THE PEOPLE WHO MADE CHRISTMAS POSSIBLE!
400 YEARS OF NOT HAVING PROPHETIC VOICE: FULLNESS OF TIME
For over 400 yeaars since the time of Malachi, there had been no prophetic voice in Israel. It appeared that God was silent, and from the earth’s point of view, it might have seemed that God had forgotten His people and given up on the world.
How different things looked from heaven’s perspective. Preparations for Jesus’ birth, which had been going on for centuries, were now complete; the fullness of time had come. Everything was ready, and God was beginning to move. There was excitement in heaven and stirrings on earth.
God had been at work in the affairs of nations. He had raised up the Persian Empire under which the Jews were allowed to return to Palestine to rebuild the Temple and reestablish the nation.
The Greeks had followed on the heels of the Persians under Alexander the Great and, as a result, two great movements important to the spread of the gospel took place. Because of his favorable attitude toward the Jews, they were dispersed throughout his empire. Also, he spread Greek culture and established the Greek language throughout his empire.
When the Greeks faded from the scene, the Romans stepped to the fore and at the time of Christ’s birth, the Roman Empire was well established throughout the world; consequently, there was relative peace and ease of travel.
PEOPLE GOD CHOSE TO PLAY A PART
When it was time for Jesus to be born, God put into Caesar’s heart to decree that all the world should be taxed. However, before God’s plan could be carried out, He needed to find people – individuals who would be part of what He was about to do. “The eyes of the Lord ran to and fro…” throughout the land looking for such people, and when He found them, the curtain was raised and the final act – the coming of Jesus – began.
We don’t know a great deal about the people God chose to play a part in the entrance of His Son into the world. In many ways they were different. There was an engaged couple, a group of shepherds, a devout old man, a widowed prophetess and wisemen from another nation. In spite of their differences, they had at least three things in common – three things I believe that all who belong to God and are used by Him have in common.
GOD SPOKE TO THEM IN DIFFERENT WAYS ABOUT HIS SON'S COMING
They all heard the Word of God. God had spoken to them in different ways: through angels, through a star and by the Holy Spirit. He told each of them something different about Jesus’ birth.
God spoke to Mary a word of Annunciation. He told her she had been chosen and that she would conceive His Son.
God spoke to Joseph and gave him a word of Explanation. He told him why Mary was pregnant, what the baby’s name was to be and why He was to be born.
To the shepherds God spoke a word of Jubilation, telling them of the great event that was taking place in Bethlehem.
To Simeon and Anna He spoke a word of Confirmation. That which they had longed to see was now fulfilled before their eyes.
To the wisemen God spoke of a Coronation. They had found the one who was born to be king.
THEY HEARD AND WERE OBEDIENT TO THE WILL OF GOD
They all not only heard the word of God, they were obedient to the will of God. These were not the only ones who heard about the birth of Christ, but these were the ones who obeyed God.
They did whatever God told them to do and found blessing as a result of their obedience. They discovered the reality and the spiritual principle which James reminds us of when he tells us that it is the doer who acts who is blessed in his doing.
WHAT DID THEY RECEIVE?
Mary went to Elizabeth and received a Benediction.
Joseph went to Bethlehem, to Egypt and to Nazareth, and he and his family received God’s Protection.
The shepherds went to Bethlehem and witnessed the Incarnation.
Simeon and Anna went to the Temple, and saw God’s Salvation.
The wisemen went to Palestine and were guided by God to their Destination.
They all heard the word of God and obeyed the will of God, which resulted in their worshiping God.
WORSHIP GOD IS TO GIVE HIM RIGHTFUL PLACE IN OUR LIVES
To worship God is to give Him His rightful place in our lives, and we testify to that by the praise and thanksgiving which we constantly offer to Him. A Spirit-filled Christian is a worshiping, praising Christian.
Mary magnified God as she contemplated His greatness and faithfulness to her.
Joseph honored God by taking Mary to be his wife and giving his son back to God.
Simeon extolled God and rejoiced in his salvation.
Anna thanked God for the One who had come to bring redemption.
The shepherds glorified God because of the revelation they had received.
The wisemen worshiped God by falling at the feet of Jesus and offering up their gifts.
A WONDERFUL STORY FOR OUR TROUBLED TIMES
The story of Jesus’ birth is a wonderful story. Part of its beauty and wonder is seen in the lives of those who heard and obeyed God’s voice and offered him worship.
We live in troubled times, and we might be tempted to ask where God is and what He is doing. But God is not silent today, nor has He given up on the world. Preparations are even now being made for the coming again of Jesus, this time not as a baby but as Lord and King. He will be seen not by a few but by everyone, and every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord to the glory of His Father.
In the meantime, God is looking for those who will be part of what He is doing to prepare the way for the coming of His Son. He is looking for those who will hear His voice, do what He says and will love and worship Him with all their hearts.
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