They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.'” (Matt 2:5-6)
Evangelist Matthew is good at taking us back in time to show us that even before John the Baptist, there were many prophets heralding the Messiah – God’s long term Salvation Plan, a plan that was fulfilled in Jesus Christ’s incarnation. Today’s challenge is about long-term plans again. I am fascinated by large and old things – talk of great old companies – someone must have had a real big long-term plan: Toyota Motor Corporation is a Japanese automotive manufacturer; in March 2014 the multinational corporation consisted of over 330,000 employees worldwide; in July 2012, the company reported the production of its 200-millionth vehicle. Toyota is the world’s first automobile manufacturer to produce more than 10 million vehicles per year. How can one company hold together in stability all over the world while a small country like Somalia or Southern Sudan wallows in social and political turbulence for decades?
Is there any institution more enduring or universal than a family business? Professor William O’Hara posed that rhetorical question in his recent book, Centuries of Success. He also provided his answer: “Before the multinational corporation, there was family business. Before the Industrial Revolution, there was family business. Before the enlightenment of Greece and the empire of Rome, there was family business.” In a world where family values are fast being compromised at the altar of personal gratification, we are in danger of losing the benefits of long-term plans that ride on the back of an enduring family line. Long-lasting (almost everlasting) companies: The oldest running hotel in operation has existed for over 1300 years – since the year 705 – a hot-spring hotel called Nisiyama Onsen Keiunkan in Japan. Japan is home to the world’s oldest lots of things, with more than 3000 companies over 200 years old. Many of the oldest companies are local and family-owned. This longevity must be engrained in big long-term plans.
There are deep spiritual inspirations from all these large and old business fascinations. Matthew in his first chapter brings us generations of God’s long-term plan that is evident in Abraham, David and fulfilled in Jesus many centuries later. The purpose of today’s opening Scripture is to show the connection: The Salvation Plan of God was prophesied by prophets across a wide time-line including Isaiah and Micah over 600 years before they are quoted by Matthew. God’s Salvation Plan endures to date, and as we celebrate the coming of our Redeemer, King, Jesus Christ, we also look forward to His return, and that plan will fully materialize. Watch and pray, and always stand ready.