If Proof of Alien Intelligence is Revealed: What Then for Us Christians?

Project Aurora

The “If” in my headline above is doing a lot of work in that sentence. I’ve long been skeptical that reports of UFOs were signs we were being visited by advanced alien races. My suspicion has been that anything that couldn’t be explained by natural phenomena was most likely top secret, experimental projects by our government and others.

Please understand, that’s still my presumption.

I was also open to the idea that some of the phenomena people observed was spiritual (demonic) in nature. But if that was the case, no physical remnants of spacecraft or actual aliens would ever be located.

Nevertheless, there are some serious, credentialed, non-loony folks currently saying that our government, and other governments currently hold and are studying pieces of materials and technologies that seem to be of “non-human origin.”

For example, this week an article appeared in the online magazine The Debrief titled, “INTELLIGENCE OFFICIALS SAY U.S. HAS RETRIEVED AIRCRAFT OF NON-HUMAN ORIGIN.” The site covers news in the area of tech, defense, and the aerospace industry.

The claim is that our government and a few others have been secretly hoarding and studying these materials in hopes of gaining a military advantage over the others. A new “Cold War” the article called it.

If the assertions in that article are ultimately shown to be true . . . again, note the IF . . . then it will trigger shockwaves throughout Christianity that will make Charles Darwin’s case for a very old earth and gradual development of lower lifeforms into higher ones look like a minor ripple.

As a Christian teacher, it seems almost irresponsible not to at least ponder the implications of such a revelation. So back to the question in the title of this post: “If Proof of Alien Intelligence is Revealed: What Then for Us Christians?”

Not surprisingly, I’m far from the only one pondering this question right now. Here’s a smart blogger I follow, Daniel Sinclair, examining it in a recent post titled: Will Christianity Collapse if Intelligent Aliens are Discovered? And another, Evan Minton, with: What Would Aliens Mean For The Christian Worldview? Both are worth your time. I’ve given this some thought as well. And I have incorporated a few of their observations into mine.

So let’s run a thought experiment . . .

Let’s say indisputable proof emerges next week that advanced, intelligent life exists on a planet other than earth. What then? Will the Christian faith or worldview be critically undermined or invalidated?

The answer is: It depends, but probably not.

The purpose of the ancient book of Genesis—particularly the opening three chapters—was not to answer 21st Century questions about the processes that brought the universe into being. It was to let the Israelite tribes (and ultimately you and me) know that the world and its people are not as God originally intended them to be. That something went terribly wrong. That creation is broken and we are broken. That there was a “Fall.” But . . .

The opening three chapters of Genesis also reveal that God immediately put into motion a plan to make right what had gone so terribly wrong. A plan that culminated in the arrival of another “Adam” who would begin to restore and repair what the first Adam had forfeited and corrupted.

So the Fall is presuppositional to the entire Christian faith. In fact, the late Charles Colson wrote that a biblical worldview had to contain three elements. Creation, the Fall, and Redemption.

What Genesis doesn’t tell us is . . .

the scope of the Fall. We know that mankind was affected. Catastrophically so. In the Genesis narrative, God’s pronouncement of the implications of what Adam and Eve had done makes that clear. We also see planet Earth impacted as well. “Cursed is the ground because of you . . .” (Gen. 3:17)

What is not clear is whether or not the entire universe was subjected to “the curse.” We know that entropy–the tendency of all matter and energy to decay, dissolve, and generally wind down—is a universal law of physics.

Is universal entropy an effect of the curse? That’s unclear. There is the line in Romans 8 about “all creation” groaning in anticipation of the revealing of the “sons of God.” (v. 22) But if . . . IF . . . God created other planets filled with life in this unimaginably vast universe, were they affected by the Fall as well?

God is just. And it would not seem just nor fair to have the rebellious failure on the part of one planet’s stewards bring a curse upon the innocent stewards of other planets.

Which presents a number of possibilities for our hypothetical aliens . . .

Possibility 1: The Fall of mankind on earth did not impact other inhabited planets (if there are any). This might explain why the (hypothetical) inhabitants of such a planet are so much more advanced than ours. Who knows how much the effects of the curse slowed down our advancement and development as a species. That would also mean such interplanetary travelers would be friendly and benevolent. Not unlike angels but, like us, would have natural material bodies and be able to reproduce.

