The Great Divide
December 1, 2016

C. R. Oliver

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December 1, 2016

The Great Divide


          The Christmas season causes believers to once again examine some of the most familiar passages in the Bible, those dealing with the birth of Christ as an infant child. These Scriptures are so well known that some aspects of these accounts have been lost in the splendor of angels and shepherds, as well as a star and Magi. But the birth of Jesus, as God coming in the form of man, impacted the universe in a way that was greater than a worldwide earthquake-it brought to close all previous history that took place BC, "Before Christ." It began a thirty-three year transition that would close by marking all future time as AD, "After Death."

I firmly believe the nations have come to another pivotal moment and are standing on the threshold of history that will mark this time as the end of an era and the beginning of The Day of the Lord. Those who review history in five hundred year segments declare, "We are at the end of our 500 year period." Looking at 1516 AD, and the events from that time to this, would give their theory credence. Some set a similar stage using two thousand year approaches (Believing that God gave man a six thousand year lease on His property, and it is divided into three parts which denominate history). They say that we are at the end of the last two thousand year period of grace.

I believe this is why Matthew began with the genealogy of Jesus and summed things up in verse 17. He was pointing out the segments of time and showing how all things are planned and reckoned.

Matthew 1:12-17:
12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jeconiah begot Shealtiel, and Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel. 13 Zerubbabel begot Abiud, Abiud begot Eliakim, and Eliakim begot Azor. 14 Azor begot Zadok, Zadok begot Achim, and Achim begot Eliud. 15 Eliud begot Eleazar, Eleazar begot Matthan, and Matthan begot Jacob. 16 And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.

17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations.

As this is being written a few days before the general election, so as not to be flavored with its outcome, the Spirit reminds me that God's plans override governmental decrees as easily as God renders the decisions of kings as nothing. Nevertheless, it was a governmental decree that brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem. Somehow, a corrupt government, joined by a corrupt religious community, drew upon a time for God to do something spectacular and show Himself strong. Two saints among the profane (Simeon and Anna) were ready for an answer to their prayers. Mind you, government and religion in complicity brought about His death as well, thus causing the beginning of AD.

Angels, Dreams and Signs:

Blending in harmony all three of these information giving instruments, the early writers of the New Testament seemed at ease in citing their place in the drama of Jesus' birth. When any one of these three elements are encountered by the church today, however, the majority act as if the bearer of testimony should be either exalted to position or castigated as needing mental examination. Get Ready. This triumvirate is about to be harmonized again.

Throughout the Old and New Testaments, angels encounter men on many occasions. For example, Jacob wrestled with one after seeing them ascending and descending in a dream. Daniel's prayer brought one down to Babylon and Abraham entertained one. Heaven is not that distant from earth. Simon mysteriously welcomed the guidance to freedom pressed on him by an angel, and Jesus was ministered to by them.

So, Gabriel was dispatched to Zechariah and Mary.


Luke 1:11-15:
Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.

13 But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.

Note: Luke 1:19-20:

19 And the angel answered and said to him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings. 20 But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time."

Of the two hundred, ninety-two times (292x) that angels are mentioned in the Bible, mostly they are used to announce change. Get Ready!

Mary, the mother

Luke 1:26-28
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28 And having come in, the angel said to her, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!"

The initial world announcement came through Angels to the Shepherds on the Judean Hills. They were watching over the flock of sacrificial lambs that were used in the Temple. These sheep were the best specimens of approved animals, without spot or blemish. Shepherding them was an honor. It was to these men of honor that a sacrificial lamb, Shepherded by God, was displayed in heavenly chorus. Isaiah's portrayal of "unto US a child is born," suddenly made sense to them.

Isaiah 9:6-7:
6 For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

They came to Bethlehem and saw their King. They beheld Him, who would be the supreme sacrificial lamb, and they "noised it about." Jerusalem buzzed from their testimony, and surely they reported to the High Priest (for whom they were employed) this new event.

Luke 2:17-20:
17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

          An angel was dispatched to Joseph, for reassurance, in a dream (Some translations cloth angelic visitation in dream form, while others do not). Nonetheless, as we approach the Day of the Lord, look for more use of dreams as vehicles for guidance and information. Already, they are increasing in volume and proliferation. Especially, they are being deployed in countries which suppress religious freedom.

Notice in the verse below, the message came "while he thought."

Matthew 1:18-21:
19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins."

Throughout history, God has spoken to saints and sinners through the frame of dreams. Jacob, Joseph and Nebuchadnezzar are examples of both divisions. The mental states of much of the population of the world today demand an invasive intervention, such as dreams, for God to communicate with both His people and those classed as enemies of the gospel. Already, increasing reports of dreams and visions are coming in. What a wonderful time to be alive and active in the work of the Kingdom.

Joel 2:28-32:
And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
29 And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

30 "And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth:
Blood and fire and pillars of smoke.
31 The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.
32 And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the LORD
Shall be saved.
For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance,
As the LORD has said,
Among the remnant whom the LORD calls.

It was through a dream that Herod's plot was discovered and guidance was given the three wise men (Magi). It was through a dream Joseph was directed to Egypt for safety. These two incidents will be in our focus later in this treatise.


