On Sabbath we paused at the manger to worship and adore Christ the King. We shared a Christmas Doxolgy—a Christmas song of praise. Our purpose was not to listen to a sermon, or acquire more information, but to bow in wonder at the unspeakable gift of the Word becoming flesh. Because the “sermon” was different, so too will be today’s rewind. Reflect on some of the readings and thoughts we shared last Sabbath.
Before that night in Bethlehem, the Lord had been quiet for four hundred years (the same amount of time Israel had been slaves in Egypt). Try to imagine and feel the void of not hearing a Word from God in four hundred years, while holding onto hope of a coming Messiah. The world is dark. The Prophets are gone. There are no signs to see. Spiritually and morally, it’s silent.
“In the region and shadow of death, men sat unsolaced. With longing eyes they looked for the coming of the Deliverer, when the darkness should be dispelled, and the mystery of the future should be made plain…The deception of sin had reached its height. All the agencies for depraving the souls of men had been put in operation. The Son of God, looking upon the world, beheld suffering and misery. With pity He saw how men had become victims of satanic cruelty. He looked with compassion upon those who were being corrupted, murdered, and lost. They had chosen a ruler who chained them to his car as captives. Bewildered and deceived, they were moving on in gloomy procession toward eternal ruin,—to death in which is no hope of life, toward night to which comes no morning.” (DA 33, 36)
With what longing they waited for Isaiah’s prophecy to be fulfilled “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isa. 7:14) Then, after 400 years, God broke the silence—not with thunder and smoke as He did on Mt. Sinai, but in the cry of a baby, born to temporarily homeless parents.
There was no family chorus to welcome the new baby with singing. They sheltered in a cave with the animals. But God would not have His Son arrive unannounced.
“Men know it not, but the tidings fill heaven with rejoicing. With a deeper and more tender interest the holy beings from the world of light are drawn to the earth. The whole world is brighter for His presence. Above the hills of Bethlehem are gathered an innumerable throng of angels. They wait the signal to declare the glad news to the world. Had the leaders in Israel been true to their trust, they might have shared the joy of heralding the birth of Jesus. But now they are passed by.” (DA, 47)
“Then the joy and glory could no longer be hidden. The whole plain was lighted up with the bright of the hosts of God.” Heaven provided it’s own chorus to sing a doxology for the Christ child. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14)
And notice that praises to God result in blessings to human beings. God is not elevated at the expense of anyone. His elevation raises the condition of those who praise Him. “Glory to God in the highest” is followed immediately by “peace, goodwill toward men!” When the praises go up, the blessings come down. And the blessing that came down that night bringing peace and the favor of God on all men was the babe in the manger.
Take time to contemplate who it was that came to the manger that night. Rewind to Genesis 1:1-3; Psalm 33:6, 9; John 1:1-4, 14. When Mary and Joseph looked upon their son, could they comprehend Who they were looking at?
“It would have been an almost infinite humiliation for the Son of God to take man’s nature, even when Adam stood in his innocence in Eden. But Jesus accepted humanity when the race had been weakened by four thousand years of sin. Like every child of Adam He accepted the results of the working of the great law of heredity. What these results were is shown in the history of His earthly ancestors. He came with such a heredity to share our sorrows and temptations, and to give us the example of a sinless life.
“Satan in heaven had hated Christ for His position in the courts of God. He hated Him the more when he himself was dethroned. He hated Him who pledged Himself to redeem a race of sinners. Yet into the world where Satan claimed dominion God permitted His Son to come, a helpless babe, subject to the weakness of humanity. He permitted Him to meet life’s peril in common with every human soul, to fight the battle as every child of humanity must fight it, at the risk of failure and eternal loss.
“The heart of the human father yearns over his son. He looks into the face of his little child, and trembles at the thought of life’s peril. He longs to shield his dear one from Satan’s power, to hold him back from temptation and conflict. To meet a bitterer conflict and a more fearful risk, God gave His only-begotten Son, that the path of life might be made sure for our little ones. “Herein is love.” Wonder, O heavens! and be astonished, O earth.” (DA, 48, 49)
What child is this? He is Immanuel—God With Us—with us when we weep and when we dance; when we hide from Him and when we hide in Him.
What child is this? He is God with Us in our successes and in our failures; in our highs and our lows. He is with us through the heartbreak of divorce, the loneliness of loss, the darkness of depression, and the pain of regret.
What child is this? He is Light for our darkness, Love for our loneliness, healing for our heartbreak, and the Remover of our regret. He is the Messiah in a manger who came to be the Creator on the cross, dying the death that was ours, so we could live the life that was His. He is the conqueror of the grave and the soon-coming King of kings and Lord of lords. And His name is Jesus.
The long silent night of the soul will soon be over. In the fullness of time The Lord will break the silence again—not with the cry of a baby, but with “…a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” (1 Thess. 4:16, 17)
And the angels won’t have to sing by themselves this time. We will sing the doxology. You know it. Sing it now as you worship the newborn King. –Pastor Randy