A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. And the chain of human history has certainly had its weak links.
These were times when the fate of humanity stood in grave peril, as when a strong rope from which we dangled is frayed down to just a few tenuous fibers.
Think of those times during the Cold War when the United States and the Soviet Union almost came to blows. The October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, the November 1979 NORAD computer simulator glitch, and the September 1983 Soviet false alarm each could have brought the earth to a fiery cataclysm.
And there were those times in sacred history when God’s redemptive plan came close to being derailed. Even at its beginning, the plan of God’s redemption seemed threatened. God had promised Abraham that He would bless every family of the earth through him and through his Seed (i.e. the Messiah—Gen. 12:3; 18:18; 22:18, 27; Gal. 3:16–19). Yet at the age of 99, Abraham—who was supposed to become the father of a multitude—was still without a child. But God proved Himself faithful and gave Abraham and Sarah a son, Isaac.
Another time when the sacred line of the coming Messiah seemed threatened was during the usurpation of Queen Athaliah. She attempted to wipe out the entire line of King David. Only the heroic actions of a woman named Jehosheba and her husband, the high priest Jehoiada, saved the only surviving descendant of David—the boy king, Joash (2 Kings 11).
Ahaz and Isaiah
The Scripture records another such time when God’s redemptive plan seemed in peril. We find it in the prophecies of Isaiah (Isaiah 7:1–15). Never before had the purpose and plan of God been so seriously threatened. The wicked and idolatrous Ahaz, the son of Jotham, was King of Judah. Ahaz seemed to delight in doing the very opposite of whatever God commanded him. So evil was this king that he offered his own children to the pagan Ammonite god, Molech. He filled the streets of Jerusalem with idols and bloodshed. This alone would be cause for concern to the survival of the Davidic line and the lineage of the Messiah. But a more menacing threat was yet to come.
Because Ahaz had refused to join an alliance with King Rezin of Syria and King Pekah of Israel, they decided to attack Jerusalem. Their intent, however, was not to destroy the city but to overthrow its king and set up another one, more agreeable to their alliance.
Now, initially, this might sound like good news, since any king would be an improvement over Ahaz. But Syria’s and Israel’s replacement for Ahaz, identified only as “the son of Tabeel,” represented a totally new dynasty. This would require both the removal of King Ahaz and the killing of all his offspring and relatives. Every trace of King David’s descendants would have to be destroyed.
From a redemptive perspective, this would be catastrophic. God’s covenant with David (2 Sam. 7:12–16; 1 Chr. 17:11–14) would be nullified. Even worse, the sacred line of the coming Messiah would be cut off. Both Israel and Syria were greater in power than the Kingdom of Judah and Jerusalem. So King Ahaz stood no chance against them.
Yet God sent the prophet Isaiah to King Ahaz with a message. “Do not fear the kings of Syria and Israel. They will not conquer this city and in a short time, they themselves will be obliterated. The purpose of God will not be thwarted.” Isaiah even told King Ahaz to ask the LORD for a sign as proof that God would keep His promise. Ahaz could ask for any kind of miraculous sign. It could be as high as heaven or as deep as hell. Sadly, the sinful king wasn’t the least bit interested in God’s help. He was too busy finding his own solution to the problem. He wanted to submit to the Assyrian Empire and ask them for help.
So God turned His attention to the frightened people of Jerusalem. Through Isaiah God told them, “The Lord Himself will give you a (miraculous) sign. Behold, the virgin will conceive and bear a son, and she will call His name, Immanuel”—a name which means, “God with us.” God’s great sign to Jerusalem and to all of humanity, that His redemptive plan will never fail, was nothing less than the Incarnation.
Establishing the Kingdom
No matter how much this world seemed like the devil’s turf, God was about to personally invade it. When it seemed like the whole world was under Satan’s dominion, Jesus Christ would personally overthrow it and establish His own eternal kingdom. And it would all begin with the virgin-born child who was God in the flesh (John 1:14; Col. 2:9).
Our world has seen some scary times. We’ve been tempted to fear that all is lost and that evil will triumph. But the birth of Jesus Christ is God’s proof to us that neither His redemptive plan nor His eternal Kingdom will ever fail.
Dear Father in heaven, these are scary times we live in. But remind me, O God, that You’ve faithfully brought humanity through the very worst of times. In fact, Jesus came into this world in one of its darkest hours. And beginning as a tiny infant cradled in the arms of Mary, Jesus would rise to overthrow Satan, purchase humanity’s redemption, conquer death, and ascend to heaven. From there He will return to set up His righteous kingdom, reward the righteous, and judge the living and the dead. Amen.
In article photo in order of appearance: Behold a Virgin shall Conceive by Lawrence OP licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary by Lawrence OP licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0