Possibility 2: The Fall of mankind on earth DID impact other inhabited planets. This seems far less likely (or just) and it opens up a whole array of thorny questions. Did the eternally pre-existent God-the-Son, need to be incarnated as one of those other beings to redeem them, just as He had to become one of us? Or, since the Fall happened here, the Son only needed to be incarnated here, but it is now our responsibility to deliver the Good News to the inhabitants of other planets? After all, in the Great Commission, Jesus’ instructions were to preach the gospel “to all creation.” (pas ktisis in the Greek.) Those are the same Greek words Paul used in Romans 8:22 in saying that “all creation” groans to see the revealing of the sons of God. Would it be fair to have the inhabitants of another planet wait many thousands of years for our technology to make evangelizing them possible? Well, there are currently remote tribes on THIS planet who still haven’t been reached by missionaries, and they’ve been waiting 2,000 years.

Possibility 3: The non-terrestrial visitors are highly intelligent and advanced, but were not created “in the image and likeness of God” as Adam and Eve were. Over the centuries, many theologians have wrestled with the meaning of those words from Genesis 1:26-27. They call it the “Imago Dei.” I don’t believe they mean, necessarily that we look like God. I believe being His “image bearers” means we carry a spark of divine Life . . . His “breath.” But more importantly, that we also carry His seal of delegated authority. We represent Him. His intention was (and is) for His people to oversee the earth as His proxy rulers. That means this place belongs to us. But it also means it’s possible that any hyper-intelligent visitors that were NOT created Imago Dei lack the breath of God. This would make them a class of being we do not have here on Earth—essentially an animal that is smarter than we are.

None of these possibilities presents an existential threat to the Christian faith. As long as . . .

As long as we don’t make the mistake that many of my Christian fundamentalist friends have made in the past and continue to make. Namely, the belief that everything that IS has to have been mentioned explicitly in the Bible somewhere. And if it’s not mentioned in the Bible, then it cannot BE. And it if cannot be, then it’s a trick of the devil.

This is where such folks stood when the first dinosaur fossils began to emerge. They didn’t see dinosaurs in the Bible and therefore crafted elaborate explanations for why those fossils weren’t what they seemed to be. Once the evidence became undeniable, then fell back and dug in on new positions and twisted themselves into logical and evidentiary pretzels. All out of a (flawed, in my view) assumption about why God gave us the Bible and how we’re intended to read it.

So here’s where I currently stand . . .

“Currently” is the operative word in that subhead.

I suspect it takes, mathematically, a universe THIS big to end up with ONE place as perfect for life as this gorgeous blue marble is. Which means we’re alone in the material universe. Of course, the material universe is NOT all there is. Far from it.

That time they pointed the Hubble telescope at an “empty” portion of our night sky . . .

Even though the current rumors and speculation swirl around individuals with much more credibility than the usual fringe fanatics who know “The Truth is Out There,” I’m still skeptical for reasons I won’t take the time to go into here.

But if I’m wrong, it won’t shake my faith. Not because I’m prepared to reject any and all evidence that doesn’t comport with my interpretation of Genesis. Not because I would close my eyes and stick my fingers in my ears shouting “LA LA LA . . . I can’t hear you.”

Like the two theologians whose blog posts I linked to above, I’m convinced such a revelation, no matter how unlikely I think it might be, presents no threat to authentic, historic Christianity.

I’m convinced the story the Bible is telling contains room for nearly any eventuality. There is nothing in the Apostle’s Creed, the Nicene Creed or any other ancient creed of the Church that would be negated by evidence of intelligent life on another planet.

By the way, I think about these things so you don’t have to.

The Illusion of Scarcity

I’ll be refilling the bird feeders this morning. Those little guys think the seed they see on those feeders is all there is. So sometimes they fight over access to them.

They have no idea that there is a virtually unlimited supply of bird seed in my storage cabinets and at the stores around the corner. And they have no conception that it is my delight to provide food for them . . . that it brings me joy. 

