At Christmas we celebrate the Birth of the Saviour of the world - an event so important it was a subject of many prophecies.
The first was in Genesis which spoke of a spiritual conflict between light and darkness that would finally be resolved by THE SEED OF THE WOMAN.
(1) '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 (on the cross).' (Genesis 3:15)
Fulfilled - Galatians 4:4: 'When the fullness of time had come God sent forth His Son, born of a WOMAN'
(2) THE ETERNAL ONE WILL BE BORN IN BETHLEHEM '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)
Fulfilled - Matthew 2:1; 2:4-8; John 7:42; Luke 2:4-7). The Bethlehem Babe existed before his birth-The wonder of Christmas is that the everalsting God became a man in the Person of Jesus Christ. If we go on the BETHLEHEM BYPASS this Christmas we are are bypassing God. For it is through JESUS we come to know God. We must come to Bethlehem and the One who is God manifested in human flesh.
(3) VIRGIN BIRTH OF IMMANUEL = 'GOD WITH US' 'The Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold a VIRGIN shall conceive and bear a Son and shall call his name IMMANUEL' (Isaiah 7:14).
Fulfilled - Matthew 1:18,23-25; Luke 1:26-35; Colossians 1:17). He was born of a virgin for God was His Father and He is Immanuel = God with us. God has come to live among us and reveal Himself to us. (John 1:1,14).
(4) This HUMAN CHILD is also GOD! "For unto us a child is born, unto us a SON is given and the government will be upon his shoulder and His Name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, MIGHTY GOD, Everlasting Father (Source of Eternal Life) Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6). (Fulfilled - John 1:1,14; 3:16).
He was fully human (the child born for us) and fully God (the Son given to us). He was WONDERFUL (Miracle-Worker) COUNSELLOR (Teacher, Guide) MIGHTY GOD (All-powerful to save) SOURCE of ETERNITY ('He who believes in Me has eternal life.' - John 6:37) PRINCE OF PEACE (he came to rule over us and in so doing bring us SHALOM = wholeness, harmony, completeness, peace with God.
(5) PRESENTED WITH GIFTS FROM KINGS from the East. "Let the kings of Rashish and of the islands bring presents. The kings of Sheba and Seba offer gifts. Yes, all Kings shall fall down before Him.' (Psalm 72:10,11).
Fulfilled - Matthew 2:1,11. He came as King of Kings and received Gold (King), Frankincense (Priest) and Myrrh (Sacrifice)
(6) THE MASSACRE OF THE INNOCENTS at Bethlehem. "Thus says the Lord, a voice is heard in Ramah (near Bethlehem), Lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel (who was buried in Bethlehem) weeping for her children (this also refers to the weeping of her descendants, who were 'in Rachel') refusing to be comforted for her children, because they are no more." (Jeremiah 31:15)
Fulfilled by Herod- Matthew 2:16.
(7) He comes to be an OBEDIENT SERVANT even unto a SACRIFICIAL DEATH.
Isaiah called him 'The Servant of the Lord' who would suffer for our sins (Isaiah53)
Fulfilled by Jesus: 'The Son of Man did not come to be served,but to serve and to give His life for a ransom for many.' (Matthew 20:28)
Psalm 40 is a Messianic Psalm and the Messiah is speaking:
'Sacrifice and offering You (God) did not desire (God had no pleasure or satisfaction in them).
But my ears You have opened.
(or - 'But a body You have prepared for me'- Septaguint)
Burnt offering and sin offering you did not require.
Then I said, 'Behold, I come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me.
I delight to do Your WILL, O my God. Your law is within my heart" (Psalm 40:6-8)
Fulfilled - Hebrews 10:5-10 which says these were the words of Christ as he was coming into the world. The Old Testament animal sacrifices were offered to cover sin. Knowing that DEATH was the just penalty for sinning against God, they offered the innocent unblemished animal as a SUBSTITUTE-so that it took his place and suffered the punishment of death instead of the man. However the value of an animal's life-blood could not pay the price and so these sacrifices could not satisfy God or save us. God used them as a TEACHING AID to prepare us for the ultimate sacrifice for sin-of Jesus, the innocent sinless Son of God-who alone satisfied and pleased God. God's will for him was to become a man, live a perfect life and die as a sacrifice to pay the penalty for our sins. He was dedicating himself to serve and die as a sacrifice for our sins accomplishing what animal sacrifices could never accomplish -our forgiveness and salvation.
