The incarnation didn’t just happen, as we observed in the previous post God took a long time preparing for that first Christmas, and for very good reason.
There was indeed much to be done, God couldn’t just turn up. For God to come in Christ as he did, he needed to prepare the way, to prepare peoples hearts and minds that they might truly know him, his ways, and how they could relate to him.
That’s where God’s calling and dealings with Israel come in. To that end the story of Israel is one of the revealing of God to those whom he had created – the breaking in of God upon the hearts and minds of humanity, a humanity broken, distanced and separated by sin.
For that reason he chose Abraham, a man from a pagan background, and no special individual. He gave him a family, and from that family chose and brought forth the people and nation of Israel, a people who were no more special than any other nation on earth, the least of all people’s, and as it turned out, a stubborn, rebellious people at that.
Over a period of time God made himself known to them in different and varied ways, ways that would distinguish him from the non gods of the surrounding nations as the only true and living God, a God worthy of their praise and devotion.
Part of that was a variety of rules and religious rituals, rules and rituals that may seem strange to us today and somewhat of a palaver, but they were all a necessary part of how he revealed himself to them and how he educated them in their knowledge of and relationship to him. They enabled them to understand exactly who he was, the difference and distance between them and God, and how they should relate to him.
It would tell of his undeserved covenant love and faithfulness, his unending mercy and grace, the nature and depths of sin, the way of redemption, forgiveness, atonement, salvation. It would tell of prophet, priest and king, and the promise of Messiah which would ultimately lead to the womb of a young virgin girl and the incarnation of the Saviour God.