As a family we use an advent calendar throughout December to prepare us for Christmas. There's a pocket for each day with something inside. Some days there's a challenge; some days there's a little figure to Velcro on to the nativity scene; some days there's a Bible verse or two.
This year is a bit different as, finally, all our kids can read! So I've been reworking the format to include Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah, as well as verses (from Luke, of course!) that tell the story of Jesus' birth. It's amazing to see the details of Jesus' arrival on earth being foretold hundreds of years before the event.
Check out these three prophecies from two Old Testament prophets:
"Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means 'God is with us')." (Isaiah 7:14)
"For the time is coming," says the Lord, "when I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David's line. He will be a King who rules with wisdom. " (Jeremiah 23:5)
"The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles… will be filled with glory." (Isaiah 9:1)
Then we flick to Luke chapter 1. Look how many details above are happening 600 to 700 years later:
"In the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, 'Greetings, favoured woman! The Lord is with you!' Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 'Don't be afraid, Mary,' the angel told her, 'for you have found favour with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David.'" (Luke 1:26-32)
Wow! God had his son's birth perfectly planned way in advance. And he used ordinary people, like Mary and Joseph, to bring it about. May the Christmas story give us hope that God is in control and that he can even use us to bring his kingdom on earth.