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Friday, December 20, 2013

Elizabeth and Mary--Part 2

        Since Christmas is right in front of us, I want to finish the teaching on the preceding events leading up to the birth of our precious Savior and Lord Jesus.  The following is "in part," and I will send the rest on the actual birth and the deeper meaning of the swaddling clothes and manger tomorrow.  My teachings can be lengthy because I try to share all that I can to help you see and understand the deeper truths of God's Word and, hopefully, have a greater understanding of His Truths. 

Elizabeth and Mary

      Elizabeth was scorned and reproached because she had no child, but Mary was scorned and reproached because she did! The circumstances of Jesus' conception caused Mary's reproach by others. Mary was the first to carry the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The baby Jesus in Mary's womb will be the Firstborn of God and of the “new creation.” Jesus will have both flesh and the Divine in one body. So will His body of believers on earth.
         Jewish national identity is passed down through the father not the mother. Christ's identity is not in being Jewish but in being the Son of His Father in heaven – the Firstborn of the Father. As I have taught, the seed of man had nothing to do with Jesus' birth. God dwelt with Israel in the womb of Mary and subsequently in the flesh after His birth. Israel must dwell with God through Mary's child.
        Mary is pregnant with God's Word! God wants His Son's followers to also be pregnant (full) with His Word so Jesus is birthed in us and then grows and abides in us abundantly. The Holy Spirit will overshadow us so we become pregnant with the Anointed Word and birth His Body on earth. Mary believed that God would perform His Word sent by His messenger Gabriel. Jesus, the Anointed Word, would enter her body and take on form and flesh until He was birthed in the flesh through her. Mary was just a young teenage girl who loved God. God searched the earth for a heart and womb that was His and would be obedient to His Word and carry His Son into the world. Because Mary was still a virgin, she was an acceptable vessel and prepared to birth the Body of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Bride of Christ who is made righteous by the blood of Jesus is still birthing Jesus in the flesh of others today.
        As I have told you many times, scripture interprets scripture. Revelation 12:1-2, 4-5: A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun (glory and light), with the moon (light of darkness) under her feet and a crown of twelve stars (Divine Government) on her head. She is pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.......The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and His throne. This scripture is about Mary who carried and labored to birth the Son of God, Jesus, on the earth. As soon as Jesus was born, Herod ordered that all children under the age of two be killed. The “dragon” who is Satan worked through Herod to try to destroy Mary's child – the King of kings-- immediately. When Jesus died on the cross, He was snatched up to God in the resurrection. The matured Bride of Christ clothed in glory and light with Satan under her feet and the crown of Divine Government on her head is laboring and suffering to carry and birth Jesus into the world now.  The mature Bride of Christ will defeat the devil who wants to devour anyone she brings to Jesus and abort God's plan for their lives. But God is with her as He was with Elizabeth and Mary. The devil cannot defeat God's faithful ones and God's plan.
          Only Elizabeth and Mary knew God's plan for the babies in their wombs. God way back in Genesis said that the seed of the woman would defeat the serpent. God is about to fulfill this prophecy through the child in Mary's womb. Throughout the years, Jewish women wanted to be the woman chosen to birth the Messiah. This would be a great honor and privilege. Mary was hand-chosen by God for this honor. Mary was chosen because she was a virgin, full of faith in God, humble, willing and obedient. She will give birth to the Son of God. Mary offers herself, body soul and spirit to her Lord so she can give birth to something holy. God wants believers in His Son to also offer ourselves body, soul and spirit so Jesus can be birthed in us and through us to others. In the womb of Mary is the One who will show God's love and passion for all – both Jews and Gentiles (all others).
          The Bride of Christ made up of both Jews and Gentiles is also chosen and privileged to share Jesus with the world. We are to offer ourselves, body, soul and spirit to God in purity, humility, willingness and obedience so He can birth the holy Jesus in and through us. Christ's Bride must understand the honor and privilege this carries and bring honor to Jesus by our behavior, words and deeds. We are the witness of His holiness and life before others. His Body is all He has to work through now that He is in His Heavenly dwelling place. The One who is Creator of heaven and earth limits Himself to our flesh to reach the world. What an honor and privilege Jesus gives us even in our weak and compromised state. Jesus' physical body is no longer on earth, so we are His laborers who are birthing new life into others by His life in us. Jesus shed His flesh body at the cross. We are now His flesh Body! God is calling believers into the Body of Christ on earth now and preparing them as a Bride prepared for her Husband. The Bride of Christ, like Mary, is to be pure, humble, faith-filled, obedient, and submitted to Christ as we call others into His arms of salvation and birth and mature the Body of Christ on earth.
          Mary's son will be both a blessing and joy to her, but she will also suffer for His sake. He will pierce her heart as she watches His horrible beating, suffering and death on the cross. The Bride of Christ will also have great blessing and joy from Jesus, but will also suffer at times for His sake and cause -- some even to death..
          Elizabeth's prophesy over Mary about the Lord's favor and the new birth brought a song of praise and joy out of Mary. Mary sang a new song about the virtues of God. God had used Mary's humility, innocence, faith and obedience to bring the Messiah and Redeemer into the world in fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant. God calls His Bride to do the same on the earth today. He wants those who are humble, innocent, faith-filled, willing and obedient to Him to bring Jesus, the Messiah and Redeemer, to others in the world.
          Mary's song is similar to Hannah's in the Older Testament. (see 1 Samuel 2:1-10)

