Psalm 2

The Bible Keeps Its Promises—Two Boys In the Temple

Two Boys In the Temple

I Samuel 3:1-21

Not only did Hannah’s life foreshadow Mary’s, Hannah’s son Samuel foreshadowed the life of Mary’s son Jesus. About a thousand years before Christ was born, Samuel was a young boy performing menial tasks for Israel’s High Priest Eli. The thing is, neither Samuel nor any of his superiors thought him special — until God spoke to him, that is. Then he was seen as both humble and wise beyond his years. The same was true of Jesus when he first visited the temple in Jerusalem during his twelfth year. “After three days [Jesus’ parents] found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers” (Luke 2:46-47). Christmas is often thought to be mostly for children, and Samuel and Jesus make it clear we are never too young to take seriously a life of faith and discipleship, as this older children’s hymn makes clear.

“I will early seek the Saviour, I will learn of Him each day
I will follow in His footsteps, I will walk the narrow way.
I will hasten where He bids me, I am not too young to go
In the pathway where He leadeth, Not too young His will to know.”

Parting thought: The parallels between Samuel and Jesus remind us the Bible is very much like a classical symphony. Themes are introduced; variations on those themes come and go, but finally all the themes come together in a thundering finish. The theme of the young boy in the temple, introduced in the life of Samuel and repeated in the life of Christ, is just one more proof that when God introduces a theme (promise), He will not stop until it is played in full.



The Bible Keeps Its Promises—In God All Women Are Highly Favoured

In God All Women Are Highly Favoured

…and she said to him, “Pardon me, my lord. As surely as you live, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord.

~ 1 Sam 1:26

I Samuel 1:21-28

In today’s reading let’s revisit Hannah, mother of the prophet Samuel. She was not in Christ’s bloodline, but rather a woman whose life prefigured Mary in many ways. Like Mary, Hannah’s motherhood was also miraculous (see I Sam. 1:20). Also, like Mary, Hannah composed a great hymn of praise, a Magnificat, that testified to her personal faith (compare I Sam. 2:1-10 with Luke 1:46-55). And finally, like Mary’s son Jesus, Hannah’s son Samuel was dedicated to God long before he was born (I Sam. 1:11, 24-28). There’s even the possibility that Mary and Hannah shared a name. Remember, when the angel Gabriel visited Mary he said, “Greetings, you who are highly favoured!” Some scholars have noted that this is very possibly a new name, or title given to Mary, summed up in the single Greek word charis. But here’s where it gets interesting. Behind the Greek word charis is the Aramaic name “Anna,” and behind Anna is the Hebrew Hannah. It is very possible that Gabriel, acting on God’s authority, renamed Mary to give her the same name as Hannah. Parting thought: Who knew God’s promise to Eve in Genesis 3:15 would involve so many women? The Bible is unique among the world’s ancient books in presenting men and women working side by side as complementary servants of God.


The Bible Keeps Its Promises—Many Miraculous Births

Many Miraculous Births

Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?

~ Gen 17:17

I Samuel 1:9-20

We know that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was born, meaning the Messiah’s birth was totally miraculous. But let’s use this passage to remind ourselves of the many miraculous and unusual births amongst Christ’s ancestors. We’ve already learned that Abraham and Sarah were too old to have children (Gen. 17:17), yet Isaac was born anyway. Isaac’s wife Rebekah was also barren until Isaac prayed for her (Gen. 25:21). Then there was Rahab, who lived in Jericho and miraculously escaped being killed when her city was destroyed (Josh. 6:23). She became one of David’s great grandmothers, and thus part of the bloodline of Christ (compare Ruth 4:21 with Matt. 1:5). And we must not forget Ruth, a widow from the despised tribe of Moab who also went on to become a grandmother to David and an ancestor to Christ (compare Ruth 4:22 with Matt. 1:5). Today’s reading is a little different, in that Hannah was not one of Jesus’ ancestors. Nevertheless, the fact that she was barren until God blessed her with a son is highly significant. The son she received became Israel’s first prophet (I Sam. 4:1). That should remind us of another woman, Mary’s cousin Elizabeth (Luke 1:7), who remained barren into old age before giving birth to John, Israel’s last prophet, the forerunner and announcer of the Messiah (compare Isaiah 40:3 with John 1:23). Parting Thought: If miraculous births point to God’s life-giving power, then how much more does the birth of Christ testify to the amazing promise of salvation first made to humans back in the Garden of Eden.

The Bible Keeps its Promises – O Little Town of Bethlehem

O Little Town of Bethlehem

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth are from of old,
From everlasting.”

~ Psalm 2:10-12

Micah 5:1-5

Sometimes Bible prophecies are general in nature, making it hard to pin down exact times and places. In fact, some prophecies are so obscure that they would likely go unrecognized altogether if not specifically noted by the New Testament writers (see Matt. 2:17-18). Nevertheless, a few prophecies are so precise and detailed that scholars have been tempted to think they were written after the events they were supposed to prophecy. This passage in Micah is one such. Here the prophet speaks explicitly of Bethlehem being the birthplace of the Messiah some 700 years before the event. Fortunately, the evidence for the date of Micah’s prophecy is so strong that unbelieving scholars have not been able to explain it away. Notice what else this passage does. It promotes Jesus (again) as a shepherd King. (See Micah 5:4) and Lord over this world (Micah 5:2). And once again the theme of peace toward men is emphasized. It is also worth remembering that this is King David’s hometown (I Sam. 16:1). Parting Thought: Since many Bible prophecies are extremely specific, and proven accurate, should we have any trouble believing the Bible when it identifies the fulfillment of more ambiguous prophecies?

The Bible Keeps its Promises—The Birthday of a King

The Birthday of a King

10 Now then, you kings, act wisely!
    Be warned, you rulers of the earth!
11 Serve the Lord with reverent fear,
    and rejoice with trembling.
12 Submit to God’s royal son, or he will become angry,
    and you will be destroyed in the midst of all your activities—
for his anger flares up in an instant.
    But what joy for all who take refuge in him!

~ Psalm 2:10-12

Psalm 2

It should be endlessly interesting that when the Old Testament speaks of the coming of the Messiah it has as much to say about His kingly rule as it does about His atoning death. And notice how clearly Christ’s victory over the world is presented in this psalm. God laughs at the attempts of impotent human beings to thwart his purpose (Ps. 2:4). Despite all attempts to prevent Christ from taking authority, God says, “I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill” (Ps. 2:6). And at the end of the Psalm he warns the rulers of the earth to “Kiss the Son,” i.e., make peace through submission to Him, before it is everlastingly too late. But some may ask, “What has any of this to do with Christmas?” Many commentators suggest that when God says in verse seven, “You are my Son, today I have become your Father,” he is referring to Jesus’ miraculous conception in Mary’s womb. “Made man,” writes Adam Clarke, “born of a woman by the creative energy of the Holy Ghost, that thou mightest feel and suffer for man, and be the first-born of many brethren.” Parting thought: We ought to be thankful at Christmas, that the little baby born in Bethlehem grew up as one of us, so that now He is King of Kings He is still with us, still able to sympathize and enter with us into our joys and sufferings.