1 Peter 1:10-12 – Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things. (NIV)
Matthew 1:22-23 – All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a Son, and they will call him Immanuel" — which means, "God with us." (NIV)
Last year while shopping at a local thrift store, I was surprised to find a Christmas Bible study book with the odd title, Christmas from the Back Side, written by J. Ellsworth Kalas, a professor who teaches where my son attends seminary. After glancing at a few pages, I decided to buy it. I liked how the author took a unique approach in retelling the same familiar verses of Scripture depicting the birth of Christ. But first, he illustrated our need for Christmas by going back to the very first act of disobedience by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. He described this event as the scandal of Christmas because sin entered the human race, affecting every one of us. Thus, to fully appreciate the significance of Christmas, the author suggests that we must take time during the Advent season to prepare our hearts in a spirit of prayer and repentance.
I also enjoyed the way the author portrayed the Old Testament prophets' longing for the coming of the Messiah: he refers to their prophecies as previews of Christmas. Reflecting these thoughts, I was reminded of today's Scripture in which God revealed to His humble servants, the prophets, that they would be serving not themselves but future generations. Subsequently, since the birth of Christ took place over 2,000 years ago, I asked myself this question: How can such previews of Christmas still be meaningful to us today?
In light of this, consider a sampling of those whose prophetic voices longed for the birth of a Saviour:
- Job 9:33-34a – If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay His hand upon us both, someone to remove God's rod from me. (NIV)
- Numbers 24:17a – I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel. (NIV)
- 1 Samuel 2:25a – If a man sins against another man, God may mediate for him; but if a man sins against the Lord, who will intercede for him? (NIV)
- Isaiah 9:2,6b – The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. And He will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (NIV)
- Micah 5:2 – But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. (KJV)
So, with prayerful anticipation, we, too, through worship, may experience the birth of our Saviour and Lord. Therefore, let us continue to share the gospel news with others throughout this holy season, while always looking forward to the blessed promise of Christ's return.
Prayer: Father, we honour You for the birth of Your Son, Jesus, who humbly came to us for the purpose of setting the captives free. Take away our sins and cause our hearts to yearn for the life of Your Spirit. We thank You for the faithfulness of Your servants, the prophets, whose ministry is still blessing us today with the true meaning of Christmas, not only for this season, but every day of the year. In Christ's holy name, we pray. Amen.