Over the next couple of days, I am going to share with you the text of my newest mini-booklet, “Visitation of the Dayspring” – a look at how Jesus came into the world as the Dayspring to visit us and bring us hope.
If you want a free copy of the ebook, contact the author of this blog.
The Long Wait:
I don’t know about you, but I love Christmas. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year! But maybe it’s not as big a deal to you as it was when you were a child. I have four children ages 12-18, and they still love counting down the days until Christmas. Whether it’s opening the windows of their advent calendar and eating a piece of chocolate a day, or simply writing on the chalk-board in the kitchen, “__ days until Christmas,” the countdown is on!
When you were a child, would you go searching through the house to try to find your Christmas presents before they were wrapped and put under the tree? Did you ever find them? And did you ever take them out and actually play with them? My wife Liza always comes up with creative places to hide our children’s Christmas presents. I remember one year when we discovered one of our children’s presents in the bottom of the closet that had been opened, played with, and… broken. When we asked him about this, he didn’t know anything about how that could have happened. After a few minutes of grilling by mom and dad, he finally confessed to the crime, and admitted that he had given into the temptation and played with the toy.
This reminds me of the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment which was done in 1972 (the year I was born). This psychological experiment was designed to test a child’s ability to delay gratification. One at a time, they brought some four-year-old children into a room where they had set a marshmallow on the table. The interviewer told the child that he was going to leave the room for twenty minutes, and if they could leave the marshmallow there until he returned, then he would give them two marshmallows. They had hidden cameras videotaping the children, and it was an interesting study. Some of the children would eat the marshmallow as soon as the interviewer left the room. Other children would tap their fingers or sit on their hands or put their heads on the table to try to keep from thinking about the marshmallow. Whether we are children or adults, most of us have a hard time waiting, don’t we?
I love the Christmas season because it is the time of the year we turn our hearts towards Bethlehem, to remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ our Saviour. When you are a child, it always seems like the last few days before Christmas are the longest days of the year. But no matter how slow the days seemed to drag on, and no matter how many agonizing days it took, Christmas morning always came. The Promise of Christmas morning always arrived.
The dynamic of waiting for Christmas is what set up the first Christmas over two thousand years ago. If you’re familiar with the Old Testament, you know that God had promised that He was going to send the Messiah to save and deliver His people. For hundreds and thousands of years, generation after generation, the Jewish people waited, and waited, and waited. Not for Santa Claus, but for Jesus.
The Promise of the Messiah:
The first time that promise was made was way back in the Garden of Eden at the dawn of creation. The Lord said, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” (Genesis 3:15). This was the very first time God declared that He was going to send someone to destroy the works of the devil, and be the Saviour of the world. This One, Jesus, would come and forgive our sins and make all things new. Throughout the entire Old Testament, the prophets arose and proclaimed, “He is coming, He is coming, He is coming!”
The prophet Micah said, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.” (Micah 5:2). The prophet declared that when the Messiah came, He would be born in the town of Bethlehem. When you study the approximately 300 prophecies that were given in the Old Testament about the coming Messiah, it’s amazing how this one man Jesus fulfilled every single prophecy perfectly.
Sometimes people wonder how we know the Bible is true, and how we can trust it. If you just look at all of the predictive prophecies that were spoken about Jesus, and how He fulfilled every single one so perfectly, this is a testimony to the fact that this book was inspired by God. In fact, one third of our Bible is predictive prophecy – telling about things that would happen in the future. Many of these things have already come to pass. We know we can trust the Bible because everything it has said about the future events has come true exactly as the Bible declared it would.
There was a prophet named Isaiah who said, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14). When Jesus arrived, He came as Emmanuel, God with us, the Dayspring, who has visited us from on high.
Now some doubters would try to say that Jesus came and self-fulfilled the prophecies about Himself. But if you look at the predictions that were made about the time and place of His birth, you realize that He had no control over that. Jesus didn’t decide to be born in Bethlehem! And how could someone – apart from direct divine intervention – ever be born of a virgin? Impossible. The only logical conclusion we can come to is that Jesus was who He said He was – the Son of God, the Messiah, and the King of Israel.
All throughout the Old Testament, multitudes of prophets testified, “The Messiah is coming!” And yet, at the end of the 39 books of the Old Testament, God suddenly went silent. From the end of Malachi until Matthew, there were 400 years where God didn’t speak directly to His people. There were no dreams, visions or prophecies of any sort.