Today’s and tomorrow’s posts are a father and son duo. Today’s is from one of my Bible College professors, who is now my spiritual father, Jim Hodges. Ceci and I love him and Jean dearly. I have written tomorrow’s Christmas Eve post. Jim’s is a great devotional on Christmas, coming at it from a biblical, theological perspective; mine considers what may have been in Christ’s thinking as He was about to become human. I will also share a link to a favorite Christmas video/song. I believe you will enjoy both posts.
The Story of Christmas: Covenant and Conflict
I. Conceptually Christmas began before the creation of the universe!
There was a council meeting of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. What was the subject of that meeting? According to Revelation 13:8, the discussion focused on the topic of redemption:
“All who dwell on the earth will worship Him [the Beast], everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.” The margin in my NASB version renders the last portion of the verse this way: “‘slain from the foundation of the world.’”
The Son of God, Who would come to earth as The Lamb of God, was slain in the mind of God in that council meeting!
Peter, in his first epistle, echoes the same comments about Christ made by John in Revelation 13:8:
“….knowing you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb, unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you…” (I Peter 1:18-20).
Creation’s plan included redemption’s plan! In that council meeting of the Godhead, God the Son was chosen to become human and come to earth as the Lamb, to take away the sins of the world.
The Scripture informs us that the Living Word, Christ, the Creator “became flesh,” (John 1:1-3,14). Jesus the Creator, Son of God, working with the Father and the Spirit in creating the universe, would also become the Son of man, the Redeemer of the world!
Satan, of course, wanted to devour the child, Jesus, at His birth (see Revelation 12:4). The Christmas story in Matthew 2:13-18 documents the effort of the Roman Empire, working through king Herod, to destroy the Lamb. Herod had all the male babies two years old and younger in and around Bethlehem murdered. Herod had a record of killing any competitors for the throne. He even had his own sons murdered!
Let me remind all of us - Christmas is pro-life! Satan, the enemy of humanity, is pro-death!
II. The story of Christmas continues when Jesus is presented as a lamb in a manger in Bethlehem.
Bethlehem means “house of bread.” It was here that Jesus, the Living Bread, came down from heaven to earth (see John 6:50-51).
The Arabs defined the little town as the “house of meat.” We know from history that Bethlehem, located about two miles from Jerusalem, supplied the Temple sacrificial system with animals, especially lambs. Each day on the Temple Mount, two sacrifices were required, one in the morning and one in the evening. Lambs were used in these, plus thousands more at the annual Feast days.
The shepherds in Bethlehem, providing these sacrificial lambs, had to carefully inspect each one during the “lambing” season. They were inspected shortly after birth, followed by wrapping each one in cloths to protect them from injuring themselves; lambs with defects and flaws were disqualified, and thus would not be transported to Jerusalem.
In keeping with the symbolism, Jesus, the Lamb of God, was born in a stable, wrapped in strips of cloth, and placed in a manger - a feeding trough for animals. This was the sign the angels told the shepherds to look for to identify Him! (Luke 2:12).
Thirty years later, Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptizer, introduced Him as “the Lamb of God!” (John 1:29).
III. The Cross of Christ, where the Lamb of God’s blood was shed, continues the story of covenant and conflict.
Jesus, the Son of God, was faithful to the covenant He had mutually made with the Father and the Holy Spirit in that pre-creation council meeting. He faithfully fulfilled that covenant by always doing what He saw His Father doing and by saying what He heard Father say. His life of perfect obedience led to His death at Calvary. This, of course, ushered in and established the New Covenant.
The Conflict is revealed here when by His death and shed blood, Christ disarmed evil princes and powers (see Colossians 2:15). The Cross was the battleground where the “Seed of the woman” would legally and judicially conquer the
“seed of the Serpent” (see Genesis 3:15). At a mountainside, outside the gates of Jerusalem, called the “place of the skull,” Messiah Jesus would suffer a partial wound in His heel, but simultaneously He would deliver a mortal blow to the head of Satan. Yes, Satan is still alive; but he is not well!
IV. Jesus’ followers would walk in covenant and yet experience conflict with the
representatives of the enemies of Christ and His Gospel.
The primary enemies of the Gospel in the first century were apostate 1st century Judaism and the oppressive and tyrannical power of the Roman Empire. Another reference to this entity is “the throne-seat of Satan,” (see Revelation 2:13).
The Roman Empire tolerated the worship of many gods. However, they insisted that the worship of their Caesar was primary. This was known as “the Emperor Cult.” The Romans believed their Caesar was divine.
Caesar Augustus, who decreed a census be taken of all the inhabited earth for the purpose of taxation (Luke 2:1), was referred to by the Romans as “the son of God.” Julius Caesar before him also assumed deity powers.
It’s more than ironic that the choice in the 21st century is the same as in the 1st century - Christ or Caesar!
The modern term for Caesar is “Statism.” Statism is the foundational belief in Marxism, Progressivism, Leftism, and Globalism. Simply said: “the civil government is god and will take care of you from cradle to grave.”
I remind us that the Lord our God ordained civil government (Romans 13:1-7), and therefore it is accountable to Him!
And I leave you with good news found in Revelation 17:14: “These [all the enemies of Christ] will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.”
This overcoming happens now on the earth, not just in the post-resurrection eternal age! All 7 churches in the book of Revelation, chapters 2 and 3, are called to be overcomers! So are we, His Ekklesia, in the earth, at this time! As we walk in covenant with the Lord God and His people, we will experience victory in the conflicts of our time.
Pray with me:
Father in heaven, we thank You for sending Your Son: He announced Your Kingdom’s arrival, revealed You perfectly in His ministry, died as Your Lamb to take away the sins of the world, rose again to life, ascended to heaven to sit down at Your right hand to reign as King and Lord forever!
Today, we renew our covenant with You, and we ask You to fill us again with Your Spirit Who equips us for life, service and victory in Your Kingdom agenda for the earth.
We decree the Lamb has overcome and the Ekklesia will also overcome!
Song link: https://youtu.be/4Zh-yR0pbmU
Click on the link below to watch the full video.