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The God of Things That Are Not What They Seem

The prophet Isaiah described the coming of the Messiah thusly in Isaiah 9:6-7:

“For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on His shoulders.
And He will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of His government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over His kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.”

It is no wonder that almost everyone missed it.  While they were expecting a baby, Jewish leaders thought that Messiah would be born into a family of prominence, would likely be a governmental figure, and would be some form of Jewish royalty with benefits accompanying.  Nowhere did scripture suggest the baby would be visited by foreign wisemen; their costly gifts financing His poor family’s flight to protect their baby from the murderous clutches of King Herod.  In fact, the thought of being born with a death sentence on Messiah’s head was preposterous beyond imagination.  Yet, it happened.

Jesus’ earthly ministry was filled with paradoxes.  He was well acquainted with hunger and thirst, but could turn water into wine, and produce food for a crowd of 5000+ out of five loaves of bread and two fish.  He felt the heartbreaking pain of a loved one’s death, even though He knew He would be bringing that friend back to life.  He patiently taught and answered people’s questions, but ignored questions from the “supreme court” of ancient Israel, the Sanhedrin, who were trying to orchestrate His death.  While it seemed the hope of the world was extinguished at His crucifixion, in reality, it was actually light and salvation for all who dared to believe He was the Messiah.

Much later, after Jesus had returned to the Father and John, His friend and disciple, was an old man, John was taken into Heaven to behold Jesus in forms and representations totally unfamiliar.  John describes the first scene, “and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.” (Revelation 1:13-16)  This was probably more than a little scary — not at all like the humble man John ministered with for three years.  The second encounter was probably equally confusing where one of the elders around the throne of God announced Jesus as the Lion of the tribe of Judah and the Root of David (Revelation 5:5).  But what John saw instead, was a lamb looking as if it had been slain.  Although that visual appeared to be the opposite of a lion, the lamb had seven horns and seven eyes.  Seven is God’s number of perfection, while a horn represents power and the eyes are all seeing.  So, the slain lamb was perfect in power, and perfect in wisdom and knowledge, a lion who most importantly was the perfect sacrifice for sin.

Someday, those of us who believe on Jesus as Messiah will see these things with our own eyes.  Until then, let us cling to what musician Michael Card describes in one of his songs in this way: “For the power of paradox opens our eyes, and blinds those that say they can see.” In the uncertainty of making crucial life decisions, we find direction from the One Who knows the future because He lives outside of time.  Anxiety produced by physical need is nullified by the God Who put money in the mouth of a fish and healed the Centurian’s servant without being present.  The painful heartbreak of death finds strange comfort in hope for life, even in sadness.  This Christmas, dare to trust Jesus with every need, every heart-issue, allowing Him to show you that things are truly not what they seem to be.  His redemptive plan is always at work in unimaginable ways, even in this moment… the ongoing miracle of Christmas.

1 Comment

  1. Phil on December 29, 2023 at 10:03 pm

    Grateful for this Revelation!