People who study history talk about the year 1809 as a bumper crop year for babies who would influence and change the world. 1809 was the year of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, William Gladstone prime minister of England; biologist Charles Darwin; three famous writers, English poet Alfred Lord Tennyson, and American writers Oliver Wendell Holmes and Edgar Allan Poe; two inventors, Louis Braille who invented the braille writing system and Cyrus McCormick who invented the McCormick reaper; and world famous composer Felix Mendelssohn. What a bumper crop year for babies who would influence and change the world. Baby of all babies. This Advent season we have looked at the Bibles own bumper crop of babies. Four babies God used to influence and change the world and more importantly to prepare the world for Jesus. During this Advent season we have seen how babies point us to God’s plans in redemptive history. Isaac showed us our need for a substitute and a sacrifice. Moses delivered God’s people from physical bondage, but we still need a Savior from spiritual bondage. Samuel was a priest who anointed kings, but Jesus would be both priest and King. John prepared the way for a Savior but he was not the Savior. Jesus’ birth is not only the hinge point of history, it changed the destiny of the universe.
We turn this morning from the OT to the NT, and specifically to the Gospel of Jesus Christ as it is told by Dr. Luke. Luke sets out to tell us the story of Jesus. But he does it in a unique way among the four Gospels. He doesn’t start with Jesus’ baptism the way Mark does (and for the most part John). He doesn’t start with Jesus’ birth the way Matthew does. He backs up and starts with the foretelling of the birth of John the Baptist. Why does Luke back up to get a running start at his subject? To understand that you have to understand something about the times. Up to this point there had been 400 years of silence when the voice of God had not been heard in the land. The oldest person alive at this time could not remember a time even in his earliest childhood when a prophet had spoken the Word of God. There had not been proclaimed, “Thus saith the Lord” in four centuries. For a people who had an old book that recorded a thousand years’ worth of prophetic proclamations and words from the Lord, this famine for the Word of God was exceedingly long and exceedingly painful. When heaven is silent people languish and despair.
What child is this? A child is born. What we are noticing in this advent season is at critical moments in God’s salvation plan when God wants to do something really big, really important, He does something really small, a miraculous birth takes place, a child is born who will change the world or prepare the world for something greater. Exodus 1, background. Exodus begins with God’s people suffering. They have been suffering for a very long time, almost 400 years. They are slaves in Egypt suffering under the rule of severe taskmasters. They are abused, oppressed. Exodus 1:11, 13-14 Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. … 13 So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves 14 and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves. Think Jews in Germany under Hitler; Muslims in Myanmar and China, Christians in northern Nigeria. And then to add insult to injury, it gets worse, Pharaoh decrees to kill the Hebrew sons.
Advent means anticipation, expectation, coming, it’s this short season when we prepare for celebrating the coming of Jesus into the world, when we prepare for the coming of the centuries long promise of God to send a Messiah, when we prepare for the fulfilment His redemptive purposes He announced and started way back in the garden of Eden when God said the seed of woman will crush the head of the serpent. The first promise of salvation in the Bible included babies. That promised seed of woman who would crush the head of the serpent comes in the form of babies. The Bible is full of babies, God-sent babies, babies who influenced and changed the world. Out of the mouths of babes and infants God has spoken and shown Himself. This advent season we will reflect on five babies God used to influence or change not just world history, but salvation history and eternity. They are Isaac, Moses, Samuel, John the Baptist and Jesus. These are babies God used to prepare the way to crush the serpent.