Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas, or This Means War!

"Enemy occupied territory - that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us to all take part in a great campaign of sabotage."

C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity

Isaiah 9:6-7 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it withjustice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

These verses are familiar to us at Christmastime. Who doesn't like a Prince of Peace? Who doesn't want a better government, one full of justice and righteousness, than they currently have? It sounds as though those verses were written for us, today.

Not as familiar, however, are the verses preceding Isaiah 9:6-7.

Isaiah 9: 2-5 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined. You have multipled the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil. For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire.

Jesus was born into a world at war. What war, though? Isaiah, of course, was writing to the Jewish people. He was not, however, writing of an earthly war.

Revelation 12: 1-5, 9-10, 17  And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne...

And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world - he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God...

Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus...

The war was never primarily an earthly war, although we see it on earth from the very beginning, even the beginning of Jesus' life on earth.

Matthew 2:13, 16 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him."...Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.

Do you see the same wording in Revelation and Matthew? "Became furious." The devil became furious; Herod became furious. Herod/the devil killed all the male children...this was a Christmas at war. The devil mounted a full-on attack to win a war that had been declared lost since Genesis 3:15. Can you imagine him? The Lord's Son, born of a virgin, enraged him. He pulled out all the stops...killed the baby boys...outsmarted at every turn by the Lord Himself.

Hebrews 2:14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,

1 John 3:8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

He didn't only come into the manger as a sweet little baby on a bed of hay. He didn't only come as the Prince of Peace or a Wonderful Counselor. He came on a mission to destroy the deceiver who had the power of death.

Exodus 15:3 The LORD is a man of war; the LORD is his name.

Colossians 2:15 He disarmed the rules and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

How did He wage the war? By laying down His life. Not the way we normally do it, is it? We want action; we want revenge; we want bloodshed. He gave us bloodshed. His own blood was shed for us.

Romans 5:9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.

"Satan's work is not the chief peril dealth with in the death of Christ. God's wrath is." John Piper

Zechariah 3:1-4 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?" Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, "Remove the filthy garments from him." And to him he said, "Behold, I have taken you iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments."

Jesus, the sweet, silent baby of our Nativity scenes, is God's Chosen Warrior who wrested power from the accuser, satisfied the wrath of God against a sinful people, and washed our filthy garments that we might appear before God in pure, clean robes of His righteousness, having been washed in His blood that was willingly spilled during a war that has been won yet still rages here on earth.

Matthew 1:21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."

"For to us a child is born"


Julia said...

Well spoken indeed!!!!

Five Cajuns and a Fundraiser said...

Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

thoughtfully and beautifully written; love all the different Biblical references and the way you tied them all together.