“Who’s Minding the Store?”

There’s a story told of an old merchant who was nearing the end of his days.  Family were all gathered around his bed to be with him at the last.  Finally, he struggled to raise himself on one elbow and asked, “Who’s minding the store?”

Probably not the best story ever told, but as we look at the chaos surrounding us in this world on all sides, we might be tempted to ask the question, “Who’s minding the store?”

In other words, where’s God in all this?

There are, of course, those who say there is no God – so there’s nothing to worry about there.  It seems to me, however, that if there really is no God, then there’s everything to worry about.  If there’s nothing more to this life than this life, then “eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”  Paul had something to say about this in 1 Corinthians 15:32.

Then there are those who say that God wants to be involved in things, but we won’t let Him.  Really?  Please!  As well might a grain of sand on the beach tell the ocean that it won’t let the ocean get it wet as for us to think we have to “let” God do something.  I understand our responsibility to do the things needed in order to get something done.  For example, a farmer who wants a harvest without plowing and planting will have an empty barn.  At the same time, hear the words of Mordecai to his niece Esther when she was hesitant to go before the king to plead for her people:  “For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance WILL arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish.  Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”  Esther 4:14, emphasis added.

Mordecai was confident that what regardless of what Esther might do, God would deliver His people, but perhaps she was in the King’s palace in order to be the instrument God used to do that.

Scripture says that God works all things according to the counsel of His will, Ephesians 1:11.  In other words, there’s nothing in “the store” that He’s not minding.  This means God is sovereign in the affairs of this world.

The idea of God’s sovereignty raises lots of questions and objections.  A brother recently posted that he believed that the sovereignty of God was the greatest hoax Satan ever put over on the church (!)  So sad.

Yes, there are questions and difficulties, but God is certainly able to work within the context of His own creation to bring about what He wants.

Besides, if God isn’t “in control” in every single situation, how can we be certain that He’s in control of “this” particular situation, whatever “this” may be?

“Yes, but I don’t understand….”

No, we don’t.

My wife and I have a grandson who’s about six weeks old.  He probably “understands” very little of what his Mom and Dad are doing to take care of him.  He has no knowledge of what Dad does when he goes to work.  He has NO IDEA what his mother went through at his birth.

That’s probably about what we’re like in relation to God.

In effect, Mom and Dad are saying, “Trust us,” when they take care of him.

That’s what God says:

“Trust Me.”

 

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The LORD Is My Shepherd.

Psalm 23 is one of the most beloved of all the Scriptures.  Little children are encouraged to memorize it.  It’s one of the first portions of Scripture I memorized.  Yet I fear that all this familiarity, while perhaps not “breeding contempt,” has led to a certain nonchalance about it.

The first part of the first verse of this Psalm has got to be one of the most mind-boggling verses in Scripture:  The LORD is my Shepherd.

The Lord?

is my shepherd?

I’m not questioning it; I’m expressing wonder and amazement.

Wonder and amazement at the idea that Jehovah God; that One Who flung the stars into space and Who has counted and named every single one of their billions; that One Who spoke everything into existence by the mere word of His power; that One Whose will is instantly followed by the multitude of angels; that One to Whom the ages of eternity bow in glad submission: – that One –

has taken it upon Himself to be concerned about an insignificant speck of protoplasm on an infinitesimal mote of dust off to one side of His creation,

not just as a casual Observer, but as One Who is my Shepherd.

But way beyond that, that One Who lives so far outside our experience and ability to understand that He has to initiate contact through His Spirit; that One Who is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness (Habakkuk 1:13); that One Who cannot overlook iniquity, but must punish every sin; that One sent His Son, Who came willingly, as a sacrifice to pay for those sins and bear their punishment; that One Who has accepted me in His Son, and has clothed me with His perfect righteousness, that One Who, through faith, has granted me a place forever in His presence;

THAT ONE is my shepherd!

 

[First published, in part, on May 22, 2013, as “WHO is my Shepherd?”]

Where’s God??

God is seldom involved directly in what happens in this world.  He created it with physical, natural and moral laws, which are sometimes called “second causes.”  In other words, if a farmer wants a harvest, he must plant seeds – and do the other things necessary to the seeds to grow.  God has also made it so that actions have consequences.

