It is at this time of the year that many are reminded of the events of 2000 years ago, when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea to be the King of the Jews.
For many this extraordinary birth was no more than a convenient opportunity to create another holiday season. They are motivated by the joy of good will and festive celebration. For them, it is a wonderful time for family and friends to renew their ties.
It matters little that December 25th is a very unlikely date for the actual birth of out Savior, and many consider that the month of September would have been a more accurate choice.
The fact is that Jesus was born in very humble circumstances. His birth fulfilled the hopes of the servants of God who had waited for thousands of years for the descendent of the woman who would come into the world to redeem man from the consequences of sin and the sentence of death.
Wise men journeyed from the East to bring presents to the new born King. They understood the writings of the Hebrew prophets, and they saw the bright star in the heavens as a sign that the time was at hand.
Shepherds who were keeping watch over their flocks at night were overwhelmed by the brightness of a host of angels, who announced the birth of the Savior to them.
" Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." ( Luke 2: 10-11)
We can only imagine the joy of those who were the first to be told that this great event had finally happened.
Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and fulfilled his mission to teach the gospel of the coming Kingdom of God. He offered himself in sacrifice for the sins of mankind. Through the power of God he was raised from the dead on the 3rd day. ( see 1 Cor. 15:3-4 )
Today, we wait and long for another great event. This time we look for his return to this earth to establish the Kingdom, and to finally fill this earth with peace and good will among men.
We rejoice in this hope, and so enjoy this seasonal reminder of the birth of our coming King. Our joy is not in the festive time of cheer, but in an appreciation for the real purpose for the miraculous birth of the King of Kings.
It really matters very little what the actual date of the birth of Christ was. The important thing is that he was born, and that his life was intended for some very special things.
His role as the "lamb of God" to take away the sin of the world is most significant, for without the voluntary shedding of his blood, there would be no way for victory over death and a hope of the resurrection.
The prophet Isaiah, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, spoke many words about the mission of Christ. The following words are typical of the beautiful expressions that describe the exalted purpose of this very special child that would be born:
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this." ( Isa 9: 6-7)
Significant in this prophecy is the word government. Jesus was destined to bear on his shoulders the burden of government for Israel and for all people. Of the increase of his government there would be no end.
We understand this to be consistent with many other prophecies that all indicate that this special son would be the King of Kings, the ruler of the whole earth.
From his humble beginning in a stable, Jesus was destined to rule on the throne of David. His throne would be established in Jerusalem in the latter days, when that city will be the "city of the great King" and the entire earth will be filled with the glory of God. This righteous King will bring both judgment and justice to the earth.
Isaiah's prophecy will surely be fulfilled. God himself will bring it to pass. The power of God will establish this great King in his rightful place as the ruler of the entire world.
Christ, the son of God will be the Prince of Peace He will rule using the power of God, without limitation, to abolish war and to bring peace on earth
When we listen to the songs and carols during this holiday season, let us reflect on the real meaning behind the words. These are not just empty words or simple music for the ear. Many of the words and phrases were actually based on the hope that is expressed in God's word.
The birth of Jesus, our savior, is not just a fairy tale that sounds good at a certain time of the year. This was a real event. This was one of the most important events in the entire history of the world.
The Lord Jesus Christ was not just a man that lived and taught and died as a martyr for a new faith in the first century AD. He was the Son of God, He was a child born, a son given, for a very specific purpose.
He was born to be a King, not just any king, but the "King of Kings."
When we think about this man during this season, let us remember that he is now sitting on the right hand of God. He is coming again, to establish a righteous government on this earth. In that day there will truly be "peace on earth and good will among men."
There are many and varied opinions concerning the observance of such holidays as Christmas, Easter, Halloween and others.
Some understand fully the origin of these feast days and recognize that they are rooted in Paganism, not in the Bible.
Some feel that these are Christian holy days and observe them as such. Still others see them simply as a secular holiday, a convenient excuse for a day off from work.
There is no question about the fact that these celebrations were of Pagan origin. It was common strategy for the Christian churches to enhance their conversion numbers by offering a religion that still allowed identification with the old ways.
The Christmas Holiday was originally the winter solstice, a holiday that was already being observed by the Pagans. Such compromises by Christians who were already far astray from the teachings of the Apostles, further corrupted the Christian faith.
In the midst of all of the confusion that has been promoted in the name of Christ, there is still Truth in the earth, and there remains a small number of the servants of God who try very hard to maintain teachings and practice that is consistent with the Bible message.
The holiday season can create difficult choices for the faithful servants. Where do we stand in a "Christian" world, that is so far astray? What should our approach be to the festivities of the season?
We can be thankful that the Apostle Paul addressed some of these issues that are not clearly defined commandments. The quotation above is from the 14th chapter of Romans. It provides us with some very useful principles that can guide us through the gray areas of this season.
As we consider Paul's message, we realize that he covered many of the typical questions that we encounter in our struggle to live a life that will bring glory to God.
His message addressed the eating of meats, including those which may have been connected with idol worship. He also talked about meats and drinks, and the observance of days.
Some individuals ate, drank and observed, while others abstained. He instructed us to refrain from judging others in their practice.
How is it that two individuals could be on the opposite end of the same issue and both be acceptable to God? (conversely, both individuals could also be wrong).
Faith is the key. Our practice must be consistent with our belief. If we are fully convinced in our mind that what we are doing, allowing, ( or abstaining from) is acceptable in the sight of God and if we act in faith, then God may honor that commitment. Paul concludes his presentation with these important words: " So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin." (v. 22-23 NIV)
how still we see thee lie...
"But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel." ( Micah 5:2)
When we consider the prominence that the birth of the Messiah has in the prophetic writings of the Old Testament, we begin to appreciate how significant this event really was.
The first prophecy of his birth was revealed in Genesis 3: 15, where the serpent was told that a descendent of the woman would destroy forever, the influence of the sin that had resulted from his temptation of Eve.
Jesus was the promised descendent of Abraham that would bless all nations. We read the evidence of this intended connection in Galatians 3:16.
King David was promised a son that would build a house for the name of God and reign on his throne forever. Mary was told that this greater son of David, who would reign over Israel forever, was the child that she was about to bear. ( see Luke 1: 31-33 )
Isaiah had prophesied 700 years before the birth of Christ that: "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." ( Isa 7:14 NIV)
Isaiah's prophesy revealed the unusual circumstances of the birth of Jesus. He would be born unlike any other child. Mary became pregnant through the power of God. She was a virgin in every sense of the word and had not known a man. Her conception was a miracle and she gave birth to the only begotten son of God.
When God promised David a son to rule on his throne forever, He specifically stated that the child would be God's son. We read this prophecy to David in 2 Samuel 7: 12-15:
"And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: But my mercy shall not depart away from him."
So it was that this child was to be born in the city of David, and the announcement of his birth was considered to be "good tidings of great joy unto all people."
This newborn babe was to become our Savior, Christ the Lord.