An Early Christmas
I have done my share of grumbling about the way merchandising seems to seek an earlier beginning to the Christmas season every year. But, to be honest, in my own way I'm much worse than the merchant and the advertising guru. I vote for an early Christmas. A very early Christmas.
Isaiah would understand what I mean. He was a prophet seven centuries before the birth of our Lord. Isaiah watched his nation go through good times and bad, and with it all, he envisioned an utterly better day. "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light" (Isaiah 9:2). And what is this great light? "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).
Isaiah's vision was of a government with a high God-content, with results that will go far beyond our usual political platforms. Isaiah was reaching into matters of heart and thought.
Micah was a prophet at roughly the same time as Isaiah. We remember him for the words he spoke and wrote. Especially one verse that still thrills us more than twenty-five centuries later: "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" (Micah 5:2).
The little town of Bethlehem was uniquely significant to the Jewish people because their most revered king, David, had come from there. But now Micah was promising something far beyond David.
Job didn't celebrate Christmas, but he wanted its benefit, and he wanted it desperately. He lived in the land of Uz, and "was the greatest of all the men of the east" (Job 1:3). Job's greatness was not simply a matter of wealth and community standing. He was a truly fine human being, someone of whom God could say, "There is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man" (Job 1:8).
Job seemed to live a charmed life. But suddenly it all changed. In a devastating series of events, Job lost his considerable fortune, his seven sons and three daughters, and his health. It seemed so hopeless to Job that he saw God as his enemy. Then Job turns to his friends, hoping they will understand his predicament with God, since they too are human: "For He is not a man, as I am, that I should answer Him, and we should come together in judgment. Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both" (Job 9:32,33).
In truth, Job's request is a pretty hopeless one. He wants a very special kind of mediator, someone with enough standing to lay a hand on God, and enough understanding of our human condition to lay a hand on Job. Job was appealing for Christmas, the event that gives us the only One able to lay a hand on God because He is God, and understanding of humanity because he is human.
What About You?
Are you ready for an early Christmas? Do you feel the need of One who will bring light to your dark world? One who has the authority to forgive your sins and the power to make you a new person?
Maybe, like Job, your life has taken a turn you didn't see coming. Perhaps you have lost the possessions, abilities, or relationships that meant the most to you. Let me assure you of one thing: God has not abandoned you! He loves you so much that He sent His only Son to die for you, and earnestly desires you to come to Him: "God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).
There is nothing we can do in our own efforts to make ourselves clean in God's sight. Jesus has paid the price we could never pay. All we need to do—all we can do—is turn to Him and trust what He has done. Won't you turn to Jesus Christ today? Then, no matter what time of year it is, you will receive the true Gift of Christmas!
"If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation…. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:9,10,13).
—Adapted from Christmas from the Back Side by J. Ellsworth Kalas. Copyright (c) Abingdon Press.