Anticipating the first arrival of Jesus

We who live with a New Testament in our homes and hearts know the story of Jesus well. The Old Testament we know less well. But, for a majority of the world’s history, it was the other way around – only the Old Testament. So, for the length of this devotional, allow yourself to follow the progression of the revelation of Jesus Christ – lay aside, for a moment, all the wonderful truths of Jesus revealed in the New Testament.

In Genesis chapters 1 and 2 we read how our God created everything perfect.

In chapter 3 of Genesis, Adam and Eve, the parents of the entire human race, sinned against God. Instead of instant destruction, God shows them mercy in the most profound of ways. In Genesis 3:15 God turns to the woman, and promises that one day, a descendant of hers will destroy the power of the devil, and fix the big mess that their sin would be causing in all their other offspring.

At that moment, the anticipation of the Saviour begins. The joy of salvation is sparked into a flame; it will fade and grow throughout the OT, but will never be put out. One day, God will appoint a man to come with a divine mission. He will be a preacher of repentance, bringing salvation to sinners.

Will it be Cain? Abel? No. Will the Saviour be Seth? No, not him either.

Years and years go by.

Pagan-worshipping Abraham is not a very likely candidate, but God grants him faith, and promises that through him this blessing of the Saviour will come to all nations. But, it isn’t Isaac his miracle child, nor is it Jacob or any of Jacob’s twelve sons. Years in Egypt go by with no update on the arrival of the Saviour.
Then Moses is called – he is the Saviour of the Israelites out of Egypt, but not exactly the Saviour who kills the power of sin.

Years and years go by. No update.

Anticipation is still alive in the hearts of the faithful, but with no update on the arrival of the Saviour, there seem to be very few faithful believers left.

Then young David is anointed as King of Israel – finally, perhaps this is him. But, alas, no, for he seems to be as overcome by sin as Adam and Eve were. But, and this is where we get another great update, the Saviour would arrive as a Son of David – thankfully, another update on the arrival of the Saviour.

But, then the updates fade again.

Every once in a while a prophet is sent by God to remind the people of the coming Saviour.
Isaiah gives some very helpful updates on how to recognise him – the Saviour will have no special outward appearance, but He will be God Himself, giving himself as a substitute sacrifice in our place. Isaiah mentions a forerunner – one who will come just before the Saviour does; one who will give the final update. The prophet Malachi ends the OT with the last update in the OT. His update is striking. His update puts the fire back in the hearts of the faithful – the anticipation of the Saviour is very much alive as the OT closes.

And then, 400 y ears of nothing. Nothing at all. 400 years between the OT and the NT, and not one preacher of repentance. Not one special God-appointed man with a divine mission. All the promises, all the waiting, all the updates, but still, it all seems too far away. Will the Saviour ever arrive?

And then, the NT begins where the OT left off – with a four-fold biography (autobiography!) of Jesus Christ, the long awaited Saviour of sinners!!

Anticipating the first arrival of Jesus
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