Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

   by Jeannette Haley

“For he shall stand at the right hand
of the poor, to save him from those that
condemn his soul” – Psalm 109:31

       How should a king come? The kings (and presidents) of the earth, who make their entrance with much “pomp and circumstance,” would say that it should be as grand and glorious as possible. Through the centuries, the appearance of kings has always been an extravagant affair. All except for one King, that is. Slipping silently into this dark world one lonely night, his birth was unannounced to the Roman Empire, or even king Herod. Instead, heavenly angels brought news of His coming to humble shepherds keeping watch over their sheep.

       Thus, even though heavenly messengers appeared announcing His birth, their visitation came to the common person—people who were ordinary, unknown, unrecognized, and unnamed in the scheme of things. However, these were the very people whom God had chosen from before the foundations of the world to bring the message of “tidings of great joy.”

       Even two years after His birth, His whereabouts were unknown to the leaders of Israel when kings from the east inquired about Him in Jerusalem. Again, it was a private occasion. After the wise kings bowed before the King of kings, they quietly vanished into the desert sands, and out of the pages of history.

       The earthly environment into which Jesus came was one of great darkness for the people of Israel, both spiritually and nationally. “The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up” Matthew 4:16. There had been no prophet or “voice” in Israel for four centuries. But, God’s promises and plans never fail, and so “when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” Galatians 4:4,5.

       Israel had not yet regained its own sovereignty, and remained a puppet state under the dominant power of Rome. However, they did have a king, Herod the Great. This situation was a vexing one for the Israelites, for Herod was a descendant of Esau instead of Jacob. Equally distressing was the fact that the high priests who sat in religious authority were not descendants of Aaron. They were, instead, hired priests to whom the office was sold as political patronage.

       The people of that day who had “eyes to see” and “ears to hear” understand that there were three ways of discerning the time in which Jesus was born. These were by prophecies, the angelic announcement from heaven, and the visible sign in heaven (His star.) Together, these produced a powerful witness of the “fullness of the time.” Concerning prophecies, the prophet Micah pinpointed the location of the Messiah’s birth: “But, thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” Micah 5:2. The prophet Daniel prophesied the time of His birth (Daniel 9:25). Isaiah prophesied of His virgin birth in Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign: Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Jeremiah prophesied of the massacre of the infants that took place when King Herod sent his soldiers to slaughter the children in his madness to kill the newborn king of the Jews. (See Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 2:16.) Hosea prophesied of the flight into Egypt. (See Hosea 11:1; Matthew 2:14-23.) These are just a few of the prophecies that Jesus fulfilled. In fact, the entire Old Testament points to Christ.

       Concerning the angelic announcement of Christ’s birth, the fact that the angels announced the “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” to shepherds, “common working people,” rather than to the religious or political leaders is consistent with God’s ways. He is no respecter of persons, and He entrusts His holy messages, wisdom, and revelations to the lowliest of men, women, and yes, even children. 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 gives us insight that few heed in this age of self-aggrandizement and hero worship. It says, “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.”

       Can you just imagine what the outcome would have been if God had assigned the angels to announce Christ’s birth to the religious leaders? If they were anything like the “big shots” in churchianity today, they would have exploited this glorious event for all it was worth. Big names, big churches, big following, and big bucks. But, not so with the faithful shepherds. Instead of exalting themselves, they believed God, hurried to find the Christ child, and then they “made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child” so that those “that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds” Luke 2:17, 18. God knows whom He can entrust with the riches of heaven.

       We can only imagine how disastrous it would have been if the angels had appeared to wicked King Herod, or the ruling powers of Rome. We already know King Herod’s response, two years later, when he heard that a king had been born. Much like the ungodly leaders of today who will stop at nothing to eradicate Christ from everything public and private, he sought to destroy the heavenly king. A host of angels would mean little, if anything, to such a hardened heart. After all, the problem with the corruption in high places these days is not because of disbelief in God, but because of direct, deliberate defiance and rebellion against Him. Psalm 2 sums up our day well. It reads, “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.” Take time to read the rest of this Psalm (with Revelation 17:14; 19-22). It will encourage your heart.

