Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Fresnel Lens

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 60:1-6

Anyone who has been to the Portsmouth seawall, has likely visited the famous Hog Island Fresnel Lens. Those who crafted this particular type of light were able to use much lighter materials and thinner surfaces to produce a more penetrating and far-reaching light.

In recent years, I have encountered many people who wonder at the value of the Old Testament, for which I have always had a special love. To me, it's pages are not only as God-breathed and inspired as the New Testament, but they also present an amazing parade of signs, prophecies, and promises. This parade doesn't end with Santa Clause, but with a baby in a manger.

The Old Testament is a Fresnel lens. As a whole, it's subject matter is heavy, but seen in lighter, more individual layers, it works together to shine a tremendous light. The wisdom of the Old Testament was lighting the way, even when the coming of Christ was as distant as the North Star, twinkling over the winter sky's horizon.

The Star is, perhaps, one of the most iconic symbols of Christmas that we know. The Star of Christmas was first prophesied in Numbers 24:17. In this passage, the evil King Balaak had hired the prophet-for-rent, Balaam, to curse the children of Israel. Four times Balaam tried. Each time God's Spirit overtook him and caused him to offer a blessing instead. The third blessing included this utterance—the first mention of the Star: “I shall see him, but not now. I shall behold him, but not nigh. There shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel.”

The word “star” in this verse comes from the Hebrew “Kowkab” and implies blistering penetration. In its figurative form, it means “Prince.” As truly as the star led the wise men to the Christ child—the Prince of Peace—that same Christ child would bring a blistering penetration to the sinful hearts of men and offer them a cure through His death and resurrection.

This Christmas season, I pray these advent studies will bless your heart and deepen your appreciation for the gift of God's Word, as well as the gift of the Christ child. Our devotions will take us on a journey through the Old Testament. We will begin with the promise of a redeemer, and come finally to the manger, where the promise was kept. Amidst the darkness of the first sins, God provided a light of hope—promising Adam and Eve that they would see Him, though not now; that they would behold Him, though He was not yet near.

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