Christmas is a powerful time of year for me. It is one of the only holidays where we engrained and celebrated our faith in culture. Now, I am not naïve; plenty of people deny the spiritual and Christian aspects of Christmas. Still, I think this might be the only time of year the dominant culture plays hymns on the radio and acknowledges the nativity story. Christian worship focused squarely on Christ’s arrival to the world. God comes willing to lay down the rights of power, privilege, and supremacy to love His creation, to be with them rejoicing and mourning with them, taking on the full scope of our human experience.
So, in writing this series, I hope to first and foremost worship Christ as our King of Kings, our Prophecy Fulfilled and our God with us. I am going to be linking Christmas hymns I’ve been meditating upon, and I hope that their familiarity becomes an avenue for deep reflection leading to deeper worship for all of us. I also hope this series will discuss Scripture in a way that has Dr. Tim Mackie and the late Dr. Michael Heiser floating in my head. These Old Testament scholars have been really helpful in expanding my knowledge about prophecy and prophetic imagery throughout Scripture.
Prophecy is what this is all about. You were probably already aware that there is a connection between Jesus and Old Testament prophecy. I hope to build on this pre-existing awareness and I hope it enhances our amazement at how God has moved in His people across time and space to develop the faith we share today. You’ll see as this series unfolds that I am using “types”. A “type” is a repetitive character trait or image that recurs throughout Scripture.
Our way of reading and writing involves a lot of descriptive noise, whereas the Hebrew Scriptures and even the Gospels are composed in a different manner. Scripture is thick on repetition of words, phrases, and images. In studying the Old Testament specifically, we compare and look for differences to derive meaning. In reading Scripture this way, we find types and themes which will be the focus of our conversations throughout this series (see embedded video to go deeper).
Christmas is the significant moment of this repetition, and we will unpack the significance of Christmas in relation to multiple themes. First, we are going to explore genealogies. Exhilarating! When we understand what we are supposed to do with genealogies, they can be quite powerful. In the case of the Gospel of Matthew (1:1-17), we are going to discuss a relationship between Christmas and his genealogy.
After that, we’re going to discuss prophecy, Jesus as a fulfillment of prophecy, but also, the nature of prophecy that helps us understand the next few weeks. The third post is going to be focused on the coming of the King of kings… as a baby. There’s something very compelling about the King of kings and Lord of lords needing the protection and nurturing of humans. Some serious first will be last and last will be first vibes.
Our fourth post will bring us a discussion about Jesus as Immanuel, God With Us. We will have learned by this point that prophecy does not have usually have a static “one and done” fulfillment. So is the case of God dwelling with His people. We are going to track some patterns in the Old Testament about how Yahweh was with His people, is with His people now, and what that means for us, the fulfillment of promises to Israel, going forward.
Our closing post will attempt to conclude on a discussion about how these things apply to us today. New Year, New Us! We are Yahweh’s people, and we will continue the patterns we see in the Old Testament: a royal priesthood of prophets, His living temples, in whom, Emmanuel continues to come into the world.
On that note, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel is the first hymn I wanted to highlight. This has been a long favourite Christmas hymn of mine. The rendition I’ve linked is new from a friend of ours in Brantford and I appreciate the slower pace that allows us to meditate on the lyrics. There is a long string of faithfulness to God’s promise that we are celebrating in Christmas. It might be possible for us to take for granted the fact that we needed a Messiah. When Jesus comes into the story, Israel is under occupation and had been under occupation for centuries, which was preceded by exile, which was preceded by idolatry and unfaithfulness. When we sing O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, we sing in connection and continuity as Israel in exile, needing a Saviour. We need our God to be with us. You have needs and you have struggles. There are viruses going around and people getting sick. There are people who are homeless and families breaking up. A girth of problems exist in our world. The busy-ness of our lives often forces our minds away from the need to pour ourselves out before Him, seek His face, and find rest. I feel the conviction as I write.
So I want to express to you that in many ways, our lives are no different than Israel at this time. We live in a developed world, so there is a veneer that things are okay, but sustaining that veneer is time- consuming and exhausting, so this may be a good time to think more deeply on whether our energies are focused on keeping up this veneer or are we serving God. In all things, we need our God to come and help us. May meditations on the coming of the King be a reflection on our need for this King to reform us and our lives.