In light of the Christmas Season, I decided to help feed my hunger for the bible by adding an online class on the Life and Teachings of Christ to my daily bible reading. I love God’s word, I think it’s transformative, and life giving. Every time I study my bible, I come away loving Christ more, and hopefully being shaped more in His likeness.
During my studies, I have been overly impressed and overwhelmed by the amount of planning, and the years of events that lead up to the birth of Christ. Often, as a Christian who’s grown up in the Church and who’s heard the “Good News” preached more times than can be counted, I tend to gloss over the importance, over the significance of Christ, coming to earth as a man.
I love to learn how God carefully orchestrates times, events, and people. One person in the course of History particularly, has caught my attention and has spurred my efforts to learn more about the time leading up to Christ… Alexander the Great. Alexander, son of Philip of Macedon, took over his father’s kingdom at the age of 20 and became widely known as an excellent military leader. 333 BC, Alexander defeated the Persian Empire (along with most of the world at the time to the Greeks, including Israel and Judah), and set out to fulfill his dream of spreading Greek culture to the world (Hellenization).
Upon the death of Alexander, his kingdom was divided among his 4 generals and eventually conquered by Antiochus around 175 BC, setting off a myriad of events including the forcing of the Jews to accept Jewish language, culture, and gods, the desolation of Jerusalem’s city wall, and the plundering of the temple in Jerusalem, which was transformed into a shrine for Zeus.
The events set into motion by Antiochus enraged the Jews and spurred on the Maccabean Revolt. The Revolt, led by the 5 Maccabees brothers, ushered the Jews into a period of freedom. It was during this time, the Jews rejected foreign gods for good, while doing their best to follow the laws of God. It was during this time the Pharisees emerged.
In 63 BC, Jerusalem was conquered by Rome. The Romans unified the Mediterranian world, and ushered in a Season of law, order and peace. It was during this era the Romans adopted Greek as their common language, the Old Testament was translated from Hebrew to Greek (the Septuagint), and a complex system of roads were built.
All these events, perfectly orchestrated together, helped pave the road for the Christ. Through the short 400 years of the Intertestament, the culture, language and paradigms of the people changed drastically. This made it possible for Jews and Gentiles alike to read and hear, and respond to the Word of God.
I love it! I love how little this period of time is thought about, yet how large a part it played in the preparation of the coming of Christ. It helps me realize how deep, and wide, and extravagant and real the Love of Christ for us really is. Not only did he come as a helpless baby, dependent upon man, grow up on earth, surrounded by sin, and then be the subject of our mockery, and crucified on a cross with sinners in his underwear, just to have relationship with us forever; He actually planned it for years and years… How great is that?
To me, the Love of Christ will always be unfathomable. Although I don’t understand it, I still choose to pursue it. I want to know, and be known by the all encompassing, extravagant, century planning Love of my God, and in turn, go and Love others in the same light. Jesus has chosen to take years to display his incredible Love for me… so, in turn, I choose to give him back all mine learning to display my love to him.