23 July 2013

Royal child on the way


I just watched another interview. The baby is coming. The news media is interviewing themselves. The Royal watchers are more active than Queensland during State of Origin. When will the baby arrive? And will it be a he or a she? We await the queen's posting, not on a twitter tweat but on an easel inside the gates at Buckingham Palace! The queen announced the baby would be a Leo, not a Cancer, so she got her wish apparently. And the queen hopes to meet the new great grandbaby before Friday when she is off to Balmoral. By the way, the easel is the same as the one used 31 years ago when William was born.

The royal baby is on its way with the Duchess of Cambridge in labour in a London hospital, the palace has announced. And we will know things after the encrypted phone call goes from Paddington's St Mary's hospital to the Queen, then the notice on the easel, then the 64-gun salute and a three-hour ringing of the bells throughout London. No one will miss it. No one will be left out. News will travel and people will know.

Or will they? It seems unlikely that anyone will be ignorant, but my guess is that some will be clueless. Even though the information will be everywhere, some will refuse to know or will decline to care. That's fascinating in itself.

363 kilometres from London is Brussels, Belgium. There they swore in Philippe as its new king on Sunday after his father Albert II abdicated, subduing for a day questions about his ability to bring a divided country together and the power of the monarchy.

Philippe, 53, took his oath in Belgium's three official languages - Dutch, French and German - two-and-a-half weeks after King Albert, 79, announced that he would abdicate after 20 years on the throne.

Kings and queens, royalty in Europe. The news about the news about the breaking news.

It reminds me of the birth of another royal baby. And would people believe the news about the news of that royal birth? Miriam was the mother and Yeshua was the royal baby, but it was so out-of-the-ordinary that it seemed too far-fetched. It was unusual. It was miraculous.

Since that time, nearly two thousand years ago, the story about the birth seems to be so foreign it is as if it is in another language, and not an official language at that. Imagine a Jewish person in Israel hearing this. The carol says it this way, "Once in royal Davids city stood a lowly cattle shed, where a mother laid her Baby in a manger for His bed: Mary was that mother mild, Jesus Christ, her little Child.

He came down to earth from heaven, who is God and Lord of all, and His shelter was a stable, and His cradle was a stall: with the poor, and mean, and lowly, lived on earth our Saviour holy."

Doesn't that sound foreign? Doesn't that sound non-Jewish?

But what if we read it in this language? "The Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel." (Isaiah the prophet wrote that one) That sounds a bit more Jewish but still, the whole virgin/baby thing is right there.

In fact, Isaiah (who wrote about 700 BCE) also said this two chapters later, "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called, 'Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.' " George Frideric Handel certainly used both citations for his famous oratorio 'Messiah.' Some who are familiar with that major work will hear these lyrics and his music and imagine this being sung in a church or concert hall at Christmas. But it's originally sung in Judah, the southern section of what we now title the State of Israel.

Isaiah received his visions in the days of "Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah." It is generally thought the vision of the throne scene which occurred "in the year Uzziah died" (Isa 6:1) was the beginning point of his ministry as a prophet (739 BCE). According to Jewish tradition, Isaiah was executed by Manasseh only a few years after he ascended the throne and that Isaiah was sawn in half with a wooden saw (see Hebrews 11:37). This would mean Isaiah prophesied during a period of approximately fifty years (c739-690 BCE).

But our story is not about Isaiah, but the message of the Royal Child on the way. "He is coming!" the prophet might have shouted. "When?" the people might have asked, and he never acknowledged the answer to that. But his famous, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord" was what to do while you wait. (Yes, Handel used that one also, as did Stephen Schwartz in Godspell (This clip from the movie and the baptism of John). Prepare for His coming. Make straight in the deserts a highway for our God!

So the problem might seem one of language, but it's more than that.

Israel, the nation, had abdicated her right as a missionary nation, choosing rather to live either godlessly among the nations around her, or as a 'holy' people separate from and without instructing those same nations. The Almighty had to send another, her Messiah and Deliverer, to chasten, to teach, to prophesy, to correct Israel. Not everyone liked that message. Not everyone accepted Yeshua as the Messiah.

Not everyone rejected that message either. Many Jewish people said, "Yes" to the Royal Son. Yeshua was born of Miriam, in a stable in Bethlehem in Judah (Israel). No 64-gun salute, only some wandering shepherds who were watching their flocks at night came. Oh and some magi (wise men) from some eastern nations (perhaps modern Iraq or Iran)came over to pay respects as well. Kings honoring a king. That makes sense. We'll see that one in the UK soon enough.

Well-wishers, royal-watchers, uncommitted observers... everyone will hear about William and Kate and their baby. The newborn of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. For most of us, this will have no meaning and even less bearing.

For all of us, what we do with Yeshua, son of Miriam, Saviour of the World and Messiah of Israel, has eternal meaning and bearing.

Who is this Yeshua? Did He really die for our sins and rise from the dead? That's what I believe and a topic for another blog.

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