       Concerning the star that guided the wise men from the East to the birthplace of the Son of God, we need to distinguish the signs that God gives us in the heavens from the pagan craft of astrology. Christians have become so leery of anything to do with “signs in the sky” (which is most certainly understandable) that they have closed down altogether towards much that is revealed in the Bible concerning such signs. God did not establish the practice of astrology when He spoke these words: “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years” Genesis 1:14. In this verse, the word signs is in the sense of appearing, a signal, as a flag, beacon, monument, omen, prodigy, or evidence. King Darius declared, “He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions” Daniel 6:27. Jesus, when revealing events to take place in the end days, said, “And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven” Luke 21:11. [Emphasis added.] The wise men from the East understood perfectly God’s heavenly sign that He had sent His Son into the world, or they never would have confidently undertaken such an arduous journey.

       Thus we see that God chose a humble, obedient virgin and the upright Joseph, hard-working, humble shepherds, as well as wise strangers, albeit kings, from the east to be forever part of the wondrous Christ child’s entrance into this world. Born in a stable instead of a palace, and brought up in the home of a carpenter, the young Jesus, unlike princes and kings of this world, was content with His commonplace life.

       God is a God of order. Therefore, it is no surprise that the events surrounding Jesus’ return in power and great glory will not only fulfill hundreds of Scriptures, but also will likewise involve angels and signs in the heavens as Matthew 24:30 (and other Scriptures, especially the Book of Revelation, declares.) Jesus gave specific details of His return in these end days for those with understanding. Consider Matthew 24:37-39, “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” If we go back to the Book of Genesis, we gain this insight about these ancient times: “and God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” Genesis 6:5.

       Some may wonder what these verses have to do with the times in which we live. We need to recognize the fact that “eating and drinking” does not refer to the normal, everyday life of people, but to excessive works of the flesh. “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness [impurity], lasciviousness [filthy, debauchery], Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance [contention, debate], emulations [envy], wrath, strife, seditions [disunion], heresies [rebellion]. Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings [rioting], and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” Galatians 5:19-21. We also know that God ordained marriage between a man and a woman; therefore, Jesus is not talking about the normal state of marriage that God established. Rather, Jesus was comparing the days prior to His coming with the days that brought down God’s judgment upon the entire earth except for Noah and his family. In those pre-flood days, mankind’s spiritual and moral decline was so great that every imagination and secret thoughts were completely and continually evil. Evil embodies extreme vileness, perversion and rebellion against all that is holy, righteous, upright, pure, godly, honorable, and normal (natural) as created, and established, by God.

       We can draw many similarities between the present national and international scene and the time when Jesus was born. When He came, in the darkness of night, the whole world lay in great spiritual darkness. (See Luke 2:79.) The Roman Empire demanded loyalty to Caesar and their many pagan gods and goddesses. King Herod was merely a territorial king under Roman rule—a puppet king. The current leader with the title of “President” in America is, like Herod, merely a puppet for the globalists. He has yet to prove that he is indeed a true American and not an imposter. He has admitted on more than one occasion that he is a Muslim, and every policy he has put forth is destructive and anti-American. Comparing Herod with our current world scene we see where millions idolize ungodly leaders in both “church and state,” looking to the “arm of flesh” to save or deliver them from their many woes. Matthew 25:1-13 reveals that it will be “midnight” or a time of great darkness when Christ shall suddenly appear. Matthew 24:29, 30 also speaks of that time of darkness when He returns. The situation in America alone should provide ample warning to the Laodicean church that our days are numbered in more ways than one. The world is being plunged by Satan into great spiritual darkness through his false prophets, heresies, and lies as he works to deceive the nations into worshipping him through the antichrist’s one-world government while the organized Church sleeps on.

       The Bible leaves no doubt as to the many signs that will point to His return as King of kings and Lord of lords. Just as the star shone upon the place where He lived with His earthly parents, so shall His sign appear in heaven just prior to His return. (See Matthew 24:30.) As the heavenly host appeared to the shepherds, announcing His birth, so too shall angels be involved in His second coming. (See Revelation 14:6-20.) Finally, just as He came to “preach the gospel to the poor…heal the brokenhearted,” deliver the captives, recover the sight of the blind, and set at liberty those who were bruised, so shall He “wipe away all tears from their [the redeemed] eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain….” (See Luke 4:18; Revelation 21:4.)

       As we celebrate and remember His first coming, may we also look up, and rejoice in His soon return for us who love Him and His appearing! “Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus” Revelation 22:20.