Man isn’t a puppet or robot.  In spite of all the discussion about “free will vs. divine sovereignty,” there are very few who disagree with the idea that we make choices, all of the time.  These choices have consequences.  Since the 60s, there has been an increasing effort by liberals and unbelievers to distance this country from the political and religious principles upon which it was founded:  “There are no absolutes,” “What’s true for you may not be true for me,” “Get rid of all those old Puritan hangups.”

The result of all this is seen in the increasing violence and immorality in our country, aided and abetted by a liberal media which flocks to scenes of horror – the latest shootings, for example – like vultures to carrion.  And I’ve noticed an increase in profanity in the little network television that I watch.  Words are being used that were seldom heard anywhere in my youth.  Kids in elementary school use words that were seldom heard anywhere in my youth.  A lot of television is little more than softcore pornography.

The High School I went to had a rifle range in the basement (ROTC) with rifles and live ammo.  And, yes, they were locked up when we weren’t using them.  I qualified as a marksman on that range.  Guns were everywhere and easily and legally available.  The local department store likely sold them.  Further, the fellows almost all carried pocket knives.  This HS was the “tough” school in the city, yet there was NEVER any trouble with guns or knives.  Liberalism hadn’t yet succeeded in destroying the moral foundations of America.

For years, we’ve told God that He’s not welcome in our schools, our government, our society, or even in many churches, which have become interested in what they call “social justice,” rather than spiritual redemption.  For the most part, God has allowed us to go our foolish, sinful way – with the sad and horrifying results we see all around us.  Yet when these things happen, the first question often is, “Where is God?”

God gave us what we want; He has left us to our choices.

 

If Jesus Is The Answer…. What is the Question?

It’s been a while since I’ve seen or heard the saying that “Jesus is the answer,” but I got to thinking about it the other day.  Though I understood what was being said, I always wondered about it.  I posted this on fb a while back and the answers indicated that Jesus is the answer to any question we could ask.  Without wishing to be difficult or disrespectful in any way either to Him or to those who answered my question, I can think of several questions to which He isn’t the answer, questions which by their very nature deny Him as the answer.

However, I’m thinking of a particular question, a question to which Jesus, and He alone, is the answer, a question asked very early in human history, a question which is basic to human existence.  It’s found in Job 9:2, “how can a man be righteous before God?” (NKJV)

“How can a man [or a woman] be righteous before God?”

If, as some believe, this life is all there is, and death is the end of everything, then this question is of no importance at all.  If though, in contrast to this view, the Bible is true, then what it says is of paramount importance.  It’s not my purpose here to defend the accuracy and/or authority of Scripture, but simply to record what it says: …it is appointed for man to die once, but after this…. 

“After this.”

What?

…the judgment.

There’s an almost universal undercurrent in the back of our minds that there has to be something “out there” to make up for or take care of all the things in this world that aren’t right.  If there isn’t, there should be.  After all, how can human justice really take care of the Stalins, the Hitlers, the kidnappers of little girls from their school, regardless of how this latter situation is resolved?  It just seems like “death” isn’t enough for such people.

Well, it turns out that “death” isn’t all there is.  There is something “out there” –

…the judgment.

It’s not the purpose of this post to deal with what this judgment might entail.  It’s purpose is to point out that all of us, even if we’re not Stalins or Hitlers, are going to be in that judgment.  Nor is it the purpose of this post to get into the discussion about the different “kinds” of judgment there may be, that is, is there just one “general judgment” in which all will participate, or are there judgments based on whether one is a Christian, a Jew at the time of Christ’s return, or an unbeliever?

It’s enough for this post that the Scripture teaches that we all, every single one of us, will stand before God and give an account of our lives.

Job asked, “How can a man be righteous before God?”

Isn’t it enough, as many think, that we just do our best?

Is “our best” good enough?

The short answer is, “no.”

There’s a strange Scripture in Proverbs which says that “even the plowing of the wicked is sin,” Proverbs 21:4 (NKJV).  Some of the newer versions translate it as “the lamp of the wicked.”   The Hebrew words are very similar, if not identical.  Nevertheless, the idea is, that even when the wicked do those things which are basic to life, they are sinning.

How can this be?

Romans 3:23 says. “All have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.”  There are a lot of good, valid definitions of sin in Scripture, showing the varied aspects of it.  Yet, perhaps Romans 3:23 aims at one of the basic thoughts of sin, it doesn’t glorify God.  This means that when a wicked person, and that is all of us apart from faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, even when a wicked person plows his field to prepare for planting or lights a lamp so he can see in the dark, he is sinning because he has no thought for the glory of God.  Indeed, his thought, even if unconsciously, is, “Why should I do that?”