The star guiding the Magi, from the East to Bethlehem, was not just a solar phenomenon; it had special meaning to these men of great wealth. They had prepared gifts for the coming King, and they knew what the religious community of the Jews did not know. Some have said these Potentates were part of the dispersion of the ten tribes and were waiting for a signal from God. Perhaps, they were descendants from those who knew Daniel.

Matthew 2:1-12:
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him." 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
5 So they said to him,
"In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:
6'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
           For out of you shall come a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.'"

7 Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said,
"Go and search carefully for the young Child,
and when you have found Him, bring back word to me,
that I may come and worship Him also."

9 When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
12 Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.

Note please, that the religious community was not moved by the Shepherds' testimony, but let some wealthy guys, with high stature in State arrive-now that got their attention. Notice also, who was called into the strategy session of Herod. Yes, the same group of co-conspirators, who called for the death of Jesus. Talk about being on the wrong side of the equation; it was these guys.

Herod hatched a plan and disguised it with religious zeal. On the surface, he seemed genuinely interested in the Christ child, but often that is the way of religious leadership. Whenever the prelates are called into strategize a situation-look out! Whether it be "pious pontification" or the formation of a solid political front, more than likely it will not be God.

The wise men were to be subtly drawn into the plot by secret meeting and shared information. (Inside information often occasions outside obligation.) They were warned by dream and escaped by stealth. They were not the only ones.

Joseph and Mary, at that very moment, were told to go to Egypt through a dream. This meant that there was little time for preparation and a great demand on faith. Where in Egypt? Who in Egypt?

BUT, they now had the money to make the trip and sustain themselves while there. No, they would not be begging bread, for they could testify that treasures both old and new had been laid up for them.

Matt 2:13-17:
Notice: The Angel appeared in a dream. Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him."

14 When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, 15 and was there until the death of Herod that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, "Out of Egypt I called My Son."

Thwarted Plans:

Herod was furious.

His plan was foiled, and he counted the wise men as deceivers, The view of high clergy may mistake the hand of the Lord as treachery. Man's reasoning fails before the Mighty King and His ways.

Psalms 33:10-12:
10 The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect.
11 The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
The plans of His heart to all generations.
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.

Again in Job, the Lord reveals the dark plans of men and nations and negates them.

Job 12:22-25:
And brings the shadow of death to light.
23 He makes nations great, and destroys them;
He enlarges nations, and guides them.
24 He takes away the understanding of the chiefs of the people of the earth,
And makes them wander in a pathless wilderness.
25 They grope in the dark without light,
And He makes them stagger like a drunken man.

The extermination of children two and under in Bethlehem and the surrounding territories only underscores the wrath of government toward those who are innocent. Herod was a Jew, a Temple attendee and a confidant of the high Priest and local leaders. Although the wise men escaped from the associative judgment on Herod, Jerusalem did not! One is condemned for what one condones.

Matthew 2:16-18:
Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying:

           18 "A voice was heard in Ramah,
           Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning,
           Rachel weeping for her children,
          Refusing to be comforted,
          Because they are no more."

(To this day, there is a statue in Israel of Rachael weeping for her children.)

Herod had to die before it was safe to return to Israel. Unfortunately, the succession by Herod's son to the throne was no comfort. Often this is the ruin of a nation, as perpetuated evil is the hand in the glove of oppression. The same often goes in churches as well.

Luke 2:39:
Now when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child's life are dead." 21 Then he arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel.

22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee. 23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth.

The Holy Spirit:
Angels, Dreams and Signs are not the only instruments God uses. He also uses the still small voice of the Spirit to direct His people. All other methods may fail, but the Spirit never fails, for His people hear His voice. Simeon and Anna are the perfect partners to end this study, while illustrating this truth.

There are a few of the faithful to be found in the congregations and are the remnant of today. Through the morass of Temple life, two saints held tight to righteousness and were rewarded. They both did not want to face death before seeing their Messiah. Oh, there are some today like them! They might be shuffling old men or women, but they hold to a standard the generations have lost. Those who have not bowed the knee might not be the most obvious, but they are there and God knows who and where they reside. Lord, help us meet them as we face the change of history with them.

When Jesus was circumcised in the Temple, the Spirit of the Lord was at work in the hearts of these saints. They may well have been among the precious few who were waiting for His advent.


Luke 2:25-40:
And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. 27 So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, 28 he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:

29 "Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace,
According to Your word;
30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation
31 Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,
32 A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel."

33 And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, "Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against 35(yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."


Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; 37 and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. 38 And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
39 So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. 40 And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him. NKJV

Anna was well over a hundred years old. Do the math: 7+84+16 (16 was common for a bride in those days).

For thirty-three years a transformation from the old covenant to the new covenant was transpiring. It was waiting in the wings for the time when the people of the new era would be endued with power to burst into this new dimension of grace, fresh from Pentecost's upper room. Praise God, we are again on the very cusp of entering a time such as that time. The birth pangs are everywhere to be found as the Prophets and Revelation unfold before our eyes.

Behold, now is the accepted time. This is the day of our salvation. Behold, the Day of the Lord!

Until Next month,

Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.


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