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"But when fullness of time came, God sent forth His son, born of a woman, born under Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under Law, that we might receive adoption of sons." (Galatians 4:4-5)
C. S. Lewis writes that among times "...there is a time that turns a corner and everything this side of it is new. Times do not go backward." (Perelandra, p. 62). At kairos point of history, when religious, political, economic and social pieces were all in place, time was ripe. Like a vessel full to brim, history was at its fullest measure. Under control of God every ordained event in preparation for this climactic advent had transpired. The prophets of Israel who had described specific, soteric kairos periods to come to Israel and world, had collectively reached an apex of fulfillment. The anticipatory strand of history had reached summit. In a backwater province in Roman empire in a rustic village, aesthetically offensive, that spoke of ignoble status of lineage of David, Eternity would intersect time. Time's conquest would be accomplished by one who laid in an ox trough. The ancient cry for God to rend Heavens and come down (Isa. 64:1) would be answered in a manner far different than Sinai. The God of Eternity would display essence of His love for world; unreserved, self-emptying, self-sacrificial.
"But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among clans of Judah, from you one will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from days of eternity. Therefore, He will give them up until time when she who is in labor has borne a child..." (Micah 5:2-3)
For 600 years House of David had been deprived of royal dominion, declining into lowliness of its origin, into obscurity of private life. Bethlehem spoke of humility and degradation without least vestige of royalty. Nothing of David's greatness would attend to present descendants of his line. A young virgin was divinely chosen descendant to bring forth scion of David, his greater son, whose coming would inaugurate day of salvation for Israel and Gentile world. As a tender sprout, He would come forth from stump of felled tree of House of David (Isa. 11:1, 53:2, II Sam. 23:5, Jer. 23:16, Zech. 6:12). The ancient village where David was born and anointed to become King of Israel would once again rise to prominence.
"And she shall bear a son; and you shall call his name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins." (Matt. 1:21). Before birth of this child he was divinely designated to be named Jesus, indicating his soteric nature and work among men. The name "Jesus" is freighted with implication of deity of its bearer. For it is Greek form of Hebrew Yehousa ("Jehovah is salvation"). Every First Century Jew understood that only God could bring rescue and forgiveness from sin (Isa. 43:11, 45:22, Ps. 67:2). Salvation was exclusively a work of God alone. In Pesikta Kahana there is a characterization of Messiah's speech, "Confidence and restfulness are in His words. His tongue gives pardon and forgiveness..." (Pes. K. 149a). The Son of God left eternity to become Gaal, i.e., Kinsman Redeemer of mankind. One who is related to those in need of redemption and thus qualified to present redemptive price for their complete salvation.
2,000 years removed from Bethlehem's advent, Christmas for millions is just an opportunity for a cultural celebration without a vestige of redemptive adoration. Yet enduring significance of incarnation confronts us still. Time's prisoner has been offered liberation by Father of Ages. A portal from earth to eternity has been opened and passageway secured by Divine Visitor of Bethlehem. His voice still reverberates, "Come unto me, all that labor and are heavy-laden and I will give you rest." The fiat nature of that voice can bring peace by a whisper. Though it appears that most are deaf to this soteric sound, a consummate day that He and prophets foretold, as certain as His first advent, is on horizon. He will speak then, not as Kinsman Redeemer from Bethlehem, but as Kurios of cosmos.
"The Word of Father, by whom all cycles of time were made, entered time itself when he was made flesh in Bethlehem. With Father Word precedes all time, but by a human mother Word chose a particular day to appear in time. The mother of men became a man. The ruler of stars was born beneath stars. The power that brings food from earth sucked at breast, and then ate bread. The One who is Way to salvation walked along dusty roads. The eternal judge of all mankind was condemned by a mortal judge. The true vine wore a crown of thorns. The foundation of earth itself was nailed to a tree. The source of all health was wounded in side. The source of all joy suffered and died. He who was pure took upon himself whole punishment of sin, that those who are saved, might go free. Through Christ, time itself is made sacred, stars, plants, trees and earth made holy-and mankind is saved."-Augustine, The Trinity
Lawrence Hilliard has been an educator and lecturer for over 30 years within private institutions, colleges, conferences, and churches. He has a Masters Degree in History from the University of Southern California and teaches philosophy, ethics, theology, and contemporary political philosophy.In an anthropocentric world, Lawrence Hilliard teaches from a theocentric perspective.