by Jeannette Haley
When I think of celebrating the birth of our Savior and Lord, so many things come to mind. I try to picture the awesomeness of the angel of the Lord coming upon the shepherds at night, and the glory of the Lord shining round about them. I can imagine how terrified they were at this unexpected sight as the angel told them, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” Matthew 2:10b,11. What an indescribable, electrifying sight it must have been as “…suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Verses 13, 14.)
There never has been, nor will there ever be, such a glorious announcement of the birth of a baby, for this was no ordinary baby, but God’s gift of his Son. The “glory of the Lord” that “shone around about them” which made them “sore afraid” is in reference to the Shekinah glory of God. To quote Kevin Howard, (Zion’s Fire, March-April 2010) “In the Hebrew Scriptures, the word “glory” (kavod) conveys the basic meaning of weight or heaviness….So in relation to God, God’s glory is His weight. It is everything about Him which impresses His creatures, and gives Him influence and honor with them….Throughout history, one way God manifested His glory was in the form of fire. Eyewitnesses described this glory-fire as a column of both fire and smoke.” He explains that the “Shekinah (dwelling) glory” indicated the dwelling of God’s presence in their midst.
We can read of God’s glory from Genesis to Revelation. A few examples are as follows: God manifested His glory to the nation of Israel in the wilderness (Exodus 13:20-22). Moses entered the Shekinah cloud where God revealed the Law to him (Exodus 24:16-18). The Lord went before Israel in the glory-fire (Exodus 13:21). The Lord came down in the glory-fire (Exodus 19:18; 34:5; Numbers 11:25; 12:5. See also Exodus 40 and 14; Deuteronomy 5:24; Psalm 99:7). The glory-fire covered the Tabernacle with a protective cloud of shade by day and an illuminating pillar of fire by night (Psalm 105:39; Numbers 9:15; 10:34). The Shekinah also was present in Leviticus 9:23-24; 2 Chronicles 7:1-3; Isaiah 6:4.
Howard explains, “The rabbis recognized that the Shekinah was deity and expressly bore God’s name (Exodus 23:21)” and that the “Shekinah glory and the Messiah are inseparably linked.” It is exciting to read his explanation of the star that the wise men from the east followed in search of the King of kings. Howard writes, “The wisemen also saw the Shekinah glory. The inspired text explains that they saw ‘his star in the east’(Matthew 2:2). These were not astrologers who saw a natural star or an alignment of planets by which they mystically deduced the birth of the Messiah. They saw the Shekinah glory (His ‘star’) in their homeland in the east. This brightness led them west and disappeared before they met with Herod in Jerusalem. Afterward, the brightness reappeared and led them five miles south to Bethlehem where it stood over the exact house of the Messiah (Matthew 2:9-10). This was no natural star. God led the wisemen with His Shekinah glory just as He led the Israelites in the wilderness….The Hebrew prophets predicted the return of the Shekinah glory over Israel (Isaiah 60:1-3). The Shekinah glory would attract Gentiles to Israel, bringing gifts of gold and incense (Isaiah 60:6). The wisemen properly understood that the Shekinah glory signified the Messiah’s coming, even as it will again at His return (Isaiah 66:18-19).”
Are you beginning to get a picture of the glory, power, and majesty of heaven that was manifested in theShekinah surrounding the birth of Christ? It is so much greater than we could ever comprehend or imagine. And, yet, with all this indescribable glory, the King of kings entered this world in a lowly stable. Shouldn’t a king, especially the King of kings, be born in a palace, surrounded by royalty, nobles, and dignitaries instead of poor shepherds who were occupied with tending their flocks? The key is Jesus was also the “Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” John 1:29b. Thus, what better place for a lamb to be born than in a stable, surrounded and adored by humble shepherds?
The Lord of glory came into the world wrapped in flesh and humility. His earthly mother and hard-working stepfather were ordinary citizens who went about their daily lives unnoticed and unknown by King Herod and his court. They were not influential in politics or government, yet God chose to entrust them with His only begotten Son. Even though Mary was of the legitimate lineage to produce the Messiah, if she had been arrogant, proud, and boastful, she would never have been chosen to bring forth the Christ child, for “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” James 4:6b. Mary herself said, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever” Luke 2:46-55.
