Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Celebrating Promises Fulfilled

The study for the prior three lessons have focused on God's covenant promises made through Abram a/k/a Abraham, the father of faith, blessings and nations. He had a special relationship with God from his initial call (Gen 12:1) and it continued throughout his life. See, for ex, Gen 13:14-18 and Gen 15. God promised Abraham that his seed would multiply as the stars of the sky and the sand on the sea shore and would possess the gates of the enemies (Gen 22:17) The descendants of Abraham had seen his seed multiply to 12 tribes and each tribe had blossomed to great numbers (as the stars of the sky and the sand on the sea shore). They had not seen a descendent who possessed the gates of their enemies. As they were persecuted by the Roman government, the birth of the Saviour was not recognized as the seed of Abraham which would possess the gates of the enemies. They expected a kingly saviour to fight the Roman government rather than Jesus Christ, our Saviour and God who fights in the spiritual realm and would possess the gates of their (spiritual) enemies. There was no parade or dinner fit for a king sponsored by the noblemen and priests. Today's lesson is focused on the sincere and humble praise that Mary, the earthly mother of Christ, gave for choosing her to bring the Lord Jesus into the world. Mary recognized that God had fulfilled his promise to possess the gates of the enemies through her Son. Luke 1:46-55

Everything that had occurred since her encounter with the angel Gabriel and Mary's acceptance of her role as mother of this baby who was conceived as none other was simply overwhelming in her thoughts. Mary had gone to visit her cousin Elisabeth for the angel Gabriel had told her that Elisabeth was with child. When she arrived and saluted Elisabeth, her baby (John) had leapt for joy in her womb as if to testify about Mary's baby (Jesus). The Scripture does not state that Elisabeth knew of Mary's pregnacy. Yet Elizabeth's unborn child, John, moved/leapt with joy in her womb at the sound of Mary's voice. The angel Gabriel had visited Zacharias, six months earlier, to advise him of the birth of John as the forerunner. He knew His Saviour was near. Elisabeth became so happy, she was filled with the Holy Spirit, called Mary the 'mother of my Lord', and prophesied the things told to her by the Lord would be performed. Luke 1:38-45

To these greetings from the babe (John the Babtist) and Elisabeth, Mary sang her song of praise. Luke 1:46-55 It is known as the Magnificat which is latin for my soul magnifies. It resembles Hannah's song in her thanksgiving, magnifying the Lord, and prophesying Israel's triumps over its enemies and eventual reign of Christ. 1 Samuel 2:1-10.

'And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.' Luke 1:46-47 The point of Mary's prayer is all about God. She was not attempting to entertain anyone. She was not quoting a refrigerated speech. She was sincerely praising the Lord. She was also thanking God for her Savior. 'For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.' Luke 1:48-49 Mary then gave the reason for her gratitude to God. She was a woman of low and humble estate. She was a poor woman and yet God had given her this honor. God had conferred upon her the blessing to be the mother of the only begotten Son. She would be called blessed by all generations, irregardless of her financial status, and she was grateful. Mary then concluded her personal thanksgiving portion of the song in typical Jewish fashion. God is mighty. He has done great things for me. Holy is His name.

'And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath showed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.' Luke 1:50-53 Mary's song became a song of prophecy. The Romans oppressed the Jewish nation and the poor were hungry. But Mary sang unto the Lord that more than ever He had provided evidence of his mercy with the coming of Christ. And His mercy would be on those who would fear Him throughout all generations. The rich expected to remain in their positions, but the Lord would show His strength and scatter them. Those of low degree and low esteem who never expected a position would be exalted in their stead. God would supply the needs of the poor and hungry and the rich would be sent away. Basically the "respectable" people at the top would be replaced by the outcasts at the bottom. God uses the lowly for divine purposes.

'He hath helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed forever.' Luke 1:54-55 Mary concluded her song of praise to God by thanking Him for fulfilling His promises to Abraham and his seed forever, and helping Israel, having mercy in times of their disobedience. The Magnificat of Mary is a powerful reminder that God saves in unexpected ways.

'And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger...' Luke 2:7 Jesus was of the earthly generation of David and Abraham. Matt 1:1 However, the invitation to salvation is open to anyone who will follow Him, whether Jew or Gentile. John 10:1-18 God had a plan and He worked it to save all humanity. Just believe in His Son.

Merry Christ mas!

Written by Deborah C. Davis

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