Mary's Song

       “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. v46-47 Mary called God her Savior for He has been mindful of her humble state. Mary saw herself as a humble maidservant of the Lord. She recognized God's holiness and might next to her weakness and lack. She gave all glory, honor and praise to God for His goodness. Mary knew that she needed a Savior as well as Israel..
       “for He has been mindful of the humble state of his maidservant. V48 A bondslave or maidservant was of a lower class. She would be owned by her master and willing to do what is required of her. God knew Mary would submit based on her background. God will do a miraculous thing through this humble maidservant.
        “From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is His Name. V49  The work God did through Mary is still being read in the holy scriptures from generation to generation. Mary gave all of the glory to God.
       “His mercy extends to those who fear Him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. Vv50-52  God casts down the prideful and exalts the humble.
       “He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. Mary is a humble maidservant. She exalts God for His blessings extended to her. God takes care of the humble and the poor.
“He has helped His servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as He said to our forefathers.” vv 54-55 God has not forgotten Israel even though they are in disobedience and sin, and He has not forgotten His covenant with Abraham and his descendants. God is Faithful and True to His Word even when we are unfaithful.
         Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months. These two women knew what God was doing miraculously. No doubt the two women were supporting and encouraging one another as they were carrying out God's plan through their two sons.

Birth of John the Baptist

        At the appointed time, Elizabeth gave birth to John the Baptist. Her neighbors and relatives shared in her joy. God has been merciful to Elizabeth. On the eighth day, they brought John to the temple to be circumcised and named. It was the custom that the firstborn child would be named after his father, but Elizabeth said his name would be John. Their neighbors and relatives questioned her decision. “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.” v6 Then they went to Zechariah to find out what he would like to name the child. Zechariah asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” Both Elizabeth and Zechariah were in agreement and obeyed the Lord. As soon as Zechariah obeyed God, his voice was returned and he began to praise God and prophesy. He praised God for redeeming His people and sending the “horn of salvation” (Jesus) to save them from their enemies, show mercy and enable His people to serve Him “without fear in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.”
         After praising and thanking God first, Zechariah then prophesied about his child John the Baptist. He said that John would go before the Lord “to prepare the way for Him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins” because of God's great mercy. Every child of God must aim at living a life of holiness and righteousness in this evil world, Our lives are “before Him,” so we must strive to live a life that is pleasing to Him. Jesus Himself said, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
        Zechariah's prophetic song also said that the Lord will give His people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of sin, and will guide their feet into the path of peace. John fulfilled this prophecy of his father. He called people to confession and repentance and then pointed them to Jesus for salvation and forgiveness of sin, and peace in Him.

