“Often in the account of salvation history, the future of God’s plan rests with a baby or a child.” (1).
“In Bible history, very often the birth of a baby has made the difference between defeat and victory for God’s people” (2)
In one sense, every baby born represents a new beginning with potential and hope for the future. But sometimes a baby was a major turning point in Bible history.
The first child born on earth, Cain, killed his brother, Able. Cain was exiled, but God sent Adam and Eve another son, Seth.
God had made a historic covenant with Abraham that his descendants would be as many as the dust of the earth (Genesis 13:14-17) or the stars in the sky (Genesis 15:5). In him all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3). But Abraham had no child with Sarah, his wife, for about 25 years after the promise was made. Finally Isaac, the child of promise, was born.
When God’s people were captive in Egypt, Pharaoh demanded that all the Jewish baby boys be killed. But “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict” (Hebrews 11:23). Moses grew up to be the deliverer of his people: God used him to bear witness to Egypt through the plagues, to lead Israel out of Egypt and to the promised land, and to give them God’s law.
In another low point in Israel’s history, when injustice was running rampant, one desperate woman prayed for a child that she promised she would give back to the Lord. God gave her Samuel, who was the pivot between the time of the judges and the kings and who called his people back to worship and serve the one true God.
A bitter woman named Naomi had lost her husband and both sons. Now she was alone with her daughter-in-law, Ruth. But God raised up a godly man to marry Ruth and give Naomi a grandson—a grandson whose grandson would be David, the great king of Israel, a man after God’s own heart.
God had promised that the Messiah would come through David’s line. But wicked queen Athaliah killed all the king’s sons—she thought. Jehosheba, the aunt of little Joash, hid him away with a nurse until he could be made king and carry on the Davidic line.
Malachi ends the Old Testament with a promise that God would “send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers” (4:5-6). Then there were 400 years of silence. And suddenly one day, an old, childless priest was startled by an angel’s visit announcing that he and his aged wife, after many long years of now-abandoned prayers, would have a baby who would “turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared” (Luke 1:16-17).
And then, in yet another low point in the history of God’s people, when they were under the Rome’s rule, “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).
Why did God send His Son to earth as a baby? I don’t know all the reasons. But here are a few:
To be the Son of Man But he took on our flesh that he might be Son of Man as well as the Son of God.
To defeat death. “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery” (Hebrews 2:14-15).
To be made like His brethren (Hebrews 2:17a).
To become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God (Hebrews 2:17b).
To make propitiation for the sins of the people (Hebrews 2:17c), To take our sin and punishment on Himself to atone for our sins.
To help those who are being tempted “because he himself has suffered when tempted” (Hebrews 2:18).
Those things explain why He took on flesh. But why as a baby? Partly so that He could live a whole righteous life in our place. But perhaps Charles Spurgeon is on to another reason when he says, “We might tremble to approach a throne, but we cannot fear to approach a manger. Never could there be a more approachable being than Christ.” (3)
“The greatest forces in the world are not the earthquakes and the thunderbolts. The greatest forces in the world are babies” (4). Especially this baby.
1. Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Distinct (2 Kings & 2 Chronicles): Standing Firmly Against the World’s Tides, p. 224.
2. Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Basic (Genesis 1-11): Believing the Simple Truth of God’s Word, p. 94.
3. Charles Spurgeon, Joy to the World: Daily Readings for Advent.
4. Dr. E. T. Sullivan as quoted in Warren Wiersbe, Be Compassionate (Luke 1-13): Let the World Know That Jesus Cares, p. 26.
Thanks to Dr. Wiersbe for emphasizing God’s use of babies in so many of his commentaries and whose thoughts inspired mine.
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