Church family,

Christmas – the earth-shaking, angel-singing, King-arriving, God-steps-into-humanity Biblical Christmas was nothing if not…unexpected. An insignificant carpenter and his young fiancée. A backwater town in the North of Israel. A suddenly scandalous pregnancy. No one was expecting any of this, right? 

Oh, and don’t forget the star.

Surely no one was expecting a miraculous, Christmas star to mark the birthplace of an infant king. Okay, I suppose there were a few wise men from the East who attached significance to the star. But why? Wasn’t the star, ya know, unexpected?

One of the most exhilarating aspects of learning Scripture, for me, is when we uncover yet another connection between the Old Testament prophecies and the New Testament fulfillments.  For instance, one surprise Christmas signpost we might consider is a mercenary-prophet named Balaam. Balaam was a gentile, not a Jew. He was a pagan, not a God-fearer. He once conversed with a donkey (that was definitely unexpected). And he was a generally lousy guy.

You see, Balaam was a prophet-for-hire. His business card offered “supernatural help to the highest bidder.” Balaam was hired by a Moabite king to curse God’s people, but gosh-darn-it, try as he might it just wouldn’t happen. Three times Balaam’s curses got reversed into blessings. As you might expect, this aggravated the monarch who had contracted his assistance. So Balaam explained to the Moabite king that the Israelite God was stronger than he was. And then, in a moment of clarity, Balaam offered this rather – unexpected message: 

The prophecy of Balaam son of Beor, the prophecy of one whose eye sees clearly,   the prophecy of one who hears the words of God, who has knowledge from the Most High:
“I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not near.
A star will come out of Jacob;
a scepter will rise out of Israel.” 
(Numbers 24:16-17)
Church, as we enter another advent season this week, can I ask you – what are you expecting? Family awesomeness? Family strife? A painfully frenetic twenty-five days or another ho-hum December? I've got it in my head that the wise men received such an honored place in history because they knew some Hebrew Scripture, and by faith expected its fulfillment: “ A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.   Much like the wise men, let’s make room for God this month by watching the world around us through the lens of Scripture. Perhaps God will meet us in grace and do something marvelous in our midst. 
And if He does, would it really be all that unexpected?
- Pastor Travis