So today I have been fighting a brain splitting sinus headache. I get these occasionally and, when they are not warfare (yes, I pray against them as such first), it is hard for me to focus. But today was a bit different. It turns out that God is bring together two separate but related ideas. One from the Old Testament account of the Exodus and one from the Christmas story from Luke and Matthew in the New Testament.
In the Exodus 12 account there is something I hadn’t thought much about before – It wasn’t just the Israelites that were set free from Egypt.
The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Sukkoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. Many other people went up with them, and also large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds. – Exodus 12:37-38
“A foreigner residing among you who wants to celebrate the Lord’s Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land. No uncircumcised male may eat it. The same law applies both to the native-born and to the foreigner residing among you.” – Exodus 12:48-49
The Exodus was for anyone who wanted to follow God. Anyone who believed. Anyone who had faith. The Exodus was for ordinary people.
In the Luke 2 and Matthew 1 account of Jesus’ birth, it was Joseph, an ordinary man with ordinary tax debt, who took his betrothed, Mary, an ordinary woman of ordinary origin, from Nazareth to Bethlehem to fulfill the requirement laid on him by Rome.
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. – Luke 2:1-5
When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. – Matthew 1:24-25
In Luke 2, God chose to announce the birth of his son, Jesus, to the guys tending the sheep in the dark. Ordinary people.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. – Luke 2:8-9
Ordinary people. Going about their ordinary business. Living their ordinary lives.
Ordinary people joined the Hebrews by faith to become the nation of Israel. An ordinary couple, in a very ordinary place, followed God in faith to become “mother and father” of the son of God here on earth.
In the same way, ordinary guys, working the swing shift out in the fields, became witnesses to the birth of the Messiah and went on to tell other ordinary people about what they experienced.
It was to ordinary people that Jesus spoke the words, “Follow me.” Fishermen, a tax collector, a Zealot. Ordinary people. People just like you and me.
During this season when we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, one of the most wonderous and hopeful things is that God both comes for and uses ordinary people to do his magnificent and glorious work in the world.
But we must say yes. We must agree to be the one.
We have a choice and to echo a line from The Chosen (Season 1, Episode 4):
“All your life you’ve been asleep. Make straight the way of the King. He is here to awaken the earth. But some will not want to waken. They are in love with the dark. I wonder which one you’ll be?”
It is ordinary people, just like you, that God chooses and uses. Remember this as you await his return with expectancy.
Merry Christmas and Godspeed!