There were the kings who reigned in Edom before any Israelite king reigned (Genesis 36:31).
When Rebecca was pregnant with twins, they jostled each other in her womb. God said this was an indication of what was to come of the two nations that would arise from her sons. God also said that the older son would serve the younger son (25:23).
The nation of Edom was a fierce but unstable people. Just take a look at the succession of their kings to see the power struggles at every transition. But eventually, King Saul would war against Edom, and King David would subjugate them—making the prophecy true that the older son served the younger son.
What went into the fulfillment of this prophecy?
Esau (also known as Edom) short-sightedly sold his birthright
Jacob and Rebecca conspired to get Isaac to bless Jacob instead of Esau
Esau married Canaanite wives, which disappointed his parents and strained relations with them
God blessed both Esau and Jacob so that Esau had to move to the region that would eventually bear his name: Edom
Along the way, Esau had a son with his Canaanite wife named Eliphaz. Eliphaz had a child with a concubine named Timna—a son that grew into one of Israel’s most deadly foes: the Amalekites!
Yet all of this was foreseen by God and fulfilled His pre-ordained plan. Once again: All of History is His story. There is never any need for us to worry about turmoil—political or otherwise—because God is in sovereign control… always!
(By the way, this is not an isolated incident. There are countless examples in the Bible of how God’s sovereign plan is fulfilled, despite man’s best efforts to derail it. Check out another example here.)
700 years before Jesus was born in Bethlehem, His titles were given and then fulfilled in the way that Jesus lived (see for example Isaiah 9:6 and Hebrews 13:20)
Sometimes God has to let the darkness fall so heavy so that it seems hopeless. In fact, in human power alone it is hopeless and impossible. So God foretells His victory—
“Listen to this, you descendants of Jacob, you who are called by the name of Israel and come from the line of Judah, you who take oaths in the name of the Lord and invoke the God of Israel—but not in truth or righteousness—you who call yourselves citizens of the holy city and claim to rely on the God of Israel—the Lord Almighty is His name: I foretold the former things long ago, My mouth announced them and I made them known; then suddenly I acted, and they came to pass. … Therefore I told you these things long ago; before they happened I announced them to you so that you could not say, ‘My images brought them about; my wooden image and metal god ordained them.’” (Isaiah 48:1-5)
We have seen how Micah prophesied our Messiah coming as the Great Shepherd and as the Prince of Peace, but He also comes as our Mighty Deliverer (Micah 5:1-6). He comes at an incredibly dark time that is described like this: “He will rescue us from the Assyrians when they pour over the borders to invade our land” (Micah 5:6 NLT).
Darkness may appear to have a stranglehold even now in our time. One of the verses in the New Testament that pretty accurately sums up a Christ-less culture says, “The god of this world has blinded the unbelievers’ minds that they should not discern the truth, preventing them from seeing the illuminating light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4 AMP) .
But this is only temporary darkness. When the mob came to arrest Jesus, He said, “This is your hour—when darkness reigns” (Luke 22:53). Darkness only gets an hour, but the Light of God shines for all of eternity!
One of my favorite Advent texts is found in Hebrews 2:14-15:
Since the children have flesh and blood, [Jesus] too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
Our Mighty Deliverer came to destroy satan’s power and free those held hopelessly in darkness. The word “destroy” is a powerful, all-encompassing word. Imagine a tyrannical ruler who sent one of his strongest police officers with an arrest warrant, who then grabbed onto you and subdued you with his vice-like grip.
Only someone stronger than that officer can release you from that grip. That’s what Jesus did when He destroyed satan’s ironclad grip on your soul. Paul asks mockingly, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)
Now you may be free of the grip of that officer, but the arrest warrant still remains—you are still subject to the penalty. But that word “destroy” also means that the charges against you have been set aside so that there is no penalty outstanding against you. The apostle Paul again addressed this when he wrote, “For we know that our old self was crucified with [Jesus] so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. … Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies” (Romans 6:6, 8:33).
You are now set completely and irrevocably free! “But it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10).
The Messiah—our Mighty Deliverer—destroys darkness and delivers those who believe in Him!
No matter how hopeless it may seem, the Mighty Deliverer always prevails! Jesus has destroyed every enemy that has opposed God’s people! Jesus our Champion shines a light so brightly that nothing in satan’s arsenal can ever diminish it.