For believers, scarcity is an illusion. Abundance is the reality. In His house . . .

  • Provision isn’t scarce.
  • Love isn’t scarce.
  • Significance isn’t scarce.
  • Opportunity isn’t scarce. 

Your neighbor’s blessing, windfall, promotion, or breakthrough doesn’t diminish the pool of what is available to you. Some other person’s large slice of pie doesn’t leave less for others. The pie is infinite.

So, we can rest. Breathe. 
In Him, there are unseen reservoirs of everything we need to flourish. Our Father delights in blessing in His children

Jesus: Your “All Access Pass” to the Father

This perfectly wise plan was destined from eternal ages and fulfilled completely in our Lord Jesus Christ, so that now we have boldness through him, and free access as kings before the Father because of our complete confidence in Christ’s faithfulness. (Ephesians 3:11-12, TPT)

” . . . free access as kings . . .”

In the world of concerts and sporting events, there are tickets (good). There are front-row tickets (better). There are backstage passes (best). And then there is something called the “All Access Pass.” (epic)

When it comes to relationship with the God of the Universe, many believers seem satisfied with just having a ticket. They know they’re going to heaven when they die. And they know God hears them when they pray—although He often seems distant and disinterested.

Yet as the verse above suggests, Jesus is, in a very real sense, an “All Access Pass” to the Father and to everything Jesus died to purchase for us. One of the most significant, meaningful, and impactful realities of the new birth—a miracle which puts us “in Christ” and Him in us—is that we now have complete, confident, “free,” and “bold” access to our heavenly Father.

Yet most believers don’t think or act as if this is their reality. Too many believers let shame and guilt keep them at a distance from God’s presence. They’re sitting in the nosebleed section. From where they sit, it sure seems as though the crowd gathered in front the stage is having a very good time.

This is because they have forgotten, or have never been taught, that they never come to God in their own flawed righteousness. They can’t! They always and only come in Jesus’ righteousness. The tragedy is that it is only in God’s presence—in intimate fellowship, conversation, and communion with Him—that they can experience the transformation that changes the behaviors that cause their shame and guilt.

When I’ve acted unrighteously, when I’ve sinned, when I’ve made a mess of things, that’s when I must run to my Father. There the light of His presence will illuminate the dark, unrenewed corners of my soul so they can be made new. Only that light can expose the lies I’ve believed that are the root of my patterns of sin and failure.

Hebrews 4:16 says we can and should “come boldly” to God’s throne of grace, and there find both mercy and help in our times of need. But if I don’t understand the reality that I have received a better righteousness because I am “in Christ,” I will let my shame keep me away from the only place that can fix what’s broken.

We never again need to approach God on the basis of our own righteousness. By grace, we have literally “become” the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

All of this means we can view the door to God’s Presence as always wide open. Once we renew our minds to those truths—once we root our identities in them—we begin to feel free to fly to the Father’s arms of love at any moment of need or crisis.

What’s more, we will no longer view spending time with God as a box to be checked in order to qualify for blessing or answered prayer. Fellowshipping with our Creator becomes a privilege not a prerequisite. An opportunity not an ought.

That means our times with the Father become a source of joy in our lives. With Him we receive strength and nourishment and instruction. What’s more, in His Presence we experience transformation. Our desires begin to change. Whereas countless believers spend their entire lives trying (and failing) to change from the outside in through sheer discipline and willpower, we will experience seemingly effortless change from the inside out.

We discover a life without the fear of rejection. Without the fear of judgment. Without the fear of not qualifying for what Jesus died to provide.

That’s the epic power of our “All Access Pass” in Jesus.

2023: We Need a Revelation of Authority

I’m not a prophet by spiritual office. Teacher is my heavenly assignment and I’m gifted accordingly. Yet the Bible exhorts every believer to desire to prophesy (1 Corinthians 14:1) and, as it happens, in recent years, around this time, I’ve found the Spirit of Truth speaking to me about the year ahead. After all, Jesus said one of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to show us things to come. (John 16:13)

Most of what I usually see/hear/sense relates personally–to me and my household. Some of it relates to the church I pastor, The Cup & Table Co., as a community of believers. And occasionally I get preparatory glimpses for the Body of Christ as a whole, our nation, and the world. 

