Christmas Tidings – December 2021
In this issue…
- The Time Has Come!
- God Loves us!
- How Free Are We?
Time’s Up! “The time has come!” Mic 5:2-3
“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labour has given birth; then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel.” Micah 5:2-3.
Once an elderly Swiss watch-maker attended our meetings in Spain. He was a precious and godly man, and well aware that he could soon go to be with the Lord.
Knowing that his departure could be at any time, he asked me to be ready to take care of his funeral. And he wanted to know what I would preach about on that occasion. I answered him that as he was a watchmaker I would take as my topic: Time’s Up!
For several years we laughed together about that. And he continued down here for many years before finally he was called home.
Well, basically that is what Micah was saying: “The time has come!”
Have you ever wondered why we sing “O little town of Bethlehem” at Christmas? (Emphasis on ‘little’).
The above verses tell us that Bethlehem was too little to be among the clans of Israel. For every 1000 there was a clan leader. But Bethlehem was so tiny, they couldn’t find a thousand.
Not only was Bethlehem tiny, but also the deliverer was to be a tiny Babe! Micah talks about a woman in labour. This Ruler who was to come forth – though “from of old” – was to come as a Child.
Here is the message of Christmas: The Messiah was to come! God became flesh! “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John 1:14 ESV).
As a Man, He is born – BUT as the Son of God He is the Messiah – whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
Here is a good example of Prophecy’s primary & secondary fulfilment. Many prophecies have a fulfilment for the old times, and a future fulfilment in the last days.
Joel is a good example of this: He prophesied about the Day of Pentecost, and also the Second Coming of the Messiah.
Israel faced the onslaught of Syria – that was primary – and was delivered – and will face it again, that is secondary fulfilment.
Antichrist attacks Israel. It may help you if you understand this principle. Anyone who attacks Israel, either with weapons or words, is attacking “the apple of God’s eye!” (“For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.” (Zechariah 2:8 KJV).
That’s something you won’t want to do!
Messiah came (primary) – and WILL COME AGAIN! (secondary).
The Time Has Come!
Time was up for prophets
“God, who at many times and in many ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds…” (Hebrews 1:1-2).
The Bible is clear: it is the end for many things we hold dear. Even “tongues shall cease, prophecy shall be done away with!”
For us as Gentiles, the end of the times of the Gentiles is at hand!
Already we see the churches return to their Jewish roots, and salvation returning to Israel.
The church as we know it will not be the same again.
Oh the delight of it. No more form and ritualism. No more divisions through denominations. No more need for prophets.
He is our Prophet Priest and King!
He is our PROPHET!
Time was up for priests
I am a pastor not a priest. A priest offers a sacrifice, whereas a pastor (shepherd) cares for the sheep.
When Jesus was born it was the end for priests. He was the sacrifice given once for all. No more temple worship. The end of sacrifices.
“Unto You!” the Angels announced to those shepherds outside Bethlehem who kept the flocks, sheep being prepared for temple sacrifice.
“Unto you is born a Saviour!”
The shepherds’ job was over. There was no other sacrifice for sin.
He is our Prophet – Priest – and King!
He is our PRIEST!
And time is up for kings!
“The kingdoms of this earth have become the Kingdoms of our God.”
Three kings came to see Him who is born King of the Jews.
This Babe, born in a manger, died King of the Jews, as Pilate said – and Resurrected: King of Kings!
They bent the knee before the manger – but Herod would not!
One day he will bow! Even Herod. How do I know? Because the word of God says so:
“… At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of heavenly ones, and of earthly ones, and of ones under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10-11).
The time is up for kings. He is our KING!
God Loves Us!
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 KJV).
This verse may not seem very apt for a Christmas article, but it is most relevant.
It is not about turkey and tinsel, or toys. It’s about LOVE.
It is clear God loves all Peoples
“And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 8:11 KJV).
That’s what Jesus said.
We all are anxious about the flow of economic migrants who flood into our countries with no checks.
But when it comes to the kingdom, there’s room for all.
Romans had a bad reputation in Israel in Jesus’s day.
But read the Gospels and you will see that Jesus even loved Romans!
Referring to a Roman soldier, Jesus tells a crowd that He has not seen so much faith even in Israel.
This man was an Invader, but had built synagogues.
Today, at a time when churches have very little backbone, African Church leaders have stood up firmly for the truth of the Scriptures. And stood against the sins that the Bible calls “abominations to the Lord.”
Without African bishops, Anglican doctrine would have been diluted!