From righteous Abel to Enoch, who walked with God, to Noah, a preacher of righteousness, to Abraham, the father of our faith, to Job, God’s servant, to Joseph who went from slavery to power, and the humble Moses, whom God used to deliver Israel and through whom He gave the Law, every one of them was great because they were humble. Of the humble women of faith, there are too many to list in this short space. But, the point is, God works His will and His ways through the men and women who truly possess a humble and believing heart.
In contrast to the lowliness of the Christ child, King Herod was consumed with pride, jealousy, and hatred. As with all lofty, evil, murdering kings, Herod “had his day” but it cost him his soul. Down through the ages, since the beginning of time, kings and rulers have come and gone. The identity of many has been lost to time, while others are well known. Whether they have been great and good, or tyrants and despots, all rulers are held in certain awe by the populations over which they rule and reign. History confirms that in their lofty position most ancient (and some not so ancient) kings and rulers were worshipped as divine beings, or gods.
Kings (or Presidents) who desire to be exalted and worshipped share the common ground of pride and arrogance. Like their father the devil, their goal is to rule over others with an iron fist of cruel control that breaks all resistance. While the heart of such a dictator may be hard and cold, never underestimate his or her ability to con and charm. Hitler was a “charmer” in his early days. Undoubtedly, this is the ploy used by the wicked King Herod upon his visitors from the east who came to him inquiring about the King of the Jews. We read in Matthew 2:7, 8,“Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.”
Fast forward to 2010 in America. It is no secret that Obama lusts after such adoration and exaltation for himself. The problem is there are still people on this earth who firmly believe in, know, and serve only the one true God, Creator of heaven and earth. These are they who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, and who are looking for the return of their King, Jesus Christ. Sealed by the Holy Spirit, these people know their God. They are the salt of the earth and the light of the world wherever they are to be found—the meek, who shall inherit the earth.
Consider this: Never before in the history of America has a President, and first lady, lavished as much “pomp and circumstance” upon themselves as has Obama and Michelle. Living like arrogant royalty, they regularly throw parties that could rival that of any royal court. The entire world has been taken aback by the entourage that travels with Obama on his overseas visits, while struggling Americans are outraged by the over-the-top wasteful spending for their many outlandish vacations. Considering the devastating economic situation of not only America, but the rest of the world, their insatiable appetite for the best the world has to offer is becoming a stench to people who live in the real world. It’s all rather reminiscent of the French King Louis XVI and his wife, Marie-Antoinette (although it is said that she was falsely accused of being a spendthrift). Her counterpart in the White House, however, is verifiably such.
As is the custom, as this year draws to a close, many are about to set aside a special time to celebrate the birth of Christ. And as we look back at that miraculous event 2,000 years ago, may we also look forward to the fulfillment of this promise, “And then [‘immediately after the tribulation’] shall appear the sign [Shekinah] of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” [Shekinah] Matthew 24:29a, 30. “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, [Shekinah] and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory [Shekinah]…” Matthew 25:31. Just as the heavens opened up to reveal the heavenly host, and the Shekinah of God to the shepherds, so shall the coming of the Lord be.
Who are we going to believe, adore, worship, and follow–world leaders or Christ the King? As it was in the days of the birth of Christ, so it is today. We all have a choice as to which “king” we will serve. Are you prepared to meet Him at His coming, or do you only think of him in a sentimental way as the sweet baby in the manger?
The truth is there have always been “two kings” to choose from that we will worship, honor, and obey. One will be lofty, and the other lowly. We have a choice between Jesus, or the “god of this world” who works through prideful, ungodly rulers and tyrants. There were two kings in David’s day–the prideful king Saul who was chosen by the people, and the humble David who was chosen by God and anointed by Samuel as king. The Herod’s ruled in Judea when Jesus lived. And, today, there are those in power who desire to be worshipped and adored. However, the real test will soon be on the scene. The antichrist will be manifested and demand the worship of the entire world.
Will you choose the true King of kings, and remain faithful to Him? Jesus warned, “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory [Shekinah] of his Father with the holy angels” Mark 8:38.
Let us draw near to Him in humility and adoration, for He shall keep His promises to be with us “even unto the end of the world.” Those who belong to Him can indeed look up, “for [our] redemption draweth nigh” knowing that,“when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” 1 John 3:2b.