What follows is what I’m getting for for myself and like-hearted believers:

We need a revelation of “authority.”

I’m not just talking about our authority in Jesus Christ, although that is a part of it. My sense is that we don’t understand authority at all. That we’re living in an age in which the spirit of the age is chaos and rebellion and individualism and autonomous willfulness. (I’m increasingly convinced that we can’t walk in spiritual authority while rejecting the truth about authority in general.)

Yes, we need to understand the authority “in heaven and on earth” that Jesus achieved through His victory (Matt. 28:18). But before we can understand that, we need to understand how God views authority in general. 

Authority is related to order. And order is the antidote to chaos. God loves order. The opening lines of the book of Genesis reveal an earth that is utterly chaotic, and the spirit of God hovering, brooding, fluttering over the chaos in preparation for God speaking and bringing order. 

I’ve always sensed there was great significance in the words uttered by the messenger of of the Roman centurion in the 7th chapter of Luke:

. . . but just say the word, and my servant shall be healed.For I also am a man placed under authority, with soldiers under myself; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” Now when Jesus heard this, He was amazed at him . . . 

Luke 7:9b-11a)

(The Greek word translated “authority” there is exousia. It appears 93 times in the New Testament, usually rendered “authority” but sometimes as “power.”) 

A life in the Roman army had given that centurion a deeply ingrained understanding of rank, chain-of-command, and of territorial rule. That’s something a lot of believers today know very little about. 

Zoom out to 50,000 feet over the scriptures and you’ll see a picture emerge that reveals God’s ways involving hierarchy and delegated authority. 

Any people (like the Church in America) whose banner is, “No one is going to tell me what I can and can’t do,” will not . . . indeed cannot . . . effectivelly wield the authority that is ours in the resurrected, glorified, exalted Christ. We need what that centurion had.

I personally need to know more about how authority works in the invisible realm. I suspect we all do. Here’s good news. “If any one of you lacks wisdom, let them ask confidently . . . and God will freely give.” The Holy Spirit’s assignment is to lead us into all truth. That, as we’ve been seeing recently, inescapably involves exposing lies we’re believing. 

We have not because we ask not. Let’s ask for a revelation of spiritual authority and how it impacts systems of natural authority.

The centurion was utterly confident that all Jesus needed to do was “say the word.” That is, “give the command.” “Give voice to the decree.” 

As we get a clearer, fuller picture of how authority is structured and works, we’ll better know how and when to partner with God by giving voice to the commands that cause His will to be done here on earth, just as it is routinely done in the unseen realm. What, how, and when are a big deal. We generally just reflexively fire off prayers without thought or insight or perception. (See the teaching on Seeing and Decreeing

Our World

The Spirit of Jesus doesn’t give us insight into what’s coming just so we can say, “I knew that would happen.” We get glimpses for two reasons, so we can (1) Prepare, and so we can (2) Pray. With that in mind . . .

The believers in China and Russia need our intercession. The dictatorial leaders of both nations (Putin and Xi) are approaching the end of the line. There are ancient demonic spirits that have animated dictators through the millennia. The same unseen actors that animated the kings of Babylon, Assyria, Egypt, Rome, the Seleucid Greeks of Antiochus Epiphanes, the Abbasid Caliphate, Genghis Khan’s Mongols, Stalin’s Soviets, and Hitler’s Nazis . . . stand behind our current crop of despots. 

The arc of those who yield themselves to those powers is always the same. Initial empowerment and success featuring brutality and cruelty; leading to madness and fatal mistakes. We’re entering the madness and mistakes phase for both leaders. 

As the Spirit leads us, let’s be ready and willing to intercede for our brothers sisters in difficult circumstances around the planet. One side benefit . . .

Glimpsing what other believers are enduring will put our situations as American believers into perspective. Perspective is valuable. Perspective is vital. 

Grace and Truth

The election turmoil and pandemic disruptions resulted in a thin veil of deception falling over the eyes of large sections of the evangelical world, including many spiritual leaders. It is a veil that doesn’t blind but does distort the way they “see.”

