So the eternal God, Creator of the universe, comes down to earth and gets a sixteen year old girl named Mary pregnant. The boy born of this union, though obviously of God, is scorned by his people as an illegitimate bastard, condemned, tortured, crucified, and buried as a criminal. His heavenly Father raises him from the dead, accepting his death as atonement for the sin of his mother's race, and receives him to his right hand side, from whence He pours out the holy Spirit on all who believe, and from whence He will return one day to reign over all humanity.
Doesn't that sound far fetched to you!
I am a sceptic. And very often, as I go about my life on the Canadian prairies, that story has seemed too far fetched to believe. Leaves, and sunsets, and thunder storms, and the eye of an eagle, make it impossible for me to deny the existence of God, but the incarnation has seemed more like a story book fairy tale.
For a while now, I have been asking God to increase my faith. I want the reality of the incarnation to have as much impact on me as do the realities of day to day life. Better yet, I would like the realities of the incarnation to control or give meaning to the realities of day to day life.
I have just returned from spending eleven days in Israel.
The first full day was the most overwhelming.
While it was yet morning we traveled from near Joppa, (where Peter received his vision declaring Gentiles clean, and from which Jonah fled his call to preach to Gentiles) to Caesarea by the Sea. We gathered in an ancient theater, some of the seats, 2000 years old. Perhaps the very place where the infamous Herod was eaten by worms and died for taking the glory due only to God. (cf. Acts 12:21-23) Our worship leader called us to sing. He had chosen many of my favorites, proclaiming the glory and majesty of God.
I had trouble singing. While we were being led to sing of His grandeur, I was being overwhelmed with His humility.
I am used to connecting with the earth as His creation. And because creation is grand, He can only be more grand. But here for the first time I was connecting with the earth as His dwelling place. This land was the land to which He had given His name. Before Jesus, there was Israel. Here, He had chosen to make Himself known. Here, He had created for Himself a people. Here, He had chosen to make Himself visible, not just in the leaves on the trees, but in the history of His people. Etched into the very ground upon which we walked, are the stories where He went to battle for His people. Places named after Him. Structures built to honor Him. Ruins, where His enemies fought Him and lost, or where His people abandoned Him and suffered the consequence.
In Canada you would need to get rid of creation in order to deny God, but in Israel you would need to erase history in order to deny Him. Everywhere He went, He left a trail.
Everywhere He went, He left a trail!
God became earthy, before He became flesh.
Words fail me. As I sat in the theater at Caesarea, I needed a song about His nearness. About His dwelling on the very soil He created. About His relentless pursuit of relationship. First by attaching Himself to Abraham, then to the Israelites, and then to the land of Israel. Israel foreshadows the body of Christ. It's like God said, “This is who I am, and this is the kind of thing I do, in pursuit of you. I get down and dirty, and come to you on your turf. I want you to know me! Majestic I am, but aloof I am not!”
Into our humble abode He comes.
And His glory shall fill the earth as the waters cover the sea.