In Old Testament times before Jesus was born when someone heard a prophet speak or read from a scroll of scripture they may have found some of the information about the coming Messiah confusing. The small nuggets of information reveled about where the Messiah would come from and live probably seemed random and just a little conflicting. One prophet would say the Messiah would come from Bethlehem, then they would hear He would be a Nazarene, and then that He would come from Egypt.
As you may be aware I am journaling through the book titled The Essential Jesus: 100 Readings Through the Bible's Greatest Story written by Whitney T. Kuniholm. I am on number 34 of the 100 passages. In the last sentence of his reflection on this passage Kuniholm writes "God always knows what he is doing in our lives, even when his plan isn't so clear to us."
When he [King Herod] had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written..." (Matthew 2:4-5)
...an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him." So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son." (Matthew 2:13-15)
But when he [Joseph] heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: "He will be called a Nazarene." (Matthew 2:23-23)Through the course of many many years God reveled specific facts through various prophets about the coming Messiah. A small piece of the puzzle here and one there, through this person, then through that person. Small seemingly random pieces of God's master rescue plan. Without all the pieces in place it may have seemed quite confusing, even conflicting.
One may come away wondering "would the Messiah be Nazarene or a resident of Bethlehem or was the coming Messiah going to be an Egyptian?"
I often see various things in my life that seem random, confusing, and even conflicting and wonder how does this all fit together. I examine situations in my life or those close to me and question why. Why Lord? it doesn't make sense. Why am I like this or that? Why did this happen, or that? Why am I not like this, or that? How do these things work together, fit together? What is God's plan for me, for my family? How does all this stuff, my personality traits, my interests, life situations, failures, successes, friends, and family fit together in my life? How is all this stuff going to come together to be God's will for me?
My need to have all of the pieces of my life together and worked out so I understand completely simply gets in the way of my faith in God. My need to know just how it all fits together distorts my faith somewhat.
I have seen glimpses of the puzzle. I have looked back at things that have happened and seen a few of the pieces fitted together. I have seen why this or that took place and why I am have a certain personality trait. In hindsight I have seen God use my fears, and misguided words and actions to arrive at His will for me at a certain point in time. These glimpses encourage me. They remind me that God is at work.
Philip Yancey has such a way with words. He writes in his book "Disappointment with God" that "Faith means trusting in advance what will only make sense in reverse."
God is at work and instead of needing to know all the details of the plan, the pieces of the puzzle, I just need to trust Him today. Grab hold of what I know today, follow Christ, and trust God as he puts all the pieces together.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 ESV)
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photo credits: The top photo in this article is titled "looking back" and was uploaded to Flickr.com by motone on January 14, 2009. The next photo in this article is titled "rompecabezas" and was uploaded to Flickr.com by condormx on May 15, 2007.