The fruit of this “veil” . . . the evidence of its presence . . . was and is anger, bitterness, resentment, and despair. (It should go without saying that these fruits are never appropriate for sons and daughters of a reigning King who is in the middle of riding to victory over His enemies.)

I see that “veil” beginning to dissolve now. We need to contend for that dissolving to continue and accelerate. The truth is our friend. The biblical definition of truth is not “knowledge” or “information” but “reality” in other words, “what’s really real” in contrast to that which merely appears to be real.

In Closing

These words of Jesus to His disciples hold a key piece of God’s word to us for 2023:

“There is so much more I would like to say to you, but it’s more than you can grasp at this moment.  But when the truth-giving Spirit comes, he will unveil the reality of every truth. He won’t speak on his own, but only what he hears from the Father, and he will reveal prophetically  to you what is to come. He will glorify me on the earth, for he will receive from me what is mine and reveal it to you. Everything that belongs to the Father belongs to me—that’s why I say that the Divine Encourager will receive what is mine and reveal it to you. 

John 16:12-15 TPT

Simeon’s Prophetic Warning

Rembrandt – “Circumcision”

Mary and Joseph stood there, awestruck over what was being said about their baby. Simeon then blessed them and prophesied over Mary, saying: “A painful sword will one day pierce your inner being, for your child will be rejected by many in Israel. And the destiny of your child is this: he will be laid down as a miracle sign for the downfall and resurrection of many in Israel. Many will oppose this sign, but it will expose to all the innermost thoughts of their hearts before God.” 

(Luke 2:34–35)

After a long lifetime of waiting and watching, Simeon has finally laid his dimming eyes upon the promised Seed through Whom all the nations of the earth will be blessed. He can now depart in peace. 

But wait. As he holds the 40-day-old infant, the spirit of prophecy moves him. After speaking a blessing over the parents, he brings words of stark warning—for both the mother and the nation he loves. He sees heartache in Mary’s future. The source of her pain will be the rejection of her Son by many of his countrymen. Jesus’ presence and preaching will expose the true nature of hearts. Some will respond in a way that will lead to a resurrection—a new birth. Others will reject Him, to their everlasting “downfall.”

Indeed, the gospels reveal that Jesus will go through all the villages and synagogues of both Judea and Galilee. (Matthew 9:35) His preaching will be filled with classic Old Testament prophetic vocabulary, frequently warning of a fiery judgment coming to that generation of Israelites. (Scan Luke’s gospel and count how many times Jesus uses the phrase “this generation.”)

And, consistent with Simeon’s prophecy, His illustrations will frequently describe a sorting and dividing of the people who hear his message. Jesus will speak of wheat being separated from chaff. And wheat from tares. He will speak of the sorting of sheep and goats. And of fish after a catch. He will describe His Words of Life as seeds falling on four different kinds of soil. 

By the Spirit, Simeon saw what so many other Scripture experts of his day completely missed. The Messiah hadn’t come to unify the Jewish people against Rome. On the contrary, He was destined to divide them. For some He would be “the way” to new life. For many others, He would become a stone over which they would stumble and fall. (John 6:60-65)

Everything Simeon prophesies on this day will came to pass. The reactions to Jesus’ words will reveal the true nature of hearts. Many among the pious Pharisees and other religious elites will not only reject Him but despise Him. Yet many of those who had long ago abandoned both the ethics and observances of the Mosaic Law will return to God with joyful tears.

Finally, Simeon sees past the Jesus’ ministry as a prophet to His service as a priest—as both High Priest and sacrifice Lamb. He will be “laid down” (on a cross) and then lifted up as a “miracle sign” to the nation. 

Prayer of Declaration:

Jesus—Prophet, Priest and King—you willingly laid your life down so that I, and countless others around the world, and throughout history might receive eternal life. My heart is soft toward you. My ears are attuned to your voice. I’m good soil for your Words of Life!

A Glimpse of God’s Face

Rembrandt’s “Simeon and Anna in the Temple” – Wikimedia Commons

And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband for seven years after her marriage, and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She did not leave the temple grounds, serving night and day with fasts and prayers.”

