Monday, December 28, 2009

Why a Virgin Birth?

I would have posted this on Christmas, but it’s a busy time of the year, so it’s a few days late.
Why did Christ need to be born of a virgin? That’s a question I have wondered about often, and I have a theory.

Obviously, there are the prophecies that necessitate a virgin birth in order to be fulfilled:

  • And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." (Gen 3:15)
  • Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

Then there’s the issue of Joseph’s lineage. According to the prophecy of Jeremiah 22:28-30, there could be no king in Israel who was a descendant of King Jeconiah, and Matthew 1:12 relates that Joseph was from the line of Jeconiah. If Jesus had been sired by Joseph, He would not have been able to claim the legal rights to the throne of David.

However, I believe these issues are secondary to something even more important. I believe God has reasons for the way He does things. And my theory in this case is that the virgin birth is related to God’s innate sense of justice and the issue of iniquity.

According to the Strong’s concordance iniquity is defined as perversity, depravity, or guilt or punishment of iniquity. It is in essence the propensity for evil that was passed on through Adam to us all, as well as the punishment for evil he passed on: “just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12).

In Exodus 34:6-7, God passes before Moses and proclaims, “The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear [the guilty]; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth [generation].” This sentiment is repeated in Ex 20:5, Num 14:18, and Deu 5:9.

Notice how iniquity is passed on to the next generation? The fathers are the one God chooses to use as the progenitors of iniquity. If Christ had been born of an earthly father, He could not have “committed no sin, nor have any deceit found in His mouth”. He would have, by the very nature of being conceived through Joseph, some iniquity or as some might call it, “original sin”.

My son is only two months old, and I already see glimpses of a sinful nature in him. He covets, manipulates, gets angry, etc. It is this original sin that causes some to follow the third century’s initiation of infant baptism for the removal of sin, which could lead to a discussion of “the age of reason,” but that is another topic for another day.

The point is, I think Christ had to be born of a virgin, so that the iniquity of Adam would not be passed on, so that He could be the “pure and spotless” lamb, and so that in His death and resurrection, we might find reconciliation as sons of God. There would be no need for Mary to be immaculately conceived as only the father’s iniquity is passed to subsequent generations.

That’s my theory anyway.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What Was the Tower of Babel?

The tower of Babel is another issue I wonder about, mostly because of something God says.

In Genesis 11: 4-9 we have the account of the tower of Babel: "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to heaven, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth." But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. The Lord said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other." So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel--because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

I have heard that one reason God confused their language was because of their apparent resistance to God's will in populating the earth, but I'm not convinced of this mostly because that's not the reason God gives: "If as one people speaking one language they have begun to this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them."

Apparently, left to their own devices, they would have successfully built the tower, and who knows what else afterward.

In current times as English becomes the common language of science and business, we once again see humanity's capabilities at accomplishing whatever it imagines and building towers everywhere. It is only in the past century with the advent of global colonization and the proliferation of universal languages that humanity has once again been able to push the limits of the heavens with towers, flight, space travel, etc. Pictured is the durj dubai, the tallest building in the world, and it's only half finished. It looks a lot like Babel to me.

An interesting correlation to this speculation on my part. If the tower of Babel with the confusion of language represented God's judgement on humanity's use of a common language, what did the day of Pentecost represent? Once again, God deals with language with the advent of tongues:

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. (Acts 2:4-6)

It seems to me that this advent is as much relational to Babel as Christ's sacrifice was to Adam's sin. A redemption of a common language through the Spirit as it were.

Feel free to comment.


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