Monday, December 26, 2005

Behold the New

Many people are already starting to put away their Christmas decorations. Which is a shame, because the season of Christmas has only just started. Today is the second day of Christmas, yesterday being the first. The Twelve Days of Christmas are not a count-down to Christmas day, but a celebration which begins on Christmas day and runs all the way through to January 6, which some celebrate as Three Kings Day, and shows on the traditional church calendar as the beginning of Epiphany (for more about this, see Jesus is the Reason for EVERY Season).

Culturally, we are also getting ready for New Year, widely recognized as a time for new beginnings. How appropriate that it should smack in the middle of Christmas, because if Christmas is about anything, it is about the new beginning we have in Jesus Christ, the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us. Everything has changed since He came into the world.

At the Nativity, the event we celebrate at Christmas, the angels could not keep silent, but cried out:
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men. (Luke 2:14)
The earth has always been filled with the glory of God — as the angels in Isaiah’s vision proclaimed (Isaiah 6:3). All that was needed was a revelation of His glory, something God promised in Habakkuk 2:14: “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD.”

That is what happened at the first Christmas:
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
In other words, it was a revelation of the glory of God. That is indeed what the angels were singing about: Glory to God in the highest — “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). It was this announcement which jolted the angels so that they could not contain themselves anymore, and they pierced the silent darkness with loud, powerful praises.

Glory to God in the highest — it has now been revealed! Not only glory, but peace as well, the peace of heaven coming into the earth. For Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and at the Cross, “the chastisement for our peace was upon Him” (Isaiah 53:5) In other words, He took our chastisement and gave us His peace. This would be the Hebrew understanding of peace, the shalom of God: wholeness, restoration, oneness — nothing missing, nothing broken.

The glory of God was revealed that night in the city of Bethlehem. The peace of heaven entered the earth that night, for all who trust in Him, for these are the ones upon whom His favor rests, the ones in whom He is well-pleased.

The Bible says, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). This began on that Christmas night and was completed thirty-three years later at the Cross.

The revelation of God’s glory and the peace of heaven entered the world at Christmas — and they have never left! They are not absent, but are fully present in power. The only problem is that we have so often failed to appropriate them.

Now is the time to lay hold of the revelation of the Word of God and the things announced by the angels at Bethlehem. Now is the time to give ourselves over to the Lord Jesus Christ, to receive the peace He came to give us and experience the favor He came to show us, to walk in the glory He came to reveal to us and live in the victory He came to give us. That is where our all our new beginnings lay.

“Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Behold the new!

Let Earth Receive Her King
Let Earth Receive Her King
Advent, Christmas and the Kingdom of God
by Jeff Doles

Preview with Amazon’s “Look Inside.”

Available in paperback and Kindle (Amazon), epub (Google and iTunes) and PDF.

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