“Hark the herald angels sing, a dragon waits to eat our king.” That was a tweet by Chad Bird, linking to his blog post, “When a Dragon Tried To Eat Jesus: The Nativity Story We Don’t Talk About.” The opening sentence is: “I’m still searching for a Christmas card with a red dragon in the nativity, lurking amidst the cows and lambs, waiting to devour the baby in the manger.” It points to the nativity account in Revelation 12. When a friend posted a link to the article, I responded with, “I don’t have a Christmas card, but some of us do talk about it,” and linked to the December issue of New Horizons. But what happens after the birth and earthly ministry of Christ? What about when he has been snatched up to heaven and we, his people, his church, are still on earth—along with the dragon? What is going on? Is the dragon defeated? How dangerous is he? Are we now his victims? Revelation 12:10-12 gives you hope!
The accuser no longer has access. Satan accused God’s people. John uses dramatic symbolism, but he helpfully identifies the dragon as Satan, who, as his name indicates, is the accuser of God’s people. Think of Satan accusing Job before God, or again, bringing an accusation against the high priest, Joshua, in Zechariah 3. There is a superficial validity to Satan’s accusations—since God’s people are sinners (the serpent-dragon had something to do with that), how can a holy God forgive them? How can God’s justice do anything but condemn? A majestic voice from heaven explains. Continue reading “The Dragon’s Defeat”
In the familiar story of Luke 2:8-12 an angel comes to shepherds outside of Bethlehem with joyful news. What makes the news good? And is that encouragement spoken to you—who may not happen to be feeling happy?
Good news replaces fear. Stand in awe of the glory of the Lord. An angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds in the dark, quiet fields outside Bethlehem. These courageous men were terrified by the glory of the Lord which shone around them. This shekinah glory had led the Israelites in the wilderness, had settled on Mt. Sinai as God gave his law to Moses, and then was reflected from Moses’ face. The glory of the Lord filled the Tent of Meeting at its dedication and later the Temple at its opening. This glory had nearly undone Isaiah when he saw it filling the temple. What frightened the shepherds was not simply the brilliance of the light or the unexpectedness of the angel’s appearance. Rather, it was the sudden consciousness that they were sinners, and they were in the presence of a perfectly holy being. Continue reading “Good News Of Great Joy”
God’s promise to David in 2 Samuel 11 sounds almost incredible. But if that news is challenging to believe, how much more what the angel says to Mary in Luke 1: 26-38!
God has done what seems impossible. God greets you with his grace. Gabriel brings good news for the second time in Luke 1. Instead of the temple at Jerusalem, this is a home in the town of Nazareth, far to the north, far from the center of religious life and political power. Mary is highly favored. She is the recipient of God’s grace, in that sense full of grace. By faith she looked God, and specifically to her Son as her Savior, v.47. Don’t worship Mary, but do give her the respect and honor which is appropriate. God selected her for a very special task. God’s greetings come to you as well. Gabriel’s greeting of Mary would lead to the message to the shepherds. Luke records the good news which is too great to confine to one person, or even to one nation. Continue reading “Nothing Is Impossible with God”
The shepherds in the field found the angel, who surrounded them with the glory of God, terrifying. The ministry of the prophet, Isaiah was defined by the glory of God—having witnessed that glory in the vision of Isaiah 6, he was called to preach judgment to a people with hardened hearts. But the Isaiah 40:1-5 points you to a comforting display of the glory of God.
Praise God for his glory. Praise God for the comfort of his forgiveness. The Lord had proclaimed judgement through Isaiah. His prophecy was delivered to a rebellious people, Isaiah 1:2. The people were “modern” in their rebellion against God. Therefore, God had called on Isaiah to proclaim judgment, 6:9-12. The holy justice of God cannot be separated from the good news. You can’t appreciate the depth of his love unless you understand his holiness. Your hard service is over. Isaiah looks ahead to the exile, and then to the restoration under Cyrus. But his eyes focus beyond Cyrus and the returning exiles on the ultimate restoration, the coming of the true theocracy, Isaiah 40-48. Your sin has been paid for. It is not just that the Lord considers Israel’s suffering sufficient, but rather, the price for sin has been paid. This time the sacrifice is not an animal, but the Suffering Servant. Forgiveness replaces judgment, Isaiah 49-57. You have received double for all your sins. The blessing is double the punishment, Isaiah 61:7. God’s deliverance in Christ is a free, abundant gift. Salvation is abundant and glorious, Isaiah 58-66. “God will again appear among men. This time, however, it will be an eschatological coming, a revelation of the glory of God that will display itself in His salvation.” (E. J. Young, Commentary on Isaiah, Vol. 3, p.30). Continue reading “The Comfort of God’s Glory”
This season can be the favorite time of year—or it can be incredibly difficult, especially for those suffering from illness or dealing with grief. Look with me at the very first promise of the incarnation (God becoming man) as it is found near the beginning of the Bible in Genesis 3:14-15, and notice the challenging circumstances in which that promise was given.
God gave his promise in the context of a curse. You need God’s promise because you stand guilty before him. God questioned Adam and Eve. They had a sense of their guilt, vv. 7,10. God, as the righteous judge, was questioning them, not because he needed information, but to bring them to see their guilt. The question of v. 11 focuses on God’s command, and gives opportunity for clear confession and repentance. With your first parents, you are guilty. Adam was your representative. You are involved in his guilt, but you also have added to his guilt placed on your account, you are liable for all of the daily sins you commit. You and I stand with Adam and Eve. Continue reading “The Promise of the Incarnation”