Mary and Joseph

         Both Joseph and Mary were from the royal line of David. In spite of their ancestry, they were poor because they brought the sacrifice of the poor – two turtledoves – to the temple for sacrifice when Jesus was dedicated to the Lord. (see Luke 2: 24)   Jesus had to do all of the requirements of the Law in order to fulfill it perfectly and completely.
       Mary and Joseph are betrothed. The marriage would take place 12 months later. In biblical times, betrothal was as binding as marriage. They are promised to each other and will not have intercourse until the marriage takes place.  Both parties were to remain faithful to each other during this betrothal period. The husband would be preparing a place for them to live. Our relationship with Jesus is like this relationship between Joseph and Mary, At the present time, we are betrothed to Him until He comes to take us home to the wedding and heavenly place He is preparing for us. In the meantime, Jesus wants us to remain faithful to Him as He is faithful to us. In view of this, Mary becoming pregnant would seemingly mean that she was unfaithful and, therefore, broke the oath that Mary and Joseph had made with each other.
          The angel Gabriel has spoken God's plan to Mary. The virgin birth is the fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14. He must also tell Joseph His plan so Joseph will not desert or divorce Mary. God told Mary first because He had to see if Mary would submit to His Word and Will. Mary said, “Be it according to Your Word.” Mary submitted to God and His Word. God looks for those who will say “yes” to His Word and Will and do it.
          God must now inform Joseph because Joseph was going to divorce Mary when he learned she was pregnant. The Bible says that Joseph was a righteous man. The Law said that an adulterer and adulteress should be stoned to death, but Joseph had a different heart and spirit. He didn't want to judge and condemn her or expose her to public disgrace. Instead, he planned on divorcing Mary quietly.. An angel of the Lord will come to speak to Joseph in a dream to assure him that Mary's pregnancy is an act of God. Matthew 1:20-23: But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel – which means, “God with us.”   Isaiah 7:14
           God's angel knew that Joseph was a son of David, so Joseph was comforted and prepared to hear this angel's message. The name of Mary's child is to be Jesus. The Hebrew word for Jesus is Jehoshua or Jeshua/Yeshua which mean “Savior.” Jesus will save them from their sins. He will be God with them—walking and talking with them on earth as God walked and talked with the first Man in the Garden of Eden. Jesus' first coming as Savior will be the basis of all of the rest of His works, spiritual offices and purposes. Salvation is first!    God sent His Son – Word of God into the womb of Mary. He left the place that has no limitations to limit Himself in a flesh body for all of humanity. Humanity can also limit Jesus by not allowing His transformation into His image and likeness. Without Him, we are powerless.
          Because Joseph said “yes” to the Word of the Lord through Gabriel, he saved Mary from shame and disgrace and married her. This is what Jesus did for us. He said “yes” to His Heavenly Father and died on the cross for our sin to remove our shame and disgrace so we could become His Bride. We too must not expose the sin of our brothers and sisters in the Lord to others bringing shame and disgrace to them. We must cover them with prayer.
          Jesus was born during the Feast of Tabernacles and will return at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles to fulfill it. Jesus fulfilled the first four of the feasts at their exact time and hour--Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits and Pentecost. He has to fulfill the last three at the exact day, time and hour--Trumpets, Atonement and Tabernacles. Jesus has partially fulfilled these last three.  He came as the Word of God in the flesh and has been sounding His Word (trumpet) for over 2,000 years.  He suffered and died in the flesh on the cross to atone for the sin of the world (Atonement).  He tabernacled with men for 33 1/2 years (Tabernacles).  He will come again to complete all and bring God's creation back to its original condition in Genesis.  The Word of God (Jesus) in the beginning is the Word of God in the end and for all eternity. Jesus came the first time as the tabernacle of God who is now with mankind, and He will come to earth once again to tabernacle with mankind during the millennium. As we await His coming, Jesus is dwelling with man through His followers. We are His flesh that He will work through. We must submit to His Word and His will so His light and glory shines forth through us to a world that is in darkness.
          Mary carried the prophetic Word in her until He was birthed through her. She was the carrier of the Word and glory of God – Jesus. Christians are also to be the carriers of the prophetic Word and glory of God  (Jesus) until He is birthed in us and shines forth to others.  

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