Here the Christ is in heaven about to come into the world as a man. He says twice that the animal sacrifices can't save. Then He says He is coming into the world as a SERVANT to do God's will from the heart and lay down his life as the final sacrifice. After saying animal sacrifices can't suffice (because they can't offer up a perfectly obedient life-only their innocence and being outwardly unblemished) he says 'BUT' (in contrast to this) 'MY EARS You have opened' (Christ will offer up a perfectly obedient life and his obedience will be our salvation and righteousness)
In describing himself as God's Servant he uses an interesting phrase.
'But my ears You have opened (dug, pierced).'
What have pierced ears got to do with Christmas ?
This refers to a Hebrew custom. A Hebrew servant at the time of his freedom, who wanted to remain a servant from love of his master, could do so. His ear was bored (pierced) against a door or post with an awl.(a pointed metallic instrument, not the noise he makes when pierced!) 'If the servant plainly says: 'I love my master, my wife and my children. I will not go out free. Then his Master shall bring him to the judges, He shall also bring him to the door, or to the door-post and his Master shall pierce his ear with an awl,and he shall serve him forever.' (Exodus 21:5,6; Deuteronomy15:16,17).
By this his Master was accepting His dedication to be a LOVE-SLAVE. He was PREPARING HIS EAR TO HEAR. The picture is of him digging a hole in the ear or OPENING up the ear permanently so that it was always open to hear the voice and commands of the Master. It was not clogged up with his own agendas and ideas. It was opened up to the Master. If we dedicate ourselves to do God's will, to be his love-servant- He will also open our ears to hear. The key to our growth and blessing is having an opened hearing ear. 'Let him that has EARS to HEAR (hearing ears) HEAR and keep on HEARING (God's Word)'- (Mark 4)
Thus an opened pierced ear, represented one who had voluntarily dedicated to serve his master forever, out of love. It was the mark in the flesh, of a true love-servant ready to do anything for his master. It is an ear always open to hear and obey the Master's commands. The ear represented his whole body. Presenting his ear to be pierced he was presenting himself (his body) to serve and obey his Master forever. Being pierced signified he was willing to endure pain and sacrifice, to even be pierced for His Master's Will. In presenting his ear to be nailed to a door post (an altar) he was presenting his body as a living sacrifice.
Thus, this is the Old Testament backround to Romans 12:1-3 which says: 'we are to offer our bodies a living sacrifice to God as our reasonable response of worship to God.'(v1) This is the dedication of ourselves to serve and obey God even unto death. The result is transformation by the renewing of our mind as our ears are opened to hear God's word (v2). This enables us to demonstrate the perfect will of God in our life and service (v3).
This is a picture of Jesus. As God He had the right to be FREE but out of love for His Father, and his children (us) and his wife (the bride of Christ) he gave up his rights as God and took on the role of a Servant, submitted and dedicated to the Father to do His Father's will in ministering to us and saving us (Matthew 20:28, Philippians2:6) This Will included dying for us and he accepted this. Thus He is 'the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.' (Revelation 13:8). Before He even came into the world he accepted the suffering of being a servant-He dedicated Himself to obey. He presented himself to the Father as a living sacrifice, a willing obedient Servant, ready to suffer and die for us.
If the master accepts the servant's DEDICATION then He CONSECRATES him for service. This means he sets him apart for his work, he anoints and equips him with whatever he needs to accomplish it. Thus the servant is PREPARED and enters officially into his mission or task. We dedicate but only God can consecrate!
Now the master accepted the servant's dedication by opening his ear.
The pierced ear is an ear prepared to hear and do the will of the Master.
It represents and is a figure for the whole body prepared to obey the Lord's will- (this explains the Septaguint translation, quoted in Hebrews 10 where it is applied to Jesus, which replaces the 'ear-piercing' with:'a body You have prepared for me.') The meaning is the same.
So as the Son came into the earth in the incarnation, he dedicated to do God's will as God's Servant, in the body God would give him. Thus God's response to the Son's dedication was to prepare a perfect body for him to do God's will and for him to offer it up as a sacrifice. God gave him opened ears to hear and a body prepared to do God's will, even to be offered up as a sacrifice. God gave him a perfect human nature that could hear God's voice (as Adam in the beginning), that was suited and prepared for serving God perfectly in the earth and to be offered up as a perfect atoning sacrifice. (See also Isaiah 50:4-6) When we dedicate to do God's Will he anoints and equips us to serve Him. He gives us ears that hear His will and equips us with what we need to do it (instruments, gifts, and training) When this is done we are set apart into that ministry (service).