There’s an Old Testament verse which bears on this.  In Daniel 5:23, after telling what Belshazzar had done with the Temple vessels captured by his grandfather Nebuchadnezzar, using them in idolatrous revelry to praise his own gods, Daniel said, “and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, YOU HAVE NOT GLORIFIED,” (emphasis added).

So, among other things, sin is a failure to glorify God.

But, how can we know what glorifies God?

There’s another verse from Paul: “There is none righteous, no, not one,” Romans 3:10.  This brings in the Moral Law, put in capsule form in the Old Testament, though there is more to it than a few verses in Exodus 20.  It is mentioned throughout the Bible.  Paul wrote that none of us is righteous, that it, has ever kept that Law.

We may think we live by the Ten Commandments or the Sermon on the Mount or some other portion of Scripture, but if we’re honest with ourselves and with God, we know better.

There’s only been one Person Who could ever truthfully say, “I do always those things which please Him, that is, God, John 8:26.  That is why John calls Him “Jesus Christ the righteous, in 1 John 2:1. No one could ever be called that in and of himself, like the Lord.

This brings us back to Job’s question, “How can a man be righteous before God?”

Paul answers in 2 Corinthians 5:21, God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. “In Him,” not in ourselves.

What does this mean?

On the Cross, there was an exchange.  The Lord Jesus exchanged places with sinners. Though sinless Himself – “righteous” – He took their sins as His own.  Doing so, He placed Himself under the wrath and judgment of God against sin.

On the other hand, those who believe on the Lord Jesus are counted as “righteous.” The righteousness of Christ, gained through His obedience to the Law and ability to say that He pleased God in all things, is credited to believers as if it were their own.  Believe me, it is not.

The Psalmist rejoiced in this grace of God when he said, “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities, Psalm 103:10.  He dealt with the Lord Jesus according to them.

People sometimes say that they want what they deserve.  That may be true in this world, but it’s not a good thought for the next.  One of the Puritans used to say that anything outside of hell is more than we deserve.

The question:  “How can a man [or a woman] be righteous before God?”

What is YOUR answer?

What DID Jesus Do on the Cross?

Last Sunday was Palm Sunday.  This is Holy Week.  In four days, it will be Easter.  Perhaps even moreso than at Christmas, this is a time of fervent religious activity.  There was an article in the paper about Palm Sunday, and one of the reenactments of Christ’s journey carrying the Cross to Calvary.

The article quoted one of the participants as saying that this reenactment strengthens us as we consider how Christ suffered.  The daughter of a man who was “crucified” as Jesus asked what her daddy was doing on the Cross.  Her mother answered that he was showing how much Jesus loved us in dying for us.

Not for a moment am I questioning the fervor or desire of those people, or any of the others around the world who participated in Palm Sunday services, or who will participate this coming Sunday.  The thing is…

What DID Jesus do on the Cross?

I asked a fellow this question some time ago.  “He died” was the answer.  Beyond that, he couldn’t really tell me anything about the death of Christ.  The thing is, two other men, say, Jacob and Eleazar, died that same day.  Why don’t we talk about their deaths.  Why is Jesus’ death “special”?

“Well, He died for our sins.”

True.

What does THAT mean?

I’m not trying to be difficult or anything.  It’s just that Jesus’ death, and resurrection, is the foundation of our faith and the basis for our eternal hope.  It’s important that we understand something of what was involved.  I don’t think we can ever completely understand it – especially if we consider that Jesus was God incarnate.  If that isn’t true, if He’s just another man, as many who will participate this week believe, then His death was no different than the deaths of Jacob and Eleazar.  We are lost, and there is no hope for eternity.

In 2 Corinthians 5:21, Paul wrote, For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him [NKJV].  There’s enough here for a lifetime of study.  The few words of this post won’t even touch the hem of the garment of what’s in it.

The death of Christ was a substitution.  Our sin was put to His account and His righteousness is put to ours.  He had no sin.  We have no righteousness – in spite of all our “religion” and fervor.

