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Jesus: Our Everlasting


Hope: God is Coming (But in an Unexpected Way)

Wednesday, December 6 | by Dr. Michael Whiting

Today's Reading

Zechariah 2:10-13; 9:9-10

As Jesus approached Jerusalem for his final week, he wept over the city. The people of Israel were in exile under Roman rule and were longing for the day when they would be released from captivity and restored to their independent prosperity and blessing under God’s favor.

As Jesus rode into Jerusalem, He wept because the nation did not recognize the time of their visitation, of God’s coming and presence in their very midst. This was the visitation that was promised through the prophet Zechariah several hundred years prior.

"Shout and be glad, Daughter Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you," declares the Lord. "Many nations will be joined with the Lord in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you. The Lord will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land and will again choose Jerusalem.Be still before the Lord, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling." (Zechariah 2:10-13)

Israel’s hope of redemption was described as the coming of God. It was a time when they would no longer feel separated from God but would experience God "with" them. What many did not realize, however, was that God was coming to them in the very form and appearance of a man – but not just any man. Israel had experienced God "with" them through various deliverers before – Moses, Samson, David, Judah Maccabees, but this coming would be uniquely different. Jesus would not just be a mighty person empowered by God for a special mission, but the Father’s very divine nature incarnate from heaven – the Son of God (John 1:1-14).

The coming of God in His Messiah was not going to be in the way they were expecting either. In fact, His very entrance into Jerusalem on "Palm Sunday" would set apart the uniqueness of that coming. The announcement of His coming in Zechariah 2 is later identified with the arrival of a great King in Zechariah 9:9-10 (cf. Mark 11:1-10), whose coming would be one of humble peace rather than military war.

To be sure, Jesus did engage in war, but it was a war directed at hearts and at the spiritual forces behind hatred and injustice. Jesus cast out demons, healed the sick, and preached on behalf of the poor against the greedy rich. He urged people to repent of sins rooted in pride and to be transformed by the work of the Spirit. His teachings against the religious leaders were viewed as an incitement to rebellion, although He urged faithfulness and patience through persecution. His union and identification with the Father was declared to be blasphemy, and even with all the divine testimony of His miracles and perfect obedience to the commandments of God, He was rejected, publicly scorned, and ultimately murdered.

As one author puts it, "Jesus was well aware that what He was doing didn’t fit with what people were expecting. But he believed that he was indeed launching God’s kingdom campaign. He was the one in whose presence, work, and teaching Israel’s God was indeed becoming King."

This season, we celebrate that God came to Israel as He promised, but His coming was a mystery among those He lived. Although the various Hebrew Scriptures pieced together foretold the nature of His coming, human expectation and pride clouded judgment, and God’s visitation among them was not only missed but in His betrayal and suffering unto death; it was Jesus who was considered forsaken by God.

Why was the visitation of God in Jesus so difficult to see? Because people’s hearts were blinded by the association of power and salvation with physical prosperity and the use of force, and sin more with the evil of their enemies rather than the idolatrous greed, pride, and unbelief of their own hearts. Humans also have their own strategies and plans for making the world what they think it should be and want it to be, but God confounded all of those in His wisdom as Jesus worked in meekness and mercy to manifest signs of His eternal Kingdom.

Many this Christmas still do not know or understand what is so special about Jesus. Our society is more captivated by wealth, position, popularity, and physical might. These are the kind of people who are followed and whose lives are most coveted. These are the people who seem to get what they want and can have whatever they desire. The life of a humble, suffering servant of others does not seem as thrilling, desirable, or pragmatic, but the Word of God teaches us that this was the very coming of God to fulfill the hope of Israel and all nations.

Let us remember that even we who are followers of Jesus can miss His presence and work daily among us. We may be looking for flashy signs or grand miracles, or speedy rescues, but God often defies expectations and works in ways that make human wisdom as foolishness. As with the coming of Christ, He may have yet a work to do in us before He chooses to do a work for us.

We may be looking for flashy signs or grand miracles or speedy rescues, but God often defies expectations and works in ways that challenge human wisdom. As in the coming of Christ, He may have yet a work to do in us before He chooses to do a work outwardly for us.

And while we do still await with hope for the restoration of all things to righteousness and justice, God has come to Israel, ushering in reconciliation with Him and guaranteeing the future resurrection of a new world for people of all nations. 

Dr. Michael Whiting serves as Associate Professor of Christian History and Leadership and Director of Written Content at Dallas Baptist University.

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