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The Messiah: Israel's Glory
And the World's Hope
By Dr. Mary Craig
You won’t find divine authority for celebrating Christmas. You won’t find agreement as to the exact date of Jesus’ birth. It wasn’t until the middle of the third century that the Western part of the Church celebrated the nativity, followed shortly by the Eastern Church adopting the practice. In fact, we can be almost certain that it wasn’t December 25th, that the day has more to do with pagan festivals than truth. But it is proper to contemplate the Incarnation and celebrate the giving of Christ as Israel’s glory and the world’s hope.
In the city of David a Savior, Christ the Lord, would be born. The angels declared it so to shepherds watching their flocks in the fields. It was good news, tidings of great joy. Those shepherds feared, for it was commonly believed that one would die if beholding supernatural appearances. Nevertheless, the angel said, "Fear not."
Charles Spurgeon comments, "Henceforth, it is to be no dreadful thing for man to approach his Maker; redeemed man is not to fear when God unveils the splendor of his majesty, since he appears no more a judge upon his throne of terror, but a Father unbending in sacred familiarity before his own beloved children."
The angel brought good tidings of great joy to all people. Peace and good will to all people is cause célèbre to give glory to God in the highest. Sin separated humanity from God, but the incarnation preludes the atoning sacrifice that bridges the gap and brings peace with God. God can now look upon you and upon me and His Son and remember that His own Son became man. With cause for wrath, God can remember Jesus who took our place and bore the divine penalty for sin, propitiating the wrath of God. In this great proclamation God declares His initiative in terminating His hostility toward sinners, for He has provided a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.
The time to favor Zion, the set time, had come. In Bethlehem, the city of David, a Savior was born. Unto Israel a Son is given, a child is born. He is the Christ, the anointed: anointed as prophet to preach the gospel with power; anointed as priest to offer sacrifice; anointed as king to rule and reign. This priest after the order of Melchizedek, this prophet like unto Moses, this king of whose dominion there is no end, is come.
He has come unto you. First this is to individuals and then to Israel. Jesus is the promised Messiah, the Suffering Servant, the Savior. But it is also to all the people, for this peace comes to earth, this good will comes to the whole human race. Let the earth rejoice, and let the nations be glad!
The shepherds watching their flocks that night did not ask for a sign, but God graciously provided one. I believe this sign served to remove all doubt. This Anointed One would be found wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. They may not have expected their soon and coming King to be found in such humble circumstances. No one’s coming out to announce His birth at the pinnacle of some high tower somewhere. Yet angels did announce His birth. Something far more glorious than the earthly glitter of gaudy courts and pompous pageants broke through the heavens that night. Truth and righteousness, peace and salvation is a God thing, yet in the cradle at Bethlehem, the world’s hope rested in an infant who would grow in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and men.
To this holy child Jesus, everyone may come. People from every tribe and nation, from any ethnic group, from all social groups, from either gender, from any race, rich or poor, slave or free, may come.
The shepherds stopped what they were doing and started seeking the Savior. Just as the angels appeared suddenly, so also they set out to seek Him immediately. They "came with haste," and they found Jesus just as it was spoken to them, in a manger in Bethlehem wrapped in swaddling clothes. They started telling everyone, and then they returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
It will be the same for you and for me. We are invited to come, to seek out Jesus, the Messiah and Savior, and find Him for ourselves to be all that God has declared Him to be, all that He came to be. And when we seek Him with all of our hearts, we will find Him to be Christ the Lord. May we then bow down and worship Him who was and is and who lives forevermore.
GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST
AND ON EARTH
PEACE, GOOD WILL TOWARD MEN
© 2001 Mary Craig Ministries, Inc.
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