We are starting our run up to Christmas with Advent, which is the period that prepares the scene for Christ’s birth. Many say that Christmas 2020 is different, in that the way we face the Christmas can be with caution, with fear or with dismissal. Many say it is foolhardy to celebrate this fundamental feast in the Christian Calendar. I would say it is fundamental we celebrate it in the truth that God desires to birth His Son again in the Church and society as a whole!
We are going to start with 3 elements that come from Matthew 2 and Luke 2, which are applicable to today, and they give us lessons we need to be attentive to.
Knowledge: it is not what you know that brings you into the centre of God’s restorative work.
The other day when musing the Christmas story we see in Matthew 2 the arrival of Magi from far away. From what we can surmise from this, is that they came from Persia. They must have undertaken much journey of many months, propelled by the appearence of the star, which inspired them to follow and be part of what they understood to be the birth of royalty. They arrived in Jerusalem.
2 Now when Jesus was born in Beth-lehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. 3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5 And they said unto him, In Beth-lehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 6 And thou Beth-lehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
The Scribes knew their Scriptures, and could pinpoint where Jesus would be born Messiah. Yet they are not included in the adoration. It seems that the Magi understood that there was a divine invitation in the star’s appearence. The Scribes knew the fact that a Messiah would be born in their midst, yet they were not privy to the when or the how of God’s conception and bringing to birth the Messiah. Right now with the proliferation of knowledge, knowledge even of the Scriptures, even the knowledge which we can pinpoint truth does not mean we become part of what God wants to do. Very often through Jesus’ ministry the Scribes were at best enemies of the Messiah’s mission. This starts at the time of the birth of the Messiah.
This year 2020 so much has been taught, prophesied, interpretations of Biblical prophecy, yet we can sometimes find ourselves outside of the preparation which God does when He is about to birth again something as a turning point.
Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures does not mean we receive the divine invitation to see the Messiah birthed in our generation. This invitation comes with a heart for change, a heart for God to restore His Glory in our midst. Paul distinguishes 2 things in Romans 12, the difference between being conformed and transformed. The conforming is being part of the worldly flow, whilst being transformed has all to do with being affected and regenerated through the knowledge that God imparts to us. We do not wear revelations and insights as medals, and Church being a procession of who knows more. And it seems as we approach Christmas 2020 we come to the season weighed with all the years destructions, deceptions, divisions and disease, to believe that Christmas must be celebrated for sanity. However, God wants His Church to approach Christmas with all the vast theological knowledge we may have and realise that the Messiah must be birthed again, as in Acts 3:19-21, where Peter admonishes that Jesus will be sent to us, so that He may send seasons of refreshing from the Presence of the Lord, so that having being retained in heaven for restitution of ALL THINGS, the birthing of Jesus, or His coming to us, is part of the Christmas story. John 1 puts it this way, that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Or Isaiah 9 which says He shall be called Emmanuel, God with us. All passages recited in this season but not taken always literally for today, but it is necessary that what was historical must become actual. So in that sense that if the Word became flesh in Christ, so Christ must become flesh in the Church. Knowledge is not enough.
The star; we must recognise and apply the signs God is giving to the world, which lead us directly to Christ.
The appearance of a bright star convinced the Magi, men of understanding that something big was about to take place. The sign was royal, meaning of high stature in a Kingdom. They travelled months following the star. Following the sign. Right now there is a “sign” God is bringing His people, as kingdoms of this world are being shaken. This “sign” is akin to Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, a mountain coming as a Kingdom that cannot be shaken. There are signs God is birthing in His people, if they will follow them they will lead us to the revelation of Jesus in our Generation.
The wise men found that even the Jews confirmed what they already knew, yet they had lived their lives solely based on the “sign” God had given them. God is giving signs, and are you turning your priorities to live solely for the thing that God has given to you to see and follow? It could take time to arrive, but when you do you shall be led. Their gifts and their adoration was prophetic to what Jesus is. And the Lord is desiring to take His Church into a new adoration of Jesus, like we have never seen before, our worship based on what knowledge, revelation knowledge we have received. It is time to live a Christ centred pursuit. The Lord has put His Daystar in our hearts. The daystar is the light that comes before the dawn. 2 Peter 1:19. In the Old Testament Lucifer was the Morning Star, but in his fall, Jesus has taken that position. Once Jesus comes to us, lights His daystar in our hearts, promises light in the darkest hour and promises the dawn. The Scriptures do say that mourning lasts but a night, but joy comes in the morning. Morning is coming, and His day births in and through us.
Angels: New angelic ministry moves through the earth to make way for His people to come into restoration.
In Daniel 9&10 we see the preparation of the angels through a war in the heavens, which prepare the way for Israel to return to the land to prepare for her Messiah. Just as we see the angels move the nations, now in Luke 2 we see two manifestations of angels. the angels who announce, lead and worship.
The angels bring shepherds to Jesus, as He is the Shepherd of all shepherds. Leading the sheep to safety. So the announcement brings the heavenly invitation to Christ, the Messiah, the son of David. This restoration supersedes the one of Daniel 9&10, it brings an eternal restoration in which the whole of heaven celebrates. When we hear the commentators in the internet speaking of darkness, uncertainty, depression, so the angels are coming to His people to bring good news, and lead them to Jesus, and fill the heaven with worship. Christmas is not about receiving but about giving Him worship and seeing that fill the heavens, and bring glorious light. Where there are angels, as in Isaiah 6, we see them bring announcement, lead us to understand Him, behold Him, and bring us His Holiness and worship to us. If anytime in 2020 that the Church must do is bring a new sound of worship that is inspired from the angels who announce His birthing in our midst. This will bring us into a place of being in Jesus’ presence in whatever form He will come in our generation. Let us have faith that in 2020 angelic ministry is coming especially now.
So many parallels we are going to see in this series up to this Christmas. Let us worship and follow Him in this season, so that 2021 will start with us full of His vision in our eyes, His birthing in our hearts, and His mission in our feet.