THE PATTERN OF DIVINE INTERVENTION-Chapter 5
Chapter Five: The Global Intervention
by David Schnittger
The Bible presents Yahweh God as both transcendent and immanent. By transcendent, we mean that He stands beyond and is unaffected in His essential being by the circumstances of earth and the universe. By immanent, we mean that He is, at the same time, concerned and intimately involved in the affairs of this universe, and, in particular, with mankind. As such, God has chosen to be responsive to man’s actions, whether judging and punishing sin and unbelief, or granting merciful intervention in response to man’s repentance and faith. It is the latter subject that we will explore in this series of articles. We have already looked at the Exodus intervention under Moses as well as the Babylonian Captivity intervention under King Cyrus. We have also dealt with the Nineveh intervention under the prophet Jonah.
In this article, we are going to examine the Divine intervention that took on a global scale at the First Advent of Jesus Christ. This intervention had been predicted throughout the Old Testament beginning at the protoevangelium of Genesis 3:15: “And I (God) will put enmity between thee (Satan) and the woman (Mary), and between thy seed and her seed (Jesus); it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Thus begins the conflict of the ages. Despite all the devil’s wiles in trying to prevent the “seed of the woman” from His rescue mission to planet earth, we are told that, “. . . when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Gal 4:4, 5). In the providence of God, the Lord Jesus came to earth at just the right time, to accomplish God’s global intervention. What was the condition of mankind at the time of Christ’s coming?
The book of Isaiah gives us a graphic description of the world’s condition when Christ came; We read in Isaiah 9:2: ”The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.“ This is echoed in Isaiah 42:6, 7: “I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.”
This analogy of light and darkness is carried forward in the New Testament as the Apostle John declares the coming of Christ in John 1:5: “And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” There were some, though, that DID comprehend the light and anticipated His coming.
There were two in particular at the birth of Christ that anticipated His coming. We read of Simeon in Luke 2:25-32:
And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him the by Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law. Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
Another whom God had prepared for the coming of Christ was Anna. We read of her anticipation in Luke 2:36-38:
And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, or the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fasting and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
Simeon and Anna, by no means, constituted the majority of the Jews in their response to the coming of Christ. For the most part, the Jews of Jesus’ day rejected Christ as their Messiah. They could not conceive that one so unlikely, a mere carpenter’s son, could be their promised deliverer. This is demonstrated most clearly at His crucifixion. We read in John 19:14-16:
And it was the preparation of the Passover, and about the sixth hour: and he (Pilate) saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away.
The Apostle John expressed so eloquently the rejection of the Son of God by His own nation of Israel, in John 1:9-12:
That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.
THE GLOBAL PATTERN OF DIVINE INTERVENTION
I believe we see in the first advent narrative the continuation of the pattern of divine intervention first seen at the Exodus, at the Babylonian Captivity and at the deliverance of Nineveh. Let me summarize it as follows: A needy people cry out to God in desperation. God has respect to their cry and raises up an unlikely person, who, against the resistance of the establishment, is God’s agent to affect deliverance. In the next article, we will see if this pattern holds for the “deliverance” that took place at the birth of the United States.