A new year begins with resolutions and hopes of doing better. But those resolutions often see a precipitous decline as other things crowd our time. This year we have been blessed by God with extra time to acknowledge Him, read His word and go to Him in prayer. How are we using that blessing?
A Child is Born
While December 25th is perhaps one of the least likely times for the birth of our Savior, many other times have drawn speculation as appropriate times for such a momentous occasion. One of those times is around this time of year. At Bethlehem the fields would have been filled with newborn lambs as preparations for Passover were underway. Wouldn’t it be interesting if God chose to bring the Lamb of God into the world at the same time? That would put Joseph and Mary at the Temple near Passover to offer thanks to God for their first-born child.
It is, of course, a futile speculation. However, in spite of us NOT knowing His birthday, we do know that God and His faithful people anticipated that momentous day for centuries before it finally came. And in that promise and hope there is an important lesson for us.
It began with a world that had just lost its hope, its reason for life. Adam and Eve had just brought sin into the world and in so doing destroyed their relationship with God. Even as God pronounced sentence on them for their sin, He gave a promise of a child being born that would change everything (cf. Genesis 3:15).
In the centuries to come God’s people repeatedly looked forward to a child being born. Abraham was a century into his life before his son of promise was born. Amram and Jochebed would see a son born at a dangerous time who would survive to lead God’s people. That son would prophecy shortly before his own death that God would one day bring another into this world that would supplant Moses as the great lawgiver.
Under Moses God’s people would be brought to the land promised as the home for that ultimate Son of God. As the people of God moved in and filled the land, they wavered between worshipping the true God and forgetting all His promises. In the coming years a child would be born that would lead God’s people as an exceptional king and his son would rule in an extraordinary time of peace. Solomon would build and dedicate a Temple to God that would be filled with praises and the promise of a coming child. But the time was not yet.
Following Solomon’s death the nation split and dark days reigned for the northern kingdom as they were led for the most part by unfaithful kings. The southern kingdom wavered between faithful and unfaithful kings as they watched their northern brethren approach their destruction. It was in those darkest days that a child would be born and grow up to be the great prophet… Isaiah.
Isaiah would, under God’s direction, write of the dark days and the hope to come:
But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them. You shall multiply the nation, You shall increase their gladness; They will be glad in Your presence As with the gladness of harvest, As men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For You shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders, The rod of their oppressor, as at the battle of Midian. For every boot of the booted warrior in the battle tumult, And cloak rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire. (Isaiah 9:1-5)
And then, even in the midst of dark days would come a child:
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)
A child is born, but not just any child. This one would be so much more than just one of us. For this would be God Himself coming to live and ultimately die for us, to reconcile us all to God, for our salvation. Consider a song that highlights this moment in time:
When A Child Is Born
- A ray of hope flickers in the sky
- A tiny star lights up way up high
- All across the land dawns a brand new morn
- This comes to pass when a child is born
- A silent wish sails the seven seas
- The winds of change whisper in the trees
- And the walls of doubt crumble tossed and torn
- This comes to pass, when a child is born
- A rosy hue settles all around
- You got the feel, you’re on solid ground
- For a spell or two no one seems forlorn
- This comes to pass, when a child is born
And all of this happens, because the world is waiting. Waiting for one child; Black-white-yellow, no one knows…But a child that will grow up and turn tears to laughter, Hate to love, war to peace and everyone to everyone’s neighbor, And misery and suffering will be words to be forgotten forever.
- It’s all a dream and illusion now,
- It must come true sometime soon somehow,
- All across the land dawns a brand new morn,
- This comes to pass when a child is born.
With all of our failures and sin, of all the lessons that God shares with us, one of the most stunning, the most precious, is hope.
There is never a time when God has forgotten us. He always remembers and His promise always stands. For He is the author of hope.
We have so often turned away from God. We have imagined that there was not time enough in our lives for God. We have forgotten He is the author of hope.
So whether you are filled with joy and doing well, or you are struggling and miserable, remember the promise of God. For that child was born. He came to be your savior, to die for you. He came that you might one day go home with Him forever. He came that you might always have hope!
—Lester P. Bagley