The Plan

The Plan

Learning about God's Plan for Salvation at South Shore Trinity Lutheran Church

Week 44 – The Savior is announced:

God’s plan has been unfolding for millennia and now it is finally coming to its culmination. As you read last week, God has been telling people about His plan of redemption since the fall into sin and now the Savior is finally here. Even so, before Jesus arrived God needed to put a few last things into place.

            The first item which sets the stage is the birth of the forerunner of the Messiah. This person is born so that He could be a flashing street sign pointing people to the Savior.

The second matter which needed attention was the finding of the Savior’s birth mother and  a step-father who were both descended from David, and, further back in time, Abraham. We will begin reading about these last preparations for the Savior and about the Savior’s arrival in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These books are called Gospels and are the first four books of the New Testament. They were all written by Apostles, or people who got their information directly from the Apostles, and each one focuses on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus from different angles and in different ways. We will spend most of our time in the gospels of Luke and John. Now, having said the rule, here is an exception to that rule: when Matthew and Mark offer information that which does not appear in Luke and John, we will look to them for help.

Please note: on some days we will start our readings with a short verse or two from the Old Testament. This is done in order to emphasize the connections between the promises which God had made in the past with the fulfillment of those promises in Christ.

            With that, let’s begin looking at what the whole Old Testament was leading up to…

Isaiah 53:1-12

Jesus’ sacrificial work was prophesied long before He came into the world

Psalm 22:1-18

David talks of his descendant who will be crucified for the world.

Isaiah 42:1-9

¨ God will make a new covenant with His people through the Messiah.

Daniel 9:24-27

The time is predicted for the Messiah to be born

Isaiah 9:1-7

The Messiah will be the Prince of Peace

Jeremiah 23:1-8

God will raise up a righteous branch; the Messiah

Week 43 – A little prophecy or two:

All of human history has been leading up to the coming of the Messiah. However, not only does the historical record lead us to the Messiah birth, so do hundreds of prophecies in God’s Word. Through the prophets God spoke to Israel and the world. The message was a constant call to repentance accompanied by information on how to identify the Messiah when he arrived. This week we are going to look back at just a few of the Old Testament prophecies that point to Christ.

Every one of these promises was made more than  400-years before the Bethlehem birth and some of them go all the way back to the fall into sin. No matter their age, all of them are laser-focused on the coming Messiah.

If you didn’t get to see the final videos of “Stuff they didn’t teach me in Sunday school” for the Old Testament, it is highly recommended that you take a look at them. They are a great resource to understanding the world into which Jesus was born.

 

- Episode 102: It's Intermission - Scenery Change!

- Episode 103: The Movers and Shakers

- Episode 104: Watching for a King Who'll Never Come

Part 3 Introduction: In the Fullness of Time

In Galatians chapter 4, Saint Paul says, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” (ESV)

            In those God-inspired words Saint Paul talks to those who might be tempted to see Jesus as just some purveyor of positive thoughts who shone for a few years in a backwater province of Rome. Saint Paul’s words explain that the truth is the exact opposite. “But when the fullness of time had come…”  tells us that everything about Jesus and His mission had been planned. He came to a very specific time, from very specific family line, and worked His entire life for one very specific task: our salvation. God worked through sinful people to bring mankind to that exact spot in history so that His sinless Son could save all humanity.

            That’s what we read about all last year. The plan of salvation began in Genesis when the human race fell into sin and God promised a Savior. That Savior was later prophesied to come from Abraham’s line. That promise seemed threatened when Abraham’s great-grandchildren ended up becoming slaves in Egypt; but even in slavery Scripture shows that God was working. He preserved His people, and His plan, through 400 years of captivity. Then when the time was right He used Moses to free the Israelites and deliver them to the promised land.

            In that Promised Land, God’s people turned their back on Him over and over again although He never turned His back on them. Even when He punished them, the main goal was always to bring them back to faith in Him. The Bible shares examples, such as the time when Israel ignored God’s final warnings and He sent them into exile. Amazingly, God still remembered His people and repeated His promise to send a Savior through them. Every single event, and person that we read about in the Old Testament shows how God moved His plan precisely to the exact place where it would accomplish His purposes. 

            With that in mind, and as we begin the New Testament, it is important for us to know that over 400 years have come and gone since we finished the book of Nehemiah back in May. God has been silent during those years while, on the world’s stage, great leaders and monstrous armies had come and in their passing, had left a changed world in their wake. Alexander the Great was the first to conquer most of the known world. The scope of his conquest made Greek culture and language the common denominator of people all over the Mediterranean. For a while a Jewish revolt led by the Maccabee family ruled the area. Their reign was cut short however when the great Roman general, Pompeii, swept through the region and brought Jerusalem and all of the Eastern Mediterranean under Roman rule.

            With God being silent and foreign nations using Israel as their super highway, it might have seemed as if God had forgotten His people, or at the very least forgotten His plan of salvation, but nothing could have been further from the truth. As we pick up the Biblical narrative, God’s word once again speaks about His Son’s entrance into this world. It is important to realize that this is the moment all of the Old Testament had been moving toward. For many reasons God chose this exact time to fulfill His plan. Among those reasons would be listed: this was a time when a majority of the known world was linked by a common language because of Alexander the Great; it was a time when the Empire of Rome had created peace throughout the Mediterranean; it was a time when Roman roads and trade routes criss-crossed the world from Spain to China and from Russia to Africa. Language, roads and routes that would soon allow the Gospel to be exported to the four-corners of the earth.

            So, as you begin reading the historical account of our Savior’s life and work, know that it did not happen in a vacuum. All of human history and especially the accounts we read about in the Old Testament, have led up to Christ’s coming. God worked throughout history to save His people through His Son, which is why we read: “when the fullness of time had come.”

Nehemiah 6:1-7:4

A plot is hatched to remove Nehemiah and the walls are finished

Nehemiah 4:1-23

¨ The people around Jerusalem plot to stop the construction

Week 35 – Nehemiah

 Just because it’s God’s Plan and He uses His people to bring it about, doesn’t mean that the whole process is going to be a walk in the park. On the contrary, as we have learned over the last few months, Satan and humanities sinfulness often try to derail God’s Plan. This week Nehemiah and the Jerusalem rebuilders find that out first hand. They want to rebuild God’s Holy city but the nations around them, and the people’s sin, continue to fight against it. The good news is that God is always faithful and will see His people through any obstacle they face. It was a good lesson for Nehemiah and it a fantastic lesson for us as well.