Monday, December 23, 2019

Behold, The Savior Is Come

The "Christmas Story" is one of the most remembered and by far the most told of any other story in human history. Not only does this story reveal the birth of Christ the Lord, but a closer look reveals the movement of creation itself in bringing forth the Savior. It is the Gospel according to Matthew and Luke that uncover the events of the "Christmas Story." So as we look at these events, we will see the infinite wisdom and love of God at work in human history for only one reason, "to open their (humanity) eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.'  (Acts 26:18)

In Luke 1:5-25 we see a priest named Zacharias chosen to minister before the Lord in the temple in the form of burning incenses. His wife's name was Elizabeth and they were both descendants of Aaron, Moses' brother and first High Priest chosen by God. (Exodus 4:14, 28:1) Zacharias was a praying man and his prayers were heard. The angel of the Lord, Gabriel, was sent to give him the good news concerning what was about to break forth into human history. However, we see that Zacharias first response was doubt. Like Zacharias, we too can get so caught up in doing our regimented Christians duties or building our own personal kingdoms, that we miss what God is about to do. Then when God reveals to us His plan we again like Zacharias do not believe. I believe that most Christians today struggle with a lack of faith for the very same reason. They pray, look for God, but when He reveals Himself doubt enters and they forget the very things that they were praying for. Although, Zacharias doubted God's Word, what the angel had spoken still came to pass.

Next, Luke 1:26-38 records another miraculous event happening. The same angel, Gabriel, appears to a virgin woman whose name is Mary who was betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph. He reveals that she is “highly favored" by God and "blessed among women" and that it would be Mary who would be used by God to bring forth the One who would be the Deliverer. Mary questions Gabriel, but his answer should cause believers to see God for who He really is, "For with God nothing will be impossible." This is an important key to having prayer answered as well as living a victorious life. Jesus says it this way, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes." (Mark 9:23) Not only are all things possible with God but all thing are possible to all who exercises faith. and simply believe. It is very apparent that Mary believed Gabriel's report, "Then Mary said, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her." 

 Although we see Mary exercising faith for the impossible, we see a different picture with Joseph, her betrothed. Again, we see doubt take the place of faith. (Matthew 1:19) However, we do see an angel of the Lord appear to Joseph in a dream explaining the situation to him, which caused Joseph to respond to what the angel had spoken. (Matthew 1:20-25) You may be thinking, "Well getting the news that your wife is with child and you have had nothing to do with it certainly would cause one to doubt." This may be somewhat true, but remember Zacharias had a visitation of an angel of the Lord but he still doubted. Also, Matthew records that Joseph was a "just man" which means, "justly, righteously, in accordance with what is right."

So, we have to assume that for Joseph to have this type of character, that he attended synagogue and or was versed in the the scriptures. If so he had available to him what was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel." (Isaiah 7:14) But isn't that the problem that the children of God have struggled with then and still struggle with today? For most believers, although we have the Word of God recorded in what we call the Holy Bible, many still chose to look at the circumstances in the natural like Zacharias and Joseph and entertain doubt rather than faith in a faithful God, "that what He has promised He is also able to perform." (Romans 4:21) Although it appears that Joseph had some doubts, he still responded to the command of the angel to take Mary as his wife.

These wonderful events continue to unfold. Luke 2:1-7, which records, not even Caesar Augustus the top official of the human government at that time could do anything more than to bring the prophetic Word of God spoken 700 years prior through Micah to pass, "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) Joseph following the orders of the government, made his way with Mary to the very town where Christ was to be born, Bethlehem.

Finally, Luke 2:8-20 shows us the culmination of the events of the birth of Christ. Again, an angel of the Lord appears. This time to "shepherds living out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night." It is recorded that the"angel stood before them and the glory of the Lord shown around them" and the angel reported the most tremendous event to date in the history of humanity, "For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger." Once the angel gave this report "suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" Not only were the people of the earth moved to be participants in the ingenious plan of God (whether they knew it or not) but even the angels of God rejoiced. Think about that. The angels of God who are spirit beings were excited for humanity that now the plan of God was manifested for the salvation of humanity. Deity and humanity has now come together as Jesus Christ the Lord.

We all should see Christmas as a time for great rejoicing. A new birth in our love towards God and toward one another. A new birth in dedicating our lives to His service. Christmas not New Years should be a catalyst for change, hope and increased faith. A great expectation of what God can and will do through those who believe. For some, maybe we need to see Christmas through the eyes of three wealthy wise men who left their nation and traveled a great distance to behold an infant King. Three men who apparently exercised faith having only the knowledge of ancient writings and a star that guided their way. Christmas is not just about a baby in a manger, it's about the complete redemption of humanity. We should celebrate Christmas as one of the two greatest moves of God in human history. That baby, the Christ, had come into the world to save humanity from Satan's power, to reconcile God to man and man to God and to give humanity "life and to have it more abundantly." (John 10:10) Have a wonderful and very "MERRY CHRISTMAS."

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