(Luke 2:36–37 NASB)

Simeon was not the only aging Israelite with the gift of prophecy to receive Messianic revelation on the day Joseph and Mary went to the temple to “redeem” their firstborn son.

The old man was there at that precise moment only because the Spirit of God had directed him there. But Anna, an elderly widow, lived there in the temple complex. Although not a Levite, she was nevertheless allowed to reside and serve on the Temple Mount. She must have been very special.

Perhaps Luke mentions her father’s name because he was an important man. Luke also informs us that Anna is eighty-four and had been widowed after only seven years of marriage. A little math, along with the assumption that, per the customs of that culture, Anna had been wed as a teenager, suggests that Anna had likely been a widow for roughly six decades. Had she been serving and prophesying at the Temple complex that entire time? If so, she was certainly an iconic figure among all the devout of Israel.

We can safely assume that Simeon’s ecstatic reaction at encountering the baby Messiah caught Anna’s attention. Or perhaps the Spirit had nudged her just as it had Simeon. In either case, she walks up just as Simeon finishes prophesying. Luke tells us:

And at that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak about Him to all those who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. (Luke 2:38 NASB)

Anna’s testimony will serve as a significant source of fuel to the fires of Messianic expectation that will engulf the land in the days to come. Fires so hot, that when, in thirty years, John the Baptist begins preaching way out at the Jordan River, “all of Jerusalem will come out to hear him.” (see: Mark 1:5) 

Throughout six decades of service at the Jerusalem temple, this large open plaza outside the gates of the inner complex, sometimes called the Court of the Women, is as close to the heart of the temple Anna, or any other woman, has ever been permitted to stand.

One level deeper lies the Court of Israel, (or the Court of Men). Deeper still lies the Court of Priests. Finally, in very heart of the complex, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. The latter chamber is where the very presence of God is said to dwell. Only the High Priest is allowed into that sacred space, and only once each year. 

Here’s the irony. On this day, this devout widow gets closer to the presence of God than the corrupt High Priest ever has or will. Anna has seen the face of God. 

Prayer of Declaration:

Jesus, the curtain or veil that blocked access to the Temple’s Holy of Holies was torn in two as you laid your life down for me. Through your blood, I now have direct and free access to the very Presence and Person of God, my Heavenly Father.

All Must Be Fulfilled

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Eight days later, when the baby was circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel even before he was conceived. Then it was time for their purification offering, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child . . . 

(Luke 2:21-22a NLT)

After the fall festival pilgrims and Roman census travelers returned to their homes, it seems Joseph and Mary were able to find better quarters in Bethlehem. Luke doesn’t say so explicitly, but the new parents appear to have been intent on staying there permanently. 

This move makes sense given that both received revelation from an angel that this child was the long-awaited Messiah of Israel. Human reason surely suggested that it would be better to raise this most special of all Jewish boys in close proximity to Jerusalem and the Temple, rather than in far-away Nazareth. And what better place to groom the successor to David’s throne than in David’s hometown? (Of course, this is not God’s plan, but the couple doesn’t know it yet.)

So, they take great pains to do all their ancient faith requires. That includes having the baby boy circumcised on his eighth day. As with his relative, John, who is now six or seven months old, the name is announced at this ceremony. Both angels had been quite specific—Jesus, or Y’shua in Hebrew, was to be the name. And so it was. 

This meticulous attention to both Old Testament observance and fulfillment will continue throughout Jesus’ life and ministry. He will one day tell His disciples that He did not come to set aside the law and the prophets but rather to be their fulfillment. (Matthew 5:17) Time and again He will explain His actions and intentions in terms of fulfilling everything the (Old Testament) Scriptures had spoken.

Following His resurrection, in some of His final instruction just prior to His ascension to the throne, He will emphatically point them back to this aspect of His mission:

“Don’t you remember the words that I spoke to you when I was still with you? I told you that I would fulfill everything written about me, including all the prophecies from the law of Moses through the Psalms and the writings of the prophets.” (Luke 24:44 TPT)

There are two vital takeaways for us here. The first is that the entire Old Testament was pointing to Jesus—even though few if any recognized it before He came. As we’ve previously seen, the Bible is story about a Seed and that Seed is Jesus.

