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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Connections: Norman Arnesen
Dec. 22, 2013

History's Supreme Event

Professor Norman Arnesen (1941-2008) served at Bethany University of the Assemblies of God in Scotts Valley, Calif., and established an educational ministry for pastors and church leaders in South Africa. His New Testament lectures offered students an in-depth look at life in the time of Christ. In 2001, Arnesen spoke with Managing Editor Scott Harrup about the historical context of the Christmas story.

evangel: Describe the world scene into which Jesus was born.

NORMAN ARNESEN: The inter-testamental period was a very devastating time for the Jews. They were under the severe administration of the Romans. They were looking for someone to deliver them from Roman occupation. The religious world of that day was not at its peak for the Jews. The political times were against them. Historically, it is one of the dark periods of Jewish history. They hoped for a political deliverer to free them from Roman bondage, not realizing the spiritual dimension. Politically, economically, religiously, almost every dimension of life caused the Jews and other peoples to anticipate the need for a deliverer.

evangel: In some ways, perhaps, that mirrors the world in turmoil today.

ARNESEN: It does. In many ways, life’s circumstances are more like the first century than at any time between the first century and today. There is economic chaos around the world. There is political instability. Religiously, people have been looking for answers and a sense of direction for the future. In some ways, I believe the events of today are anticipating the second coming of Christ just as world events anticipated His first coming.

evangel: What was life like for Joseph and Mary?

ARNESEN: Joseph was apparently somewhat older than Mary, who was most likely in her teenage years. He would have been more of a mechanical type of person, used to working with slide rules, if you will. She was more the romantic.

Joseph had to deal with perhaps the most unbelievable story ever told. In some ways, he had to have more faith than anyone in the Christmas story. Mary would, of course, know the facts of what happened to her, but Joseph would always have to believe the facts based on what Mary and the angel said. Then, making the journey to Bethlehem was long and difficult with her pregnancy. Going through the birth was difficult in the extreme.

evangel: You wrote an article, “The Trouble With Christmas,” dealing with Herod’s slaughter of the children. How can that narrative fit into the overall picture of God’s love?

ARNESEN: It was the reaction of a wicked king, Herod. It fit in the overall picture as a representation of evil at its worst, with God making a beachhead in this very negative scene to bring forth the Christ child and ultimately, the Easter story. In the midst of Herod’s hatred, God brings forth light. Through the article I wanted to remind people that their view of Christmas as nothing but beautiful scenes was not complete. These were very evil times.

evangel: Christmas is really about Immanuel, “God with us.” What has the Lord done in your life?

ARNESEN: He’s been very faithful. He’s carried me through numbers of illnesses when I was close to death. I feel God still has a purpose for me because He’s brought me back from those difficult times. I was able to teach at Bethany for about 32 years and then spent about seven years training pastors in Africa. I’ve had a very fulfilled life, and the Lord has been very faithful through it all.

evangel: Anything else?

ARNESEN: The Incarnation, the coming of Christ into the world at that time, was the supreme event in all of history. Supreme, when connected with Christ’s death on the cross and His resurrection..

Excerpted from the Dec. 23, 2001, Pentecostal Evangel.


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