Jesus took the place of sinners.  Their – our – sins were considered to be His.  He suffered the penalty – death – for sin.  But He suffered more than just a physical death. As a man, He suffered a momentary separation of God from Himself.  This is the reason for that awful cry, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

I’m NOT saying that Jesus was lost, or that He suffered in Hell, or any such thing.  What He endured is quite beyond our understanding.  But for a brief moment, that eternal fellowship the Son had enjoyed with the Father was severed and Jesus felt all the despair and hopelessness of separation from the Father.  He endured the wrath of God against sin.  Words don’t even begin to convey what that must have been like.

If you want to know what God thinks of sin, look at the Cross.

What did Jesus do on the Cross?  He drained the cup of God’s wrath against sin.  He took the punishment due sin and paid every last penny of it’s penalty.  There’s nothing left to suffer in that way for those for whom He died.  The debt is all gone.

Hebrews 1:3 says, When He had by Himself purged our sins, [He] sat down at the right hand of the Father. “He sat down .”  In the old Tabernacle, or in the Temple, there were no seats for the priest to sit on.  Their work was never done.  The sacrifices they offered could never take away sins, could never bridge that infinite gulf between our sins and the righteousness and holiness of God. Hebrews says further, Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption, Hebrews 9:12.

Sin has been purged, redemption has been obtained.

Not just “made possible.”

Purged.  Obtained.

What does all that mean?

Simply put, unless you agree with the Bible teacher who said that the plan of salvation was a colossal failure, it means that there will not be a single person in Hell for whom Christ died.

Nor in heaven for whom He did not.

When Jesus cried out, “It has been finished,” just before He died, it wasn’t a sigh of relief that things were finally over.  It was the exultation of triumph.  Redemption was complete!  He had done what He was born to do!

The wonder of salvation isn’t that Jesus died for everybody, but that He died for anybody at all!

There’s a lot of discussion about all this.  In the final analysis, though, it all boils down to one thing.

What is your hope of heaven?

In that rather fanciful, and completely unScriptural, picture of St. Peter at the pearly gates asking people why they should be admitted to heaven, why should you, or I, be admitted?

???

My answer, and I don’t mean this at all in the way it might sound, is, “Talk to my Attorney.”

1 John 1:9 says there is an Advocate, Jesus Christ the righteous.  

I don’t look to my “faith.”  It’s feeble and fluctuating.  Jesus isn’t.

Jesus is the Righteous One.  Not me.

What Jesus did on those dusty roads in Israel – His perfect life, and what He did on that Cross – His payment for sin, these are my hope of heaven.  They alone.

That, and His promise, “…the one who comes to me I will by no means cast out,” John 37b.

 

The Thief on the Cross: A Different Way of Salvation?

On November 23, I published a post about the thief on the cross.  Some time later, I got a lengthy response.  Wordpress put it into spam.  It wasn’t, but neither was it something I could “approve”.  I have no difficulty with people disagreeing with something I believe, provided they show that the Scripture says I’m wrong. I just want what the Scripture itself says, not what folks say it says.  Such was the case for this response.  The gentleman who wrote it clearly believes there has been more than one way of salvation.  His comment was titled:  “Can Men, Today, Be Saved Like Enoch?”  His comments are largely a non-sequitur, because they fail to follow what the Bible actually says about the subject.

His comment starts off, “Did you ever notice that the hydrophobic believers in Jesus want to be saved like the thief on the cross?”  I suppose the word “hydrophobic” (fear of water) has to do with the fact that this gentleman believes that baptism is necessary for salvation.  His whole response is based on that supposition.  At the same time, he refers to them as “believers in Jesus.”  So, are these “hydrophobic” “believers in Jesus” saved or not?  He doesn’t say.

He continues, “Their argument is that the thief was not baptized in water, and was still saved.”  I agree.  However, he says, “Thief proponents fail to mention that the thief was also saved without being born of the Spirit.”  I disagree.  Because the Bible doesn’t specifically mention it in this case, doesn’t mean that He wasn’t active in the heart and mind of this thief to enable him see that Jesus wasn’t just another criminal being executed.

According to this gentleman, “the Holy Spirit of promise had not been given at that time,” so, apparently, He was nowhere to be found until Pentecost.   However, the Old Testament is filled with references to the activity of the Holy Spirit.  Pentecost may have inaugurated a new day in God’s dealing with men, with Gentiles being granted salvation apart from becoming Jews, but it did not begin the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Then he brings in the case of Enoch, asking why men today don’t petition to be saved like Enoch.  He quotes Genesis 5:24, Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.