Secondly, one of the very best parts of the “good news” of the gospel is that Jesus is our fulfillment of all the Law requires. He did what is impossible for you or any other fallen human: He flawlessly kept the legal requirements of righteousness and acceptance by a Holy God. And simple, childlike faith in Him results in a miraculous transaction/transformation that simultaneously puts you “in Him” and Him in you. (Romans 6:3-4; Ephesians 1:3-14) From Heaven’s perspective you literally are “clothed” in Him and His righteousness. (Galatians 3:27) 

Prayer of Declaration:

Jesus, my Savior, thank you for perfectly and completely satisfying, for all time, everything that the Law and justice requires on my behalf. I am clothed with You—Your righteousness, Your acceptance, Your authority.

The Very Heart of the Good News

A child has been born for us . . . And His name will be called . . .  The Mighty God! The Father of Eternity! 

(Isaiah 9:6 TPT)

More than 700 years before it happened, Isaiah sees the most important event of human history: the promised Messiah’s arrival. In various visions, the prophet foresees not only Jesus’ birth but His rejection by Judah’s religious elite. In hindsight, we now know what caused that surprising rejection.

It was not a claim to Messiahship that turned the religious establishment against Jesus. In fact, Jesus diligently avoided making any such claim in public. On the contrary, He frequently pleaded with those who discovered His true identity to keep it a secret. 

No, it was His habit of calling God “Father” with affectionate familiarity that set religious teeth on edge. After all, the pious leaders of Judah dared not even pronounce or write God’s name. His references to He and Father being “one” sent them looking for stones with which to crush His skull. (John 10:30-31) And ultimately, it was His matter-of-fact declaration that “before Abraham was, I AM” that drove them mad with murderous rage. (John 8:58-59)

In other words, Jesus plainly claimed to be the Son of God. And to be God. 

It was a puzzle. They were actually looking for the Messiah. Centuries of rabbinic study and careful parsing of the scriptures led the learned Jewish scholars of the first century to correctly anticipate the arrival of God’s “Messiah” in their lifetimes. But somehow those studies did not lead them to expect the arrival of God Himself, clothed in human flesh. 

Yet even a schoolchild reading Isaiah could see it. The prophet clearly wrote that the “child” would be called “Mighty God.” If Isaiah’s prophecy had been taken at face value, the scholars and scriptural experts would have known that the promised Messiah must somehow be both human and divine. Human because He would be “born.” Divine because He would be called “The Mighty God” and “Everlasting Father.” 

The paradox of Jesus’ simultaneous humanity and divinity became the stone over which first century intellectuals and elites stumbled and fell into skeptical disbelief. It is in our day, too. Yet it is the very heart of the good news. It is no wonder John opened his gospel with these words:

In the beginning the Living Expression was already there. And the Living Expression was with God, yet fully God . . . And so the Living Expression became a man and lived among us! We gazed upon his glory, the glory of the One and Only who came from the Father overflowing with grace and truth! (John 1:1,14 TPT)

Don’t stumble over it. Don’t try to understand it. Just believe and rejoice in the astonishing thought that Mighty God, the Father of Eternity, loved you enough to die for you.

Prayer of Declaration

What a mystery! What a miracle! The one called The Mighty God is my Champion. Because of You, Jesus, I too can refer to God as “Father” with the affectionate familiarity You did. Oh, Father of Eternity, You have given me everlasting life.

The Royal Scepter Finds its Rightful Hand

The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from his descendants, until the coming of the one to whom it belongs, the one whom all nations will honor.

(Genesis 49:10 NLT)
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Jacob, advanced in years, eyesight dimming, strength failing, feels a strange stirring in his weary soul. It has been a very long time since he last felt this power, but He recognizes it. It is the spirit of prophecy. It’s clear now. Before he dies, Jacob must speak over each of his 12 sons, so he summons them to his bedside.

These are not necessarily words of blessing but words of destiny. For better or for worse, Jacob’s prophetic pronouncement over each son will outline a future for their descendants—one that is rooted both in the character and calling of the man. 