The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it (John 1:5 NLT).
So allow me to repeat: Don’t despair in the middle of the Story! All of History is His Story. No matter how dark it seems, Bethlehem is our proof that Jesus has destroyed our enemy and removed from him all grounds for charging us with sin. Bethlehem is our proof that we can live assured of God’s victorious outcome!
I just finished a series looking at the minor prophets. After Malachi, there is about 400 years of silence as far as what is recorded in the Bible for us. That doesn’t mean nothing is happening on the pages of history. In actuality, there is so much happening on the world scene.
Zechariah and Haggai are both very specific in the dating of their prophetic activity. We can also cross-reference their dates with the historical books of Ezra and Nehemiah, and with numerous other extra-biblical sources.
Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on Apple or Spotify.
John Maxwell said, “We overestimate what we can do in a day; we underestimate what we can do in a year.” In the case of parents, I think we do the same thing: we lose sight of the big picture when we get bogged down in the details and the pressures of each day. As a result, many times we are unaware of the long-lasting rewards that come from our daily obedience and God’s eternal faithfulness. This was never more true than in the fantastic love story of Ruth + Boaz.
Last week we looked at the history of Pentecost and what took place 50 days after the Passover, we saw a picture in the Old Testament that was fulfilled in the New Testament. The Jews saw this too. In the Hagiographa (Holy Writings), they picked one of the books of the Old Testament to read at each of the annual Jewish feasts, and the Book of Ruth was selected for Pentecost. I think this was because Ruth herself is in essence a “harvest” of God’s blessing. She is the firstfruits of the non-Jewish people whom God has engrafted into His holy family.
The story of Ruth’s coming into God’s family is birthed out of heartache. Elimelech and Naomi live in Bethlehem, which means “house of bread,” but it was a time of famine; Elimelech’s name means “God is King,” but Israel had no king and everyone lived for themselves; Naomi’s name means “pleasant,” but her days were bitter (see Judges 21:25; Ruth 1:1-5).
After Elimelech and his two sons die, Naomi changes her name to Mara (which means bitterness), and yet she hears “that the LORD had come to the aid of His people by providing food for them” (1:6) and she decides to return to Bethlehem. She counsels her daughters-in-law to remain with their families in Moab, but Ruth decides to cling to Naomi.
In the face of utter hopelessness, Ruth could have chosen what was familiar—her family, her homeland, her gods—but instead she chose to cling to Jehovah.
Perhaps when she heard that Jehovah had come to the aid of His people she realized, “I’ve never heard of Chemosh coming to the aid of his people. We sacrifice to him but he doesn’t do anything for us. This Jehovah cares for His people. I will put my faith in Him.”
Ruth’s first step of obedience triggers a whole series of events, starting with one that the writer of this story introduces by saying, “As it turned out, Ruth found herself working in a field belonging to Boaz.”
But this is no accident—God oversees and directs all of the details. All of history is His story. God is in charge of the tiniest of details: even down to directing Ruth to the right barley field. Ruth’s trust in Jehovah, her obedience in following Him, set things in motion that God had planned, just as Paul explained in Romans 8:28.
Moms, at the end of the story of your life, you will look back and see so many as-it-turned-out moments. But that means you are living in an as-it-turned-out moment right now.If you believe God is overseeing the details of your life, then every momentis divinely orchestrated by Jehovah, every moment is strategic, every moment is God-directed. You must remain daily obedient to God.
Don’t underestimate the legacy of God’s provision that is being established every single day that you remain obedient in following Him. Look at the amazing way God used Ruth and Boaz in the family tree of Jesus Christ (Ruth 4:16-22; Matthew 1:1-6).
Moms, your obedience today is preparing your children—and their future generations—for them to experience God’s provision in a coming famine (see Amos 8:11; Psalm 91).
Of course, Ruth can’t give birth to Obed without there being a father, which is why the story is called Ruth + Boaz. On Father’s Day we’ll look at the integrity of Boaz that made this possible too, so please make plans to join me then.
…the Lord filled them with joy by changing the attitude of the king of Assyria so that he assisted them in the work on the house of God, the God of Israel (Ezra 6:22).