God did this for Jesus at the INCARNATION by preparing him a perfect body and ears open to hear God. Then in saying: 'I delight to do thy will, O God.' Jesus was dedicating his body to do God's will, prepared even to offer it up as a willing sacrifice.
The consecration is done at the DOOR. This is because it represents the entrance into a new dimension of life and service. The incarnation and virgin-birth was the DOOR that God opened for JESUS to come into the earth and fulfil his work as God's servant. (John10:1-3) When God consecrates us, He opens doors of opportunities for us to serve Him. That is - He SENDS US. (Matthew 9:38)
The pierced ear was the mark of a consecrated servant. Being pierced signified he was willing to endure pain and sacrifice, to even be pierced for His Master's Will. Jesus proved his total love and obedience to the Father by being pierced through against a wooden post (the Cross) - which is the door to eternal life! (Psalm 22:16, Luke 23:33, John 19:34, Zechariah 12:10).
The piercing of Jesus on the cross is the ultimate mark in the flesh, that he is God's Love-Servant dedicated to obey even unto death. As a love-servant was marked by a pierced ear- so Jesus is marked by his pierced body, that in full loving obedience to God he laid his life down for us as a sacrifice for our sins. As a sharp nail would pierce a servants ear so sharp nails pierced Jesus' hands and feet. The cross thus signified Jesus was not doing his own will, but was acting as a Servant of God obeying His will to the end-fufilling His plan of saving man. Jesus on the cross is God's Love-Servant obedient unto death out of love for his Master and love for his family (us)- whose future in the house of the Master he was securing by being pierced. He still bears in his body the marks of the cross- that he was pierced for us. He was held against a wooden post and pierced through. But he did it voluntarily for us. He could have claimed his freedom and rights and opted out. But out of love for God and us he submitted himself to total obedience and the painful piercing of his flesh on the cross. (The Apostle Paul was proud of the marks or piercings he had received as a servant of God- 2Corinthians 11)
That this prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus is confirmed in Hebrews 10:4-10
which says these were his words as he came into the world in the incarnation.
'It's not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. Therefore when He came into the world, He said:
'Sacrifice and offering You did not desire.
But a body You have prepared for me.
Burnt offering and sin offering you did not require.
Then I said, 'Behold, I come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me.
I delight to do Your Will (which is ultimately to offer himself up as a sacrifice), O my God.'
'Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them'
(which are offered according to the law)
then He said,
'Behold I have come to do Your WILL O God.'
He takes away the first (sacrificial system)
that He may establish the second (sacrificial system).
By that WILL (God's will=the work of Redemption) we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.'
JESUS IS OUR EXAMPLE OF TRUE SERVANTHOOD.
'Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus' (Philippians 2:5)
His humiliation as a servant was in 7 steps DOWN (Phil 2:6,7) :
'(1) Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but
(2) Made himself nothing (of no reputation, He Emptied himself of His Divine rights and privileges.)
(3) Taking the very nature of a Servant (He did this in eternity-before the incarnation)
(4) Being made in human likeness (the incarnation-he took upon himself a human nature)
(5) and being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself (in a life and ministry of service)
(6) and became obedient to death (the ultimate test of dedication)
(7) Even death on a Cross.' (the lowest most accused and humiliating way to die)
The reward for serving God is great: His exaltation (reward) as a servant was in 7 steps UP (v8)
'(1) Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and
(2) Gave him the Name above every name,
(3) That at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow,
(4) In Heaven and
(5) On Earth and
(6) Under the earth, and
(7) Every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.'
Let us have the mind of Christ and humble ourselves before God to be His Love-Servant, seeking only His Will, asking Him to open our ears to hear His voice that we may do His commands and that He would prepare, train, anoint and equip us to serve Him effectively in the short time remaining. He will open doors of opportunity for us and send us through them. This is how we enter into our ministry of service-we must present our bodies a living sacrifice to God to do His will and He will show us what we are to do and empower us to do it. My challenge from the Lord for this New Year is that each one of us find our place of ministry and be found serving the Lord with all our heart. Everyone has a ministry. He will reward our faithful service, born out of our love for Him.