Basket Cases :: by Gene Lawley

With all the turmoil of the Christmas season, feverish hurry to get those last-minute gifts purchased and in the mail, it’s a wonder that more traffic accidents occur than are reported. And all of that hustle and bustle seems to bring a lot of people to a “basket case” condition. Forget the fact that it is the season to herald the coming of the Prince of Peace, just getting through it all with some measure of stability becomes a reasonably sensible goal.

But there are basket cases that are filled with hope and promise.

Basket cases figure into the story of this season of praise and rejoicing since that time when God looked down upon His chosen people, the Hebrews, who were in bondage to the Egyptian king. They had been there for over four hundred years, counting the time when Joseph first came there as a slave captive, and it was God’s time for deliverance. The new Pharaoh had observed that the Hebrews were very prolific and their numbers were becoming overwhelming, so he issued a dictate that all male children born in that camp were to be killed.

One Hebrew woman did not obey that order, and when her son was born she prepared a waterproof basket, placed her new son in it and turned it loose in the river. (Only an all-knowing God could arrange these details!) The Pharaoh’s daughter, later bathing nearby, discovered the child in the basket, retrieved it and claimed the boy as her own. He was given the name, Moses, and his mother, strangely so, offered herself to the daughter as a willing nursemaid for the baby.

From here you know the story–this basket case became God’s method of deliverance of the Hebrew nation from its bondage and on its way to the Promised Land which God had promised Abraham so long before. Even with its rocky start, God did not pull ahead of them but drew them forward as they were ready to believe and follow His leading.

Moses had to become a mature man, be accepted by the people as their leader, as well as being prepared for the task, himself. That took eighty years of the life of Moses, then close to forty more years with their wandering in the wilderness. When that part was finished, Moses was out of the leadership, and Joshua took over, to cross the Jordan and conquer the inhabitants of the Promised Land.

As it was said of a later Prophet, in the likeness of Moses, the Israelites had to “learn obedience by the things which they suffered.” This whole scenario seems to smack of the journey of faith that a new believer in the gospel of grace, today, enters into when he first accepts Christ and becomes a new creation in Him.

The likeness of this “basket case” scenario to another one years later seems to bear out the testimony of the Scriptures that not only the law of Moses but the whole portrayal of the Israeli history in the Old Testament is a foreshadowing “type” of that future life of faith that would be experienced by those who would believe in a Savior whose Spirit would indwell them and turn their hearts to fully seek the Lord.

This Moses of old was specific in his forward looking prediction of that one who was to come:

“The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear, according to all you desired of the Lord your God….” (Deuteronomy 18:15a).
Enter Now a Second Basket Case

Not unlike Moses, who came out of the bulrushes of the Nile, out of obscurity, there would be one who also would come forth quietly into the stream of human history, bearing hope and promise of freedom from bondage, the bondage of sin and the fear of death. The prophet Micah foretold that event and its location:

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2).

And Isaiah also had foretold of that event about the same time as Micah, saying:

“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” (Isaiah 9:6).

Then, years later, Paul wrote this:

“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).

And when that time was approaching, the angel Gabriel visited a young Hebrew virgin girl named, Mary, who was betrothed to a man named Joseph, and told her of God’s plan. She was to be the mother of the only Son that God, the Father, would ever personally beget. And it would be by a unique working of  the Spirit of God, not in the same physical experience that normal human reproduction is accomplished.

This One was to be the only begotten Son of God! All the way back to the Garden of Eden God had never let the fallen nature of mankind through Adam have any part in His provision of redemption for that fallen human race. And this was certainly not an instance of violation of that premise. Later, Paul would write a statement that clearly expressed God’s mind on the matter:

“Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20).

As a testimony of God’s omnipotence, circumstances came about that an edict was issued by the taxing authorities that all inhabitants had to return to their city of birth to be taxed. Thus, Joseph and Mary returned from Galilee to the city of Bethlehem, where Jesus was to be born. And so it was.

Joseph and Mary returned to Bethlehem, the city of David, their predecessor, to be taxed, and she was heavy with child. It came time for the child’s birth and afterward He was laid in a manger. It was an animal feeding trough, a type of “basket,” would you believe it! God sent that second Prophet, like Moses, to lead His people out of bondage, only they were looking for a king in glorious splendor, not a baby in a “basket” once again.

And just as it was at the time of Moses, the King of Judea issued an executive order. When the Kings of the East arrived about two years after Jesus was born, and asked about seeing the new King of the Jews whose star they had seen, King Herod ordered all boys of two years old and under killed. He feared competition and possibly the wrath of the Caesar in Rome.

But God warned Joseph in a dream, and they escaped to Egypt for safety until the passing of Herod. (Is this a pattern that has since been repeated in the massive killings of innocent children in the womb by abortion, some 55 million now in the United States, that perhaps precedes the coming return of the Lord?)

Later, John wrote this:

“He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:11-13).

The lasting relationship of this Savior with His people was to be totally of God, nothing of the flesh, the physical contributions of the heritage of Adam, that first one who had separated mankind from God in the Garden by his disobedience.

John also wrote of this Living Messenger of God, in that same place, the next verse:

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

I understand that the word “dwelt” in the verse above is from the word “tabernacle” in the Greek and thus, would relate to the Feast of Tabernacles, which portrays His second coming at the end of the age. The standard gestation period for the development of a baby from conception to birth is approximately 280 days.

Therefore, if Jesus had been conceived on December 25, instead of being born on that day, and most people realize it is not known that He was born then, the day of birth would be around the end of September or early October, by any calendar, Gentile or Hebrew. And that is when the Feast of Tabernacles shows up on the annual Hebrew time table. That scenario seems to fit God’s pattern of unfolding His plan of the ages with control and design than one of haphazard inconsistency.

But what difference does it make, you may ask. It’s just that seems to have done things according to an appointed, as He says at times and brings situations forward with pinpointed accuracy. Note the exactness of the unfolding of the first 69 of Daniel’s 70-weeks prophecy (Daniel 9:24-27) and the exactness of the timing of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday and the parallel activities of that Passover celebration. Nevertheless, the fixed date of December 25th serves mankind very well.

His Eternal Purpose Begins to Unfold

Even though He was astounding the priests and scribes in the Temple at twelve years of age, it was not until He was about thirty years old that He came to the Synagogue on a Sabbath, asked for a scroll, and read from Isaiah, this:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me
to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of theLord” (Luke 4:18-19).

Then He closed the book, handed it back, and as the people looked in wonderment, said, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Thus began His public ministry that would bring Him within about three years to a cruel death on a Roman cross between two thieves. Even in His death He drew with Him one of the thieves who had honored Him, saying to the thief, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

It was noted by Paul, who had his own experience of escape from danger in a basket (2 Corinthians 11:32-33), that the wisdom of God is foolishness to mankind (1 Corinthians 1:18, 21), but He began with babes in baskets to reach the world with the good news of the gospel:

“Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength,because of Your enemies, that You may silence the enemy and the avenger” (Psalm 8:2).

It was Peter, that likeable, so human-like disciple, who said:

“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

And one day, at the sound of that name, Jesus Christ, all people everywhere shall proclaim Him LORD:

“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).