Today we are seeing a church of the ‘woke’, a word that is supposed to mean “alert to the evils of discrimination and injustice.”
But sadly, I don’t think they usually stand up for the unborn child.
Wokeness is a new religion, elevating mankind. The old lie of Satan – “Ye shall be as gods!”
One UK clergyman claimed that we are past Jesus now.
Here’s a Heavenly view of the real Church:
“After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9-10 KJV).
All nations, all languages, all classes.
God loves all peoples!
It’s also clear God loves all ages!
Most times people say we are either too old, or too young.
It is God’s will that we honour the aged:
“You shall stand up before the gray head and honour the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the LORD.” Leviticus 19:32.
And also, youth are important. “Let no one DESPISE YOUR YOUTH” – Paul told Timothy.
Sadly, however prophecy is fulfilled today by the way the young treat the old.
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy…” 2 Tim 3:1-2.
It makes sense to encourage the elderly:
Perhaps they have less time left – but they have more time for the Lord!
Look at Anna: “A widow of about fourscore and four years, who departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.” Lk 2:37.
Also, God loves all denominations
(Of course, I am talking about all denominations that are preaching the “full counsel of God,” telling folk that they need to be born again. Those who love the Lord, and obey the Scriptures).
He loves all denominations. But in a sense He doesn’t like them at all: Sectarianism is a great evil!
Jesus said: “He that is not against us IS WITH US!”
And Paul asked “IS CHRIST DIVIDED?” Some of the Corinthians said they were followers of Paul, and others claimed to be followers of Apollos.
That’s what denominationalism is like:- “I am of Wesley.”
The Church should be FREE! A free Church. Not belonging to any particular group.
Gal 4:26 “But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.”
The Church is FREE! We don’t have to swallow what someone tells us.
We are “Non-denominational!” – “we are free to fellowship with all!”
“How pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.” Ps 133:1.
In a free Church: – Baptists who believe in adult baptism AND Anglicans who were baptised as infants, sit together.
Methodists who believe in freewill, & Calvinists who believe in election, lay their differences down and bow before the throne..
A FREE church service focuses on the things that unite rather than the things that may divide. That takes humility, maturity, grace, and a call from God – and GOD LOVES IT!
He loves all peoples, all ages, and all denominations.
How Free Are We?
Luke 2:12 “This shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”
What are you getting for Christmas? Some new clothes?
“I will rejoice greatly in the Lord, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness,…” (Isaiah 61:10).
Some of the greatest joys of my life were visiting Romania when the people were living in poverty, and taking trucks full of aid. One Christmas we had been given several fur coats to distribute. (People in the west had given up wearing fur coats, but they didn’t want to just throw them away).
As we drove through the icy streets, I saw an old lady dressed in rags in that bitterly cold weather. We stopped the truck, and I stumbled across the ice, a mink coat in hand. What an amazing feeling to be able to wrap that warm coat around her.
We used to sing a hymn:-
The windows of heaven are open, The blessings are falling tonight.
I’ve got joy, joy, joy in my heart, Since Jesus made everything right. I gave Him my old dirty garment, He gave me a robe of pure white, And now I’m feasting on manna from heaven, and that’s why I’m happy tonight.
That’s SUBSTITUTION. New clothes for old!
Being born again has very little to do with us accepting Jesus – See the Baby there? That is God accepting us.
“Peace on Earth – goodwill to all men!” This has little to do with us extending goodwill to others. It is God extending His love to mankind.
GOD WAS in Christ reconciling the world to Himself!
We stand before a holy God dressed in robes of righteousness without spot and without blemish.
BUT When He dresses us in His clothes of righteousness – remember they can be like swaddling bands.
His garment of salvation will restrict us!
In the 17th Century swaddling was abolished. It was too restrictive.
He is bound hand and foot! He Who created the world is now unable to move! Those hands that would touch the lame and the blind cannot move. Those feet that would walk across Israel, cannot move!
And there’s your sign! These shepherds kept the temple flock. Psa 118:26- “…Bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar. Those hands and feet would be nailed to a cross!
However, those swaddling bands will bring us comfort
Wrapping a baby shows a caring parent.
Job says God swaddled the earth in clouds!
For another example, Jerusalem was an outcast that nobody cared for “And as for thy nativity, in the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to supple thee; thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all.” Ezekiel 16:4
Abandoned! BUT He put His arm around her and said: LIVE!
That is what God wants to do for you!
He wants to take you, and wash away all your past sins, and adopt you into His family!
“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15.
This Christmas, fall before Him in worship, and give Him your heart.
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12 KJV).