Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
I have chosen the title of this message from the hymn written by Charles Wesley.
I do not think that the humble shepherds had any inkling that that night was any different from any other night as they began their night watch over their flocks under the glimmering light of the Judean sky. Yet in a few brief hours they would be visited by the Angel of the Lord and his celestial companions and hear Ė "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger." Luke 2:10-16
It is clear from the context that these men were believers! They did not stand around puzzling over what the significance of the Angel of the Lordís announcement was. They expressed no worry that they might be having a mass hallucination nor did they fear what the skeptics might say. All indications are that they left their sheep under the protection of God and went as fast as they could to see the Christ child. But there is more. According to verse 17, when the left, "they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child." Let me remind you what they were told Ė "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."
The question naturally comes, "Why did the shepherds respond in such a positive way?" The answer is, that from the beginning there was a great and precious promise that one-day a Redeemer, a Messiah, a Savior would come into the world. They obviously knew of the promise and believed it! They believed the Heavenly Herald!
You all know how we are always teaching and preaching that Christ
is the Savior and that each person must believe in Him and receive
Him as Savior. We are always emphasizing that truth! Back in that
day, faithful priests and teachers emphasized that there was a
promised Redeemer coming! Letís begin by looking atÖ
The first general promise of the Messiah-Redeemer is somewhat vague, yet it served as an anchor, to keep believing menís hopes from drifting into despair. Turn in your Bibles to Genesis 3:15 "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."
I just love this passage! No doubt that Satan was reveling in his victory over deceiving Eve and Adam willingly choosing to follow her in choosing to believe Satanís lie instead of following Godís truth. But, the rejoicing is short-lived! In the presence of the Tempter, God gives hope to our fallen fore-parents and puts Satan on notice the he is going to get his head stomped on and be defeated. God was pointing forward to the time when One would come into the arena of this world and crush Satanís power.
This veiled promise of a Victorious Redeemer certainly gave our
first parents hope as they went out the fire-guarded gates of Eden
never to return there again, and into the sin-cursed world (Genesis
I believe it was this promise that was the secret to Abelís wisdom in offering a more excellent, atoning sacrifice, as he looked forward to Christ as the sacrificial lamb of God (Hebrews 11:4).
It was the fear of God and the hope of a coming Redeemer that motivated Noah to offer animal sacrifices and sprinkle the blood on the altar he built when he came forth from the ark. As he worshipped God with his family under the Rainbow of promise, he looked forward to the Messiah-Redeemer that would come.
It was this same hope of a coming Redeemer that was the ground of fellowship between Enoch and his God, which also caused Enoch to prophesy, "Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints," Jude 1:14
The hope of this coming Redeemer was a great source of rejoicing for Abraham! We know this is true because our Lord said "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad." John 8:56
Jacob of old was expecting the Messiah-Redeemer. As he is on his deathbed, surrounded by his 12 sorrowful boys, he says to them, pointing across the centuries, "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be." Genesis 49:10
I believe, "the septre shall not depart from Judah" means that Judah would continue as a distinct tribe until the Messiah came, and that is exactly what happened. After Christ came, the distinction of Judah was lost and it was mixed like all the other tribes. Shiloh is a reference to the Messiah.
Next we come to Micah. He was a prophet to Israel and Judah. More than 700 years before the Angel of the Lord appeared to the Shepherds announcing the birth of the long expected Messiah-Savior Micah reveals the location where the Child was to be born. Micah 5:2 "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting."
Letís move on to Isaiah the prophet. Again, we are at about Seven hundred years before the birth of the long expected Messiah-Savior. Isaiah draws a wonderful prophetic picture of the identity of the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes. Turn first to Isaiah 7:14 "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." We know from Matthew 1:23 that Immanuel means "God with us." Next we come to Isaiah 9:6 "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."
Let me summarize. From Edenís Garden over the hills and valleyís of time, faithful people, Patriarchs, and Prophets shaded their eyes and looked through the misty future, and by faith caught the gleam of that coming day when the Messiah-Redeemer would come. As one old preacher put it Ė "They cheered their battles with its song, shortened their marches with its music and told the world the Desire of the nations (Haggai 2:7) should come." After 400 years of divine silence, one promised so many years before, finally made his appearance. The Infinite at last became finite. The invisible God took on visible human form. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
Galatians 4:4-5 "But when the fulness of the time was come,
God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5
To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive
the adoption of sons."