GEMS FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT
(First in a Series)
We know that babies are a gift of God and that “children are a heritage from the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Certainly babies can change the way people live. Their gurgles can bring smiles and delight to the crusty and aged. Their cries bring parents running. Their needs affect schedules, spending habits, and sleeping patterns.
The change can go deeper. We might all know of some whose lives were changed religiously, if not spiritually, by a child. Gone were the party days and living unto self. Suddenly responsibility becomes like a reality show—personal and not easily avoided. Concerns deeper than food and drink arise. “What do I teach my child? How do I raise him? I’ve been AWOL from the church; perhaps it’s time to get serious.” Thus lives are changed. We’ve seen it happen.
So it also happened very early in the history of mankind. We are told (Genesis 5:21-22) that Enoch was sixty-five years old when Methuselah was born, and that after that birth, Enoch walked with God for three hundred years. So it would seem that Enoch’s walking with God may have been connected to the birth of his first child.
This is not hard to imagine, for we have witnessed young and somewhat immature parents suddenly grow up. If Enoch at 65 had been spiritually carefree, that was in the past. God had given him a joyful gift, and that heritage changed his life. Whatever his former lifestyle, Enoch now not only believed in the promise of a Savior, but his faith was seen and that faith resulted in holy conduct. A baby did change a life!
And what a baby Methuselah was! It has been suggested that his name means “when he dies, it shall be sent.” We do know from Scripture that Methuselah lived longer on earth than any other person in history (969 years), and that shortly after he died, then came the Great Flood. Jude recorded that Enoch was a prophet who foresaw and warned of a mighty judgment to come. Whenever Enoch saw his son, he was reminded of God’s revelation. He then warned the sinful world of judgment, and calmly and righteously walked with God all the way to Paradise, for Enoch did not experience temporal death. God simply took him to his eternal home and “he was not” (Genesis 5:24).
A baby can change a life!
Traditionally, Epiphany is known as the Gentile Christmas. We celebrate the birth of Christ Jesus and His revelation to us as Savior. What a game-changer, what a life-changer He was and is! For Mary, for the Jewish shepherds, for many of His people, Jesus changed lives. His words and works amazed people. Many believed on Him and were saved.
But Christ was also God’s gift to all mankind, for God so loved the world. His name means Savior, which He is. As a baby eight days old, His blood was shed as He was already beginning to fulfill God’s Law for us. As a man, He died and suffered hell’s anguish to pay for our sins. Has He changed your life? He redeemed you and for His sake God justified you. And His Spirit would so sanctify you that your walk also is
with God—all the way into eternity.
First Jesus came as Savior, and so He is until He comes again as earth’s Judge. No angels singing His glory, no swaddling clothes for Him this second time. Angels in heaven, yes; a trumpet’s mighty sound, yes.
A Judge’s scale in His hand, most certainly. So celebrate that divine-human Gift who has so changed your life by His Spirit. Praise Him for His gracious forgiveness and righteousness. Praise Him as the One who will one day change the mortal into immortality. Indeed, He who was once a Baby has changed and is changing lives and will one day change His whole creation.
David Fuerstenau is pastor of Holy Truth Lutheran Church in Ketchikan, Alaska.