King Darius didn’t just allow the Israelites to worship God at the temple, he assisted them in reestablishing worship at the temple! He did this because God changed his attitude.
Nearly 60 years later, King Artaxerxes did the same thing for Ezra: “the king had granted him everything he asked for, for the hand of the Lord his God was on him” (7:6). Artaxerxes gave Ezra and the returning Israelite exiles…
… tax exemptions (vv. 14, 20-22, 24)
Ezra says again that this was all due to God putting this in Artaxerxes’ heart: Praise be to the Lord, the God of our fathers, who has put it into the king’s heart to bring honor to the house of the Lord in Jerusalem this way (vv. 27-28).
Daniel declares that all of the world leaders are in that position of leadership because God placed them there. The apostle Paul teaches us that government officials are God’s servants and that we are to pray for them (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Timothy 2:1-2).
God can change the attitude of even the most hard-hearted, godless leader. Not just change their attitude, but give God’s people favor with that leader.
Don’t become frustrated—pray.
Don’t get discouraged—pray.
Pray, pray, pray for all of God’s servants who are in leadership over us. God has a plan. All of history is His story, and He will change attitudes so that His servants fulfill His plan.
and give us His everlasting love and everlasting kindness
His everlasting salvation gives us everlasting life, or rejecting it leads to our everlasting punishment
and in His presence is everlasting joy
Charles Wesley captures this fully-God-fully-Man essence in his song Hark! The Herald Angels Sing by calling Jesus the everlasting Lord and then listing His humanness at His First Advent with phrases like offspring of a virgin’s womb, veiled in flesh, incarnate Deity, pleased as Man with men to appear, and Immanuel.
Jesus came to earth as Man not because He was forced to, but because it fulfilled the everlasting covenant that God had planned. The writer of Hebrews explains beautifully how He became like us in all of our humanness so that He could be a merciful help to us (see Hebrews 2:10-18).
When Matthew tells the birth story of Jesus, he includes a line pregnant with meaning: “All this took place to fulfill…” (Matthew 1:22).
What “all this”? Just take a look at Christ’s genealogy in the opening verses of Matthew 1. You see Abraham who tried to “help” God fulfill the covenant by fathering a child with another woman; Jacob who swindled his birthright from Esau; Judah who fathered Perez through his widowed daughter-in-law, whom he thought was a prostitute; Rahab was a prostitute; Ruth was a non-Jewish foreigner; David committed adultery with Bathsheba and then had her husband killed, and from their relationship came Solomon; Solomon’s son split the kingdom in two; from Abijah to Jeconiah the kings became progressively more and more evil; from Jeconiah forward the kings were without a kingdom; and then Joseph was a prince without a throne or even the glimmer of a hope of a throne.
Yet ALL THIS took place to fulfill God’s plan. All of history is His story! Every deed and misdeed was used by God to fulfill His everlasting plan of redemption. Jesus had a very human family tree so that none of us could be outside His merciful reach.
What’s your genealogy like? More good than bad? What about your own history? More mess ups than positives? Nothing in your genealogy—past or present—can ever stop our everlasting Lord from fulfilling His everlasting covenant with YOU (Romans 8:28)!
Christ’s genealogy is proof that your genealogy is no hindrance to His everlasting plan!
It may appear He is late in time, but behold Him comeat just the right time. Accept Him as your everlasting Lord, lean on His everlasting arms, and bask in His everlasting joy.
Jesus—our Immanuel here—came so you could have allof God’s everlastingness!
One of my favorite stories in the Bible shows God’s role in world events, and how the obedience of His people fits into God’s plan. Yet this story doesn’t even mention God by name!
It’s an important reminder that we don’t have to say, “God’s at work here” for God to be at work here. We don’t have to say, “I’m a Christian” to live in a Christlike way.