He begins with the eldest, Reuben, and then moves on to Simeon and Levi. His forecasts for their posterities are not encouraging. Quite the opposite. So Judah, the fourth-born, is bracing himself for bad news as his turn approaches. 

Instead, this prophetic pronouncement over Judah—the longest one Jacob will deliver, except for the one for his beloved Joseph—holds nothing but good news. At the heart of it lies a prediction filled with kingly symbolism. A “scepter” is mentioned, as is a “ruler’s staff.” Jacob’s decree suggests that when the future God-ordained kings of Israel arise, they will come from one tribe only: the descendants of the one whose name means “praise.” 

And so it would be. From David to Zedekiah, only men of Judah ruled from Jerusalem.

But wait! There is an expiration date on Jacob’s prophetic prediction. The Tribe of Judah’s monopoly on the throne of Judah was only “until . . .” Until what?

“. . . until the coming of the one to whom it belongs, the one whom all nations will honor.”

Roughly 1,800 years after Jacob’s prophecy, two direct descendants of Judah will meet. One of those descendants, a young maiden, will become the “promised One’s” biological mother. The other, a man, will serve as His legal father. There, lying in Mary’s arms as Joseph looks on, is that One to whom the scepter truly belongs. No other kings will come from Judah. Nor should they. 

After all, the King of Kings has come. And soon, people of “all nations”—hearts from every tribe and tongue in every corner of the planet—will hear of it and honor Him.

Prayer of Declaration

Jesus, my King, all authority in heaven and on earth is Yours. Truly heaven’s royal scepter and the ruler’s staff of earth belong to You, and You alone. What a blessing it is to be the subject of a King who is kind, good, and compassionate, yet mighty and wise. May You receive the honor You are due among the nations. May Your enemies be made a footstool for Your feet.

Miracle Baby Forerunner

Abraham and Isaac (Wikimedia Commons)

Then the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, “By Myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son, indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed [plural] as the stars of the heavens and as the sand, which is on the seashore . . . And in your seed [singular] all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” 

Genesis 22:15-19 NASB

The entire Old Testament narrative points to the coming of Jesus. Yet that pointing takes a variety of forms. As we’ll soon see, some passages record the visions of prophets who glimpsed Him. In other places, rituals, feasts, and ceremonies serve as “types and shadows” of who Jesus would be and what He would accomplish through His death and resurrection. 

There is a third form of pointing that could be called “forerunner-ing.” Some individuals in the Old Testament literally blazed a trail for the future Messiah. They opened legal windows between heaven and earth to make it possible for God to deliver His redemptive masterplan.

As noted in the previous meditation, once God made mankind the legal stewards of planet earth, vesting them with dominion authority, God was constrained by His own righteousness and character to work in partnership with fallen men and women in order to accomplish His redemptive plans. That’s why the opening section of this devotional is labeled, “Prophecies & Prerequisites.” For reasons cloaked in mystery, some things were simply necessary if Jesus was ultimately going to be born.

Abraham and his son Isaac represent two such forerunners. Before God could offer up His only Son as a sacrifice for the sin of all mankind, it seems it was necessary to begin that process with a mortal man who was willing to offer up his beloved son as a sacrifice. Only such a man could serve as the natural ancestor to the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world. 

This future sacrificial Son would be a miracle baby. Therefore, the forerunner child would have to have a miraculous aspect to his birth, too. Isaac, the forerunner, carried the wood to the top of the hill where his own sacrifice was to take place. The ultimate Seed would one day carry a wooden crossbeam to the hilltop where He would willing lay down His life.

In a sense, Isaac was a forerunner of the resurrection too. Hebrews 11:19 declares: “Abraham’s faith made it logical to him that God could raise Isaac from the dead, and symbolically, that’s exactly what happened.” (TPT)

Mary’s miracle baby was Abraham’s promised “Seed” through whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed. That Seed was possible because God found a willing partner in Abraham. God is still looking for partners today—people of faith and trust who will be His instruments in blessing others.

Prayer of Declaration

Father, I’m willing and ready to partner with You and carrying out Your redemptive purposes in the world. I hear You clearly through Your Spirit and Your Word. I’ll say what You want me to say and manifest Your compassion to those You want to touch in love.