Sunday, December 20, 2015

Season of Promise: Mary

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

(All scripture today from the 1984 edition of the New International Version)

Of all the promises of the coming deliverer, none were so personal and intimate as the promise given to a little Jewish girl living in a small town well away from the focal point of Jerusalem.  Nazareth was in Galilee...a place considered backward by the folks who were In Charge.

Scholars believe that she was in her early teens, engaged but not fully married, when Gabriel was sent to her with the announcement.

All the reading I've done...not research, mind you, just reading of period fiction and history...has given me the impression that the Jews of that day, by and large, interpreted the 'virgin shall conceive' prophecy from Isaiah to mean that the deliverer would be conceived in the usual fashion, at the consummation of a marriage.  Apparently no one considered that it might mean that the child would be conceived completely apart from human activity and born to an actual virgin.

Which, in my mind, is one of the things that makes the Biblical text so intriguing.  Fiction would not have thrown something so miraculous and completely unexpected into the plot.  A virgin conceiving was...inconceivable.

The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God - Lk 1:35

Holy one.  Set apart. Special. Not ordinary.

He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.  - Lk 1:32 -33

We see the promises in reverse order...the promise to David, the promise to Abraham through Jacob, the promise to Eve in that her seed would completely overthrow the serpent.  All in the promise to a girl who was a nobody in a backwoods corner.

I have heard the theory that Mary was not the first girl to whom Gabriel was sent...she was the first one to agree.  But I don't think God would've wasted His time or Gabriel's missions by asking any girls who did not have the willing faith and intestinal fortitude to respond as Mary did.

I am the Lord's servant.  May it be to me as you have said.

Mary had found favor with God; He was with her.  Before Gabriel came to her, that was true.  She didn't earn God's favor and presence by agreeing to His plan; He included her in His plan because she was the very person who would do precisely what was needful. AND...she fit the prophetic description:  she was descended from David through Nathan, Solomon's full-blood younger brother; and she was marrying a man who was descended from David through Solomon, who had the legal right to the throne.

And, she was living at the precise point in history when a promise given to an insignificant person in a remote area could hit the Roman world and spread.  There was common language, there was transportation, there was relative peace.

The only requirement that rested on her was that she be willing to walk God's plan out...regardless of what anyone thought about her or how anyone treated her.  She had God's promise that He was with her.  That was enough.

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