Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
EFCA Advent Devotional 2015
Series Title: Christmas In the Storyline of the Bible: Peace In the Midst of Tribulation
Series Theme Text: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Advent: Week Three
A Birth, Glory and Peace: Redemption Experienced (Luke 2)
The tension between the reality of the fall evidenced in sin and punishment, and the promise of redemption is a consistent theme throughout the Scriptures. It was evident in God’s curse after the fall of Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:14-19), with the promise of the offspring, the protevangelium, stated in the midst of the curses (Gen. 3:15). Isaiah informed us of this truth, and affirmed the promise of a son, whose name would be Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. This son would be the king whose reign would be forever and over all, and his kingdom would be marked by peace, justice and righteousness (Isa. 9:1-6).
Israel, and all nations, were waiting for this son who would establish a kingdom and rule on the throne of David. King after king failed. At the closing of the Old Testament canon, God again promises he will send Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord (Mal. 4:5-6; this text picked up by Luke [1:17] as a reference to John the Baptist). And then it appeared God became silent. (And even though God was silent, he was not absent or removed. His sovereign and providential plan was moving toward fulfillment.) For 400 years there was no word from the Lord. Finally, when “the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Gal. 4:4-5). The Messiah’s forerunner was John the Baptist. When he came on the scene, the silence was broken. At this time in redemptive history, not only did God speak again, this time through John the Baptist, but he also spoke finally and definitively in the Son (Heb. 1:1-2).
Let’s situate ourselves before proceeding. Jesus states that in this world we will have tribulation, but in him we have peace because he has overcome the world. In order to understand Jesus’ statement, his person and work, we need to understand the story of the Bible. That is briefly outlined above. In our study of Jesus’ statement in the context of the whole Bible, we have moved from creation, the fall, and are now in the major section referred to as redemption. As noted previously, this is promised immediately after the fall, and moves toward fulfilment in the person and work of Jesus Christ. All of the details in redemption, writes one, “draw lines toward the greatest turning point of all in salvation history: the birth, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus the Messiah.”
Today we look at the beginning of this culmination, the birth of Jesus. This is the reality of Christmas that we celebrate, and there is, indeed, much to celebrate. We will look at the birth of Jesus and a few of the events and people surrounding it.
To continue reading, please go to pages 10-12 here.