Then having admitted that Enoch was saved, the writer asks a series of questions about things that Enoch did not “believe”.  He didn’t believe that Jesus was the Son of God, nor that God raised Him from the dead.  He wasn’t immersed in water for the forgiveness of sins.  He didn’t believe that Jesus shed His blood on the cross so that his sins could be washed away.  He was not born of the Spirit, again, because the Spirit hadn’t been given.

Except for the last item, all these things are irrelevant to the case of Enoch.  Hebrews 11:5 has a comment about Enoch:  By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, ‘and was not found, because God had taken him’; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God.  How was Enoch saved?  BY FAITH, just like anyone else has ever been saved, beginning with Abel.  (The Scripture nowhere reveals for certain whether Adam was ever saved.)

So then, what is “faith”?  According to Hebrews 11, it’s an obedient response to the Word of God, the Word, we might mention, which has been given, as in the case of Enoch, not which will be given, as in the case of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Enoch was saved through faith in the revealed Word of God, just like you and I are.

Then this gentleman turns to the thief on the cross.  Again, he lists some things about this man.  The thief believed that Jesus was the Christ [true].  He repented, but he did not confess that God raised Jesus from the dead [irrelevant.  Christ hadn’t risen from the dead yet, so the resurrection wasn’t a subject for faith], he wasn’t immersed in water for the forgiveness of his sins [also irrelevant], and he wasn’t born of the Spirit [inaccurate].

Then he asks, “can men, today, be saved like the thief on the cross?  ABSOLUTELY NOT” (his emphasis).  So, according to this writer, there have been least two different ways of salvation.

According to this writer, “men, today, can only be saved by meeting the terms of pardon under the New Covenant,” which, according to him, “started on the Day of Pentecost.”

It might be interesting to see what the Old Testament, written long before Pentecost, has to say about the New Covenant:

Jeremiah 31:31-34 says, “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AND WITH THE HOUSE OF JUDAH [my emphasis] – not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD.  But this is the covenant that I will make WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL [my emphasis] after those days, says the LORD:  I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.  No more shall every man teach his neighbor,  and every man his brother, saying ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD.  For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” 

The whole section from Jeremiah 30-33 is the context in which the portion above should be read.

Ezekiel 11:19-20; 16:60-63; 37:15-28, and 39:21-29 are just some of the other OT Scriptures which refer to this promise of God to the nation of Israel.

Did all of this happen at Pentecost?  Did any of it?

It’s commonly taught that verses like these were all fulfilled when Israel returned from the Babylonian Captivity.  Again, where is the Scriptural evidence?  It certainly isn’t in Nehemiah, Ezra, Haggai or Malachi, books written about, during or after the Return.

There’s not a verse in the Old Testament about the New Covenant which includes baptism as one of it’s “terms of pardon.”

In a final “note,” the author refers to conversions listed in the Book of Acts.  Turning his argument around, he maintains that no one who was saved said that they did not believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that they did not have to be born of water and the Spirit, did not have to believe in the Resurrection, did not have to be immersed in water in order to be saved, and did not have to repent in order to be saved.

Except for the two references to “water”, which we’ll look at in a moment, all the others are irrelevant.  Jesus had come, unlike the time of Enoch and even in some ways unlike the thief on the cross – as we’ve noted – and so there were things about Him, like His deity and His resurrection, which now are the subjects of faith.  One cannot deny them and be saved.

So, what about “water?”

The writer refers a couple of times to John 3:5, where Jesus said to Nicodemus, “…unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”   There are a variety of viewpoints about what our Lord meant by “water.”  Our friend, of course, says that it has to be immersion in water in order to be saved.  Others say that it refers to physical birth, and still others look to Ephesians 5:26, where Paul refers to the washing of water by the word.”  However, Nicodemus probably never read Ephesians, and the idea of it simply being physical birth seems seems somewhat strange.  All Nicodemus had to go by was the Old Testament, where baptism is never mentioned.

Though listing salvation experiences in the Book of Acts, there is one instance to which our friend never refers.  It’s found in Acts 10:  the conversion of Cornelius, his household and close friends, v. 24.  We’ll start reading in v. 43, which tells us something of what Peter told those in the house:  “to Him [Jesus] all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”  While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.  And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.  For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.  Then Peter answered and said, “Can anyone forbid water, THAT THESE SHOULD NOT BE BAPTIZED WHO HAVE RECEIVED THE HOLY SPIRIT JUST AS WE HAVE?”  (emphasis added).

“Whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”  If Peter had agreed with our friend, wouldn’t he have said, “Whoever believes in Him and is baptized will receive remission of sins”?

Cornelius and his family and friends were saved without baptism, as witnessed by their receiving the Holy Spirit, which, in turn, was evidenced by their speaking with tongues and glorifying God.

News of this reached Jerusalem and created quite a stir.  The early church, being mainly Jewish, had a great deal of difficulty accepting the idea that Gentiles could be saved without coming through Judaism and perhaps none of them more than Peter. This is why he received the special vision recorded in the first part of Acts 10.

Acts 11 records the argument that arose over what Peter had done.  He gives a complete account of what happened before and when he arrived at Cornelius’ house.  In v. 15-17, he said, “And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning.  Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’  If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?”

Notice in both these accounts that Peter never asked for a “decision.”  He never told his audience to “pray to receive the Holy Spirit.”  He just simply told them about the Lord Jesus Christ and God did all the rest.  These may or may not have their place elsewhere, but they had no place here.

Unless one believes that lost people can receive the Holy Spirit, and regardless of the two or three other verses proponents of baptismal salvation bring forth, Acts 10 forever refutes the idea that baptism is necessary for salvation. 

The Voices of Christmas: “Hail, Mary….”

These words are…?

1.  The beginning of words used millions of times a day.

2.  A long, desperation pass to the end zone in the last seconds of a football game, a pass thrown with the hope of snatching victory out of the jaws of defeat.

3.  An approximation of the beginning of an angelic greeting to a young Jewish maiden who would otherwise be totally unknown.

4.  All of the above.

All four are true, although only one is Scriptural.  I have no idea where #2 came from, although if it works, it’s very exciting.  I’m sure there’s an explanation if I wanted to look it up.  However, the Virgin Birth was not a “desperation” move by God to try to salvage something out of the mess Adam made of the human race.  It was the continuation of a carefully thought-out plan for the redemption of mankind, the defeat of Satan, the vindication of the Divine purpose and the revelation of the glory and grace of God.  All this rested on the shoulders of a young Jewish girl who had no idea of it at all.  This does not mean it was dependent on her in the sense that she could have messed it up if she hadn’t been “willing.”  It just means that she was the only girl out of the hundreds or thousands in Judah who could have been the mother of the Messiah.

How is she the only one?  There are several reasons.

First, the fallen human nature is passed from father to child.  This is seen in the very first generation of children.  In Genesis 1:26, 27, we read that Adam was created in the “image of God.”  This doesn’t mean that he was a little “god” or that he looked like God.  Genesis 5:1 repeats this:  In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God.  However, v. 3 says, And Adam…begot a son in his own likeness, after his image….”  Whatever “the image of God” was, Adam lost it and became the father of children who were like him:  fallen sinners.  The chain of fallenness continues to this day. I got it from my father, who got it from his father, and I passed it down to my kids, and they to their kids, etc., etc.  So, the Messiah could have no human father, though He could have and did have a human mother.  This is how He was fully human, through her, but not a fallen human, like a human father would have been.

Some try to get around the problem of sin by saying that Mary herself was sinless, which she herself denies.  Besides, this just passes the problem back one generation and would have required her to be virgin-born as well.

A second reason is found in her lineage as compared with Joseph’s.  She and Joseph were both descendants of King David, but through different sons:  Matthew 1:6, Luke 3:31.  This is significant.  Because of Jeconiah, otherwise known as Coniah or Jehoiachin, David’s line through Solomon became cursed, Jeremiah 22:24-30.  Jesus could never ascend to the throne of David if He were actually Joseph’s son.  He will ascend to the throne through Mary.  For a complete treatment of this, see my post on Zelophehad.

A third reason is that it was time, Galatians 4:4.  If we could put it like this, Mary was the right girl at the right time.  There probably weren’t very many young Jewish maidens alive at the time who had the lineage and right of inheritance that Mary had.  Even if there were, she was the one highly favored.  She was the one through whom the incarnate God would come into this world.

She was the one to whom the angel would say, “Hail, thou who art highly favored….”