AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH – December 4, 2005
THE BIRTH OF CHRIST AND A CHASTE REJOICING
Isaiah 9:6-7, Micah 5:1-3, Luke 1:32-33
Darkness was the surround at the end of Isaiah 8, but light was to come, even in the person of the CHILD to be born, to be called WONDERFUL, COUNSELLOR, the MIGHTY GOD, the EVERLASTING FATHER and the PRINCE OF PEACE. In Isaiah 9:6-7, it is not that the Father is the Son, a clear clash, but that the Son is in eminence the equal of the Father, one God, sublime, eternal. It is then that we learn this Prince will reign for ever, and this is the end of a series inviolable in form, where Father and Son are seen as ONE! (cf. John 10:30). It is for this very claim that they wanted to stone Christ, this for which they would crucify Him: for which they would inherit millennia of shame and horror.
In this they are now joined willfully by the Gentiles, inventing false gods as if they were grain crops, genetically modified to taste. While there is some question about such GM crops, and what they may bring about in man, there is no doubt about making gods, whether in philosophy, sociology or politics, who are to dominate, rule and define man! When the non-Creator makes the mould for man, you may be sure the mouldy will abound, and the misshapen will flourish. So it was to be (II Peter 2, II Tim. 3-4), and so it is.
I THE NATURE OF THE ANNOUNCEMENT TO MICAH
Before we look at Isaiah and Gabriel, consider Micah. Here was an everlasting Being shown, one whose goings are everlasting, and it is He who is so defined as the One to be born in Bethlehem. However, this portentous pronouncement is preceded by an enormity. Not only will there be recalcitrance in the very presence of the Creator come to earth, at a pre-announced site, but there will be a strange contempt of Court, one bewilderingly blatant.
They will “strike the Judge of Israel on the cheek.”
Now imagine going up to your judge, and insulting him! This is far too small: imagine slapping his face, in indignation. One can hardly conceive of it. But consider striking him! add this, do it with a rod! Whack him with a baseball bat, maybe!
This was the achievement of the priestly rulers and the Roman Governor in Jerusalem! This prediction showed that there would certainly be suffering before the glory of fulfilling His grand design, that He would be more surely sent as a shaft (Isaiah 49:2), than readily reach the heart, more certainly dispatched with commission than received with repentance. He would be despised and afflicted, rejected of men (Isaiah 53). What then of ourselves ?
It reminds us at once that the servant is not greater than his Master (John 15:20-22):
“Remember the word that I said to you,
‘A servant is not greater than his master.’
If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.
all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake,
because they do not know Him who sent Me.
I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin,
but now they have no excuse for their sin.”
At once we realise the import of Paul’s words in Colossians 1:11: “Strengthened with might according to His glorious power to all patience and longsuffering with joy.” Seen in the light of I and II Cor. 4, where Paul shows what it means to be ‘fools for Christ’s sake’, this shows that the message to the lost does not concern bodies, as where both doctor and patient want healing to come, but rather spirits which rejoice in their renegacy, are proud to boasting in their basting in sin and are unclean, not desiring to be cleansed. ONLY a miracle can lead them home (John 3). If they struck the JUDGE of Israel with a ROD on the CHEEK, what may His servants expect!
II THE THRUST OF THAT TO ISAIAH, AND TO MARY FROM GABRIEL
At Isaiah’s declaration in Ch. 9, we have already looked. In its earlier verses, you see the eventual relief from meaningless war and fruitless struggle in the kingdom of the babe to be King, incarnation of God, the Saviour of the world. Of Him, Gabriel spoke to Mary, declaring: He will be great and be called the Son of the Highest, to reign over Jacob with an everlasting kingdom, just as in Is. in 9:7 we find He was the One to maintain truth and justice for ever, 49:6 with 42:6 showing that as to Israel, so it would be to all nations! Is. 11:9 assures us that in Him the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. Yet that is then, and this is now, and in this increasing epoch of ruin, with what rugged resistance a recalcitrant world persists in confusion bloodshed and remorseless impenitence, in the very midst of this sublime greatness, available in Christ.
Since however, as Psalm 2 shows, this same Messiah was to be subjected to every effort to thwart His placement, abort His mission and crush His capacities, it is apparent that there is a chaste rejoicing; for before the glory is the suffering, and before the consummation is the pain, grievous and staggering, even that of death. This too is overcome, just as He has shown His power in His prodigies of labour on earth, His precision of fulfilment from heaven, and His provision of peace (Isaiah 9:7), which in heart for His people already is profound, and in His coming rule shall be endless. Thus our rejoicing is not for an easy road, a non-testing time, for the end of examinations; rather is it for the end of preliminaries, for now without priests and without temple, we AS the stones in the living temple of Christ, worship Him direct! It is finished, but the testimony is not finished.
The light of the Gospel has to be relayed in the midst of what Paul calls a perverse and a crooked generation (Philippians 2:15), and THIS NOW, it is the END of it, its extremity! Therefore if there be any purity of heart, justice to one’s neighbour, liberality of love, kindness of thought, splendour of spirituality as you love your enemies and do good to those who act against you, let it thrust, its rainbow-like light merging in the moisture, like a giant waterfall, the spray apparent to all. The time is now, and soon it is past, too late.
III THE RESULTS OF THE ACTION
“Therefore we remember Paul’s words in Colossians 1:12-13: “giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”
Notice that the forgiveness of sins is not to enable our making a feature of them, but of their remission, demission and dissolution. We are conveyed FROM the kingdom and POWER of darkness TO the kingdom of the Son of His love, being qualified by Him, sacrificed and now abundantly alive, indeed living in us, from whom we receive the inheritance of the saints in light… in the sense of PARTAKERS!
“Rejoice with trembling” is the injunction of Psalm 2! "Kiss the Son lest He be angry" is the exhortation in Psalm 2, meaning that one give to Him heartfelt fealty, devotion and that love which loves His words, not to fondle them like a cat, but to apply them with the zest that love brings! (John 14:21-23). As one expressed it, the Christian is one who is eagerly expectant for Christ's return, not one content with His absence from this earth! The Christian seeks consummation in Christ, not this world.
Christ did NOT come in thought, but in fact; in principle but in Person; so let us not practice Christianity, as if to strum on a guitar, but as TRANSLATED, CONVEYED, in light and in love, our deeds with relish following the redemption by reality, found in Him and practised just as one seeks the top of some vast mountain, all ardour and steam, all endeavour and expectation, yes, and this with joyfulness. Be vigilant, be strong, steadfast, pure, be lovely in the Lord (Song of Solomon, Isaiah 61:10), clothed with HIS chaste beauty, in all your ways and actions, fearless for truth, gracious in favour, kindly in heart.
Deal with all as you would receive in heaven, so on earth. Do not be fond of this world (James 4:4), abort its desires if you would be friend, not enemy of God! Seek to be pure in intention, in invention and in action, to be holy because HE is holy (I Peter 1:15), to be filled with light having no part dark (Luke 11:36), allowing no sad flicker of soot to bring scorn to your profession or snickering at your way. Be valiant, be strong, be godly! For what less becomes one who follows the Judge smitten with a rod on the cheek, yes crucified! for us, that we might live in and for Him, as children of the light.