Have you ever read the story of Queen Esther and her cousin Mordecai? Let me tell you, this is a real page-turner of a story! If you already know the story, skip to the four lessons below. Here’s a quick recap (but you really should read this for yourself)…
King Xerxes is the ruler of the most powerful nation on earth
Queen Vashti (Xerxes’ wife) defies him and is deposed
When the king is looking for a new queen, a young lady named Hadassah catches his eye
Hadassah went by her Persian name of Esther, so the king didn’t know he married a Jewess
Mordecai was Esther’s cousin, her legal guardian, and a palace worker
Mordecai uncovered a plot to assassinate Xerxes, which he shared with Queen Esther, who told the king, who investigated and had the plotters killed
King Xerxes had a prime minister named Haman, who was really full of himself
Mordecai wouldn’t bow down to Haman because Haman thought of himself as a deity
Haman wanted to show Mordecai, and all the other Jews like him, who was boss so he deceived King Xerxes into signing a law that would allow for all the Jews to be killed on a set date
Mordecai again told Queen Esther about the plot, but the queen was scared to go before the king unsummoned (where the penalty for doing so could be death)
Esther finally had the courage to approach Xerxes and invite him and Haman to dinner
At dinner, the king asked Esther why she really invited him to dinner, and Esther said, “Come back to dinner tomorrow night and I’ll tell you then”
King Xerxes couldn’t sleep that night so he asked for the royal chronicles to be read to him
The king discovered that Mordecai had never been rewarded for uncovering the assassination attempt
Xerxes asked Haman what he should do for a man he wanted to honor; Haman thought the king was talking about him, so he gave an elaborate plan of recognition, to which the king replied, “Excellent! Go do all that for Mordecai!”
Haman was so ticked off that he built a 75-foot tall gallows on which to hang Mordecai
At the second dinner, Esther asked for her life to be spared; the king wanted to know who would presume to attack her and the Jews, and she called out Haman
The king stormed from the room while Haman stayed to beg for his life
As the king returned, Haman was pawing at the queen in desperation, so the king’s bodyguards grabbed him
The king found out about the gallows built for Mordecai and gave orders for Haman to be hanged on those very same gallows
Mordecai became prime minister and wrote another law to help save the Jews from annihilation
4 BIG Lessons From Esther for Christians living in a pagan culture today
All of History is His Story. God’s timing to bring all of the key players on the scene at just the right moment is obvious. Even giving the king insomnia at just the right time was a part of God’s plan!
For some of you, it’s hard to put the word “happy” in front of Mother’s Day.
One definition of happy is “favored by fortune; lucky.” In other words, we’re happy IF things happen to be going our way. But we don’t know how things are going to turn out?
In the last Super Bowl, the New England Patriots were down by 25 points early in the 3rd quarter. It didn’t appear that things were going the Patriots’ way … except they won!
So don’t judge “happy” or “not happy” by how things are going in the middle of the story!
To God, all of History is His Story. He knows every move, every hurt, every fumble, every betrayal, every noble deed, every evil deed … nothing escapes His notice. And it all fits into His Story—We are assured and know that God being a partner in their labor ALL THINGS work together and are fitting into a plan for good… (Romans 8:28).
Check out the stories of these five women—
Tamar had to pretend to be a prostitute in order to get her father-in-law to followthrough on his commitment. As a result, she became pregnant by him and was almost burned at the stake.
Rahab didn’t pretend to be a prostitute; she was a prostitute. She lived in an important city that was about to be defeated by the Israelites. Instead of trying to make things easier on herself, she trusted God and put herself in a very dangerous position.
Ruth was a non-Israelite married to an Israelite man. But when her husband, her brother-in-law, and her father-in-law all died, she took a huge risk in staying with her mother-in-law. She could have moved in with her family in a country she knew, but she went where she was an alien, a widow, and dirt poor.
Bathsheba was married to Uriah, who was a member of the king’s inner circle. But the king took advantage of her when Uriah was away at war, impregnated her, killed her husband, and then married her. Their son from that union died shortly after being born, but Bathsheba trusted God to make something good of her tragedy.
Mary was engaged to be married when she was found to be pregnant. Society could have shunned her, her fiancé could have had her killed for her unfaithfulness, but she trusted God to keep His word.
These five mothers are the ONLY women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:1-6, 16)
God used all of these women. Despite the way they were treated or mistreated; despite their own mistakes; despite the injustices committed against them. God used all of them as irreplaceable parts of His Story.
To God, all of History is His Story! He’s doing things through your life that you can’t possibly imagine. Trust Him—if you do, your name will also be recorded in the best “His Story” ever recorded!
Whenever you don’t know what’s going on, lean into Him, cry out to Him. But then say with Mary, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” And what does God say? “I am working ALL THINGS together to tell My Story through your life!”