THE WORLD SETTING AT THE TIME OF
THE BIRTH OF JESUS CHRST
THE BIRTH OF JESUS CHRST
Let us look at the world setting at that time. Rome is Mistress of the world. The gates of the temple of the heathen God Janus—are closed for the third time in the 750 odd years of Rome's existence. These gates were opened in times of war and closed in times of peace. It then was a time of peace, with Augustus Caesar as Emperor. Wise men from the East break in suddenly upon the Roman scene with the question, "Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him"—the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) born in this time of Roman world peace. Also a fiery evangel appears in the wilderness of Judea preaching "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Some time later the world's greatest Evangel appears, using the same text as above. What does this world situation mean? This—that God in His Work Program has inaugurated the beginning of the third promise to Abraham of a blessing and to be a blessing. This, of course, would be brought about through the birth, coming, ministry and complete work of the world's Redeemer—Jesus Christ—the second evangel who used the text "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
The Jews Reject a Golden OpportunityWhat will the descendants of Abraham—now called Jews—do with this golden opportunity to receive this third promise and pass it on to this Roman world situation? God lets his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, give the Jewish leaders and nation three years of divine teaching, ministry and works to see. At its end they reject and crucify their Messiah in His coming in humility as a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief—His First Coming, saying, "His blood be on us, and on our children" (Matthew 27:25). This rejection of their Messiah suspends again mainly Gods Four Promises to Abraham. In about forty years (70 A.D.) the Romans destroy their Holy City—Jerusalem—their Herod's Temple, and scatter them over the Empire. They lose Promise One and so no nation. They lose Promise Two and no longer any land. The called-out ones, the church, born at their Pentecostal Feast with 120 Jewish members, accepted the Third Promise and preached its benefits to Jew and Gentile individually over the Roman world. The kingdom of heaven, preached by John the Baptist and Jesus was postponed and the Church Age came in.
With this national rejection of this third promise great economic loss came upon the Holy Land to continue for centuries. When Joshua parcelled out the land to the twelve tribes of Israel it was a land flowing with milk and honey with no danger of a depression. The absence of that danger was to be conditioned on the obedience of the Israelites. If they obeyed God the Holy Land would be blessed by its great Care-Taker, Whose eyes were constantly upon this land, and it would yield abundantly (Leviticus 26:3-13 and Deuteronomy 28:1-14) to them. If they disobeyed, God's curse would come upon them and also upon the land. It would finally become a desolation. The Israelites and the land go together. It seems this land will not yield for other peoples. This might account mainly for poor Arab farming. It has been said that with Israel obedient and in the land, world affairs are prosperous and with Israel disobedient and out of this land, world affairs are troubled. As they failed in obedience the land became desolate for centuries under God's promised curses (Leviticus 26:16-46 and Deuteronomy 28:15-68). Such was the Holy Land's condition 100 years ago when Abraham Lincoln was elected sixteenth President of the United States. Such it was when I was born in 1883. Let us see somewhat how far the world has come and how far God has come in the renewal of His work on the Four Promises to Abraham, in the lives of some of us older ones and thereby raise a reasonable inference as to how near we are to the coming, the Second Time, of the Jewish Messiah, Jesus Christ, as part of these Abrahamic Promises. Our fourth major point is: How Far Has God Progressed With This Program?