Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man,and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
I thought that this Christmas story would be fitting for the final installment of the Partnering with God Series. We shared in the last post, that there seems to be a great significance to having a human body. The scriptures indicate that Jesus’ body was specifically prepared for a sacrifice and his body had the ability to bear the sins of the entire world. (Hebrews 10:5;10 1 Peter 2:24) The blood from his body is what is being used to remove the sins of the world.
In this story, God appears to need Mary’s body to birth Jesus. When we think of the creation of Adam, the first human, God took the dust from the ground and formed Adam’s body and breathed His Life into the body. Why didn’t he do that again? Why rely on a woman to carry the child to birth? In Genesis 3:15 and Isaiah 7:14, God did state that the seed of a woman would defeat the devil and a virgin would conceive and bear a son and his name would be called Immanuel, meaning ‘God with us’. However, my contention is that God needs and wants to use humans to carry out his purposes upon the earth.
In my last post, I shared an example of how Saul’s encounter with Jesus left him blind for a few days. What I thought was curious was the fact that Jesus, who healed many blind men, sent Saul to a man named Ananias to get his healing through Ananias’ prayer. Why didn’t Jesus just heal Ananias himself?
Here is another example from the story of the birth of Jesus. Joseph had a dream where an angel of God shared with him that his betrothed wife, Mary, was pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit. The angel also told Joseph that the baby would be a boy, he should name him Jesus because he would save his people from their sins. This angel knew Jesus’ destiny and purpose in life. Let’s look at three passages that I believe will show God’s desire to use men to carry out his purposes.
Acts 10:1-6 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!” And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?” So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.”
Acts 10:19-22 While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are seeking you. Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.” Then Peter went down to the men who had been sent to him from Cornelius,and said, “Yes, I am he whom you seek. For what reason have you come?” And they said, “Cornelius the centurion, a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words from you.”
Acts 10:34-36;42-43 Preaching to Cornelius’ Household
Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all— And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”
As indicated previously, an angel of God spoke to Joseph regarding Jesus’ destiny before he was born. The angel of God knew that Jesus would save his people from their sins. However, something very interesting happens when Cornelius encounters his angel from God. The angel does something very similar as Jesus did for Saul. The angel tells Cornelius to get Peter to come to his house and he would tell him what they needed to hear.
Peter tells Cornelius and his household that Jesus is the Lord of all and that whoever would believe in Jesus’ name would have remission of sins. That is exactly what the angel told Joseph. Why did the angel make Cornelius to through these extra steps? It appears that that angels already knew the Jesus came to save people from their sins. Why couldn’t the angel talk to Cornelius and his household? It seems like a waste of time to send them away to find a man to tell them. In fact, it took some convincing for Peter to go with them. Here is Peter’s shares his story of persuasion with Cornelius’ household.
Acts 10:25-28 As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I myself am also a man.” And as he talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together. Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
This is huge! Not only did God use Peter instead of an angel, God had to persuade Peter to go to Cornelius’ house because it was against the Jewish custom to keep company with Non-Jews. This was a significant paradigm shift for Peter. God had to send a vision to Peter and God relied upon Peter to consult the Holy Spirit to understand the vision.
If you recall Saul’s story, Ananias was reluctant to have Saul come to his house because Saul was capturing Jesus’ followers and throwing them into prison and encouraging their executions. (Acts 9:13-15) Thankfully, both Peter and Ananias trusted the Lord and didn’t let their fears and traditions keep them from the will of God. The point here is that there is a risk when God chooses to use humans in His plans rather than to exert his Sovereign will and do everything Himself. As you can see it it is a true partnership.
Let’s read a final scripture that speaks to God’s partnership with man to preach the Gospel.
Romans 10:8; 13-15 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach)… For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!”
God has entrusted his salvation message to humans. Obviously angels know the message and they can move through time and space much quicker than humans. It would seem like a better use of resources if God would use angels rather than humans. They don’t need any persuasion. They just obey and go. The same goes for God using his healing powers. Jesus could have healed Saul himself. However they both lack one important thing…a physical human body. Angels have a spiritual body and after his ascension Jesus has a combination physical/spiritual body.
As I have studied this concept of partnering with God, I have noticed some “patterns” or “rules” for this partnership. In the upcoming new series, we are going to delve deeper into the concept of the value of humans and how these “rules” assist in bringing about God’s purposes in the earth.
Here is a scripture to ponder until next time.
Ezekiel 22:28-31 Her prophets plastered them with untempered mortar, seeing false visions, and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ when the Lord had not spoken. The people of the land have used oppression, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy; and they wrongfully oppress the stranger. So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them;
This is a story that is commonly referenced among many who feel a calling to pray on behalf of others. It is clear that God has an intention to NOT destroy this land. He wants to save these people even though they are doing wicked acts. However, God expresses that he was looking for a human to plead on behalf of these people. Why does he need a human? If he wants to pardon, shouldn’t he be able to pardon any time he wants to? Maybe God is limited by rules he has put into place?
Isaiah 43:25-26 I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins. Put Me in remembrance; Let us contend together; State your case, that you may be acquitted.
The use of the word “contend” is noteworthy. God invites human beings to dialogue with him…to “state their case”. Obviously there is a “legal” way that God uses men in a dialogue exchange where he can spare nations and forgive sins. In Ezekiel, he could not find a man to contend with him.
In my next post I will share about the Laws of God.
NKJV is used for scripture references.