Christmas Eve, 2010 could be a pivotal time for America. Nevertheless it is comforting to me when I remember that irrespective of how out of control things seem to be—God is in control—God is sovereign; always.
I think it is fair to say that God is misunderstood by all men, even by the wisest, most learned truly Christian scholar. How can that not be when it is the case of the finite trying to fathom the infinite? That does not yet take into account the fog of sin that further distorts our relationship with the living God; even for true believers. Yet we can know much. In His great wisdom the fog was lifted a bit when He sent His Son who came so long ago:
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent . . . And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:26-33).
Take note, the key prophecies about Jesus are thus:
- He will be great.
- He will be called the Son of the Most High.
- He will be given the throne of David.
- He will reign over the house of Jacob forever.
- His kingdom will never end.
While Gabriel was sent as the messenger to Mary, thousands of years earlier, God sent the Angel of the Lord  to personally deliver a similar prophecy (Genesis 16:11-12) to the servant girl, Hagar. From Hagar came Ishmael. Ishmael’s prophesied accomplishments were, shall we say, singularly diverse to those of Christ. The Angel of the Lord prophesied Ishmael would be a wild donkey of a man, he would fight against everybody and everyone would fight against him.
The question then becomes, why would the preincarnate Christ visit Hagar, a humble servant girl, while a mere angel (although a very important angel) Gabriel was sent to proclaim God’s message to Mary? Indeed, that is the question I asked of Dr. Thomas Howe, Professor of Bible and Biblical Languages and Director of the Apologetics Program at Southern Evangelical Seminary and a scholar in Semitic languages:
[The] reason God appears to Hagar as the Angel of the Lord is because of the parallels with the fall. As God appeared to Adam and Eve in the garden both to curse and to give hope, so God appears to Hagar both to curse—concerning her son . . . and to give hope—“I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count.”
Gabriel appears to Mary because Gabriel seems to be God’s special messenger of God’s kingdom. The name “Gabriel” means “mighty warrior of God,” or “God is a mighty warrior.” Mary will give birth to Messiah who will go to war against evil and will prevail, and by this He will establish God’s kingdom (emphasis mine).
Everything God does is purposed ultimately for our good and His glory. May we all remember this at Christmas and always “that God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son,” a Son “born of a virgin,” not born of man’s sin; a Son that is Christ the Lord who will sit on the Throne of David and rule with God the Father.
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a sanctified New Year.
 According to Allen Ross, “Genesis,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Old Testament, ed. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (Colorado Springs: Chariot Victor Publishing, 1985), 57., “’The Angel of the Lord’ may refer to the theophany of the preincarnate Christ.”
 Recall Hagar was Sarah’s maid-servant who gave birth to Ismael through Abraham.