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

   by Jeannette Haley

It’s hard to believe that the year 2000 is nearly over! It came in with a bang, but only God knows how it will go out. We must admit, there has been much foolishness exhibited in the world this past year. It is no secret that unregenerate man’s lust, greed, self-centeredness, ungodliness, hatred and wickedness has accelerated. All this is in fulfillment of scriptures such as 2 Timothy 3-4; 1 and 2 Peter; Mark 13 and so forth.

Yet every year in December most of the world pauses to celebrate Christmas. While studious Christians realize that Christmas and its symbols is basically pagan in origin, they nevertheless choose to celebrate Jesus’ birth at this time of the year. It’s not that true believers worship the day for none of us knows the exact day of Christ’s birth. Rather, we choose to celebrate the fact that God sent His Son, born of a virgin, at exactly the time He predetermined before the foundations of the world. (Ephesians 1:4; Matthew 13:35;25:34; John 17:24; 1 Peter 1:20; 1 Corinthians 2:7; Titus 1:2.)

To ignore the birth of Christ not only dismisses the many scriptures that portray details of His first advent, but denies Jesus’ very existence in the flesh.

The historical fact cannot be denied that Jesus was born of a virgin, that He did come in the flesh and that He was God Incarnate. The Bible warns us, “For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist” 2 John 7.

Prayerful contemplation of the Bible characters at the time of the birth of Christ and His early childhood reveals many interesting parallels to the world we live in today. For example, the Virgin Mary was the woman foretold in Genesis 3:15 whose seed would bruise the head of the serpent (Satan). Mary was God’s chosen vessel – a humble, godly woman. Mary said, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour” Luke 1:46-47. From these two verses we learn that Mary knew her Sovereign Creator (Lord) and that He was exalted in her heart. Her spirit also rejoiced in God, her Savior. We see that Mary not only proclaimed God’s Lordship over her life, but that she needed God as her personal Savior. Mary was submissive, sweet, obedient, and wise and she knew God and His ways. (See Luke 1:46-55.)

Mary is an example of those obscure, quiet servants of the Lord Jesus who have chosen to follow Him on the narrow way. Today’s disciples of Jesus choose to remain in the background rather than seek to be in the limelight where touching God’s glory is an ever-present temptation. While in the religious world an escalating number of people clamor for the “chief seat”, the Spirit of God is calling the foolish, weak, base and despised to do His will. (See 1 Corinthians 1:25-31.)

God is looking for people through whom He can show Himself strong in a day and age when people are seeking ways to use God to show themselves strong.

Joseph likewise is an example of a righteous and obedient servant of the Lord. He was an honorable man—a man of character and integrity who obeyed the angelic visions rather than give way to the letter of the Law and the cultural dictates of His day. Because of his unwavering faith and trust in the Lord, God guided Joseph every step of the way. Joseph, like Mary, portrays true Christianity through his faith, obedience, wisdom and humility. Paul wrote in Romans 12:3, “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”

Neither Joseph nor Mary sought great things for themselves. Neither exalted themselves into a “great ministry” to be seen of men, yet theirs was a truly “great ministry” in that they were entrusted with the Son of God. What a vivid contrast to today’s pompous braggarts who strut and prance in front of millions of deluded “Christians” with “itching ears” who are more than willing to pour their allegiance and money out for naught. The Word of God guarantees that they shall have their reward.

The innkeeper was not necessarily a wicked man, nor are we told that he was a righteous man. What we do know is that he was a businessman! He represents the indifferent economic system of today that cannot tolerate being inconvenienced by God. People who get caught up in the pursuit of success in the business world have little time for God and/or the things of God. They may give lip service to God at weddings or funerals and the like; they may even attend church services on Christmas and Easter. They will most likely join one of the esoteric secret societies, such as the Masons, and consider their “religious” duty fulfilled when all the while such diabolical fraternities only serve to advance their own business standing in the community. The “innkeeper focus” is on income statements and Wall Street. They could care less if God silently and miraculously passes through their midst as long as He doesn’t upset their profits. These people are independent of God and dependent upon themselves and their bank accounts. In short, this is idolatry.

Are there people in this category today who call themselves Christians? You better believe there are! These are they who have placed their faith in riches rather than in God who supplies all our needs. God calls it “covetousness, which is idolatry” Colossians 3:5.

It is a fearful thing to be rich in that which is passing away and impoverished in those things that are eternal.

The heretical “prosperity preachers” are as strong as ever, (because so-called Christians keep them going with their misplaced offerings) even though the Bible warns, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness” 1 Timothy 6:6-11.

We cannot contemplate the events surrounding the birth of Christ without thinking of King Herod. Like so many rulers and political leaders of our day, this despot was totally lacking in integrity and character. Wicked to the core, he lacked any inclination to seek after the Giver of Life. Truth was not something Herod could tolerate. The only record we have of Herod searching for information on the Christ child is for the purpose of destroying Him.

The shepherds are a type of the working people—people who are close to the land and who work hard to make a living. Unlike the prosperous businessmen, these herdsmen lived a less complicated life. They had little opportunity to “move up the social and economic scale” but they definitely had more time to reflect on God and creation. It was to such simple people that the heavenly messengers appeared on that night so long ago.

I believe one reason God chose to first bring “good tidings of great joy” to the shepherds is because these men were faithful. Consider this, they were keeping watch over their flocks by night. God’s shepherds today are those who likewise keep diligent watch over His sheep in these dark times. Keeping watch can be a tedious, thankless, exhausting job. Most Christians today shun any type of daily drudgery that requires faithfulness. Rather, they run to and fro, sign seeking. Yet to such people no sign shall be given except those that are “lying signs and wonders“. Jesus warned in Matthew 24:24, “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

The faithful shepherds were given the greatest sign of all—the baby Jesus! God Incarnate!

And after this, they gave testimony to others. In other words, God can use such people because they have proven to be faithful in the small things-in the everyday things. Therefore, they were entrusted with the message that the Christ child had been born.

Herod represents the wicked political systems and worldly kingdoms of today. Their goal is power regardless of how much human misery and suffering is involved. Herod could tolerate “religion” as long as it posed no threat to his control and power. Murdering the innocents from two years old and downward meant nothing to this evil king just as abortion today means nothing to those who promote it and participate in it. Women (and men as well) who have no natural affection for their unborn children are a fulfillment of prophecy that states that in the end times people will lack “natural affection” 2 Timothy 3:3a. Jesus also said in Matthew 24:12, “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

Herod is also an example of the rise of false prophets in these latter days. Like Herod, false prophets and false Christs (“anointed ones”) must be in control. This is the first indication of a cult mentality—control. Like Herod, false prophets fear losing their position of power and influence over people’s lives, and like Herod false prophets become fearful, angry and paranoid. They subtly indoctrinate their deluded followers until they no longer look to Jesus, but to the wolf in sheep’s clothing. Like Herod, they can’t stand competition of any kind; therefore, false prophets and teachers always take the place of Christ in people’s lives by exalting themselves into that position. Like Herod, they cannot tolerate anyone questioning their authority, doctrines, teachings or demands. Everyone must line up—or else!

False prophets and teachers are also murderers of their “innocent” followers because they put their souls in jeopardy of eternal hellfire.

God has this to say about the Herods and false prophets and teachers: “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not” 2 Peter 2:1-3.

Last, but not least, are the three Wise Men. Wise because they had been waiting and watching for God’s promise; wise because they diligently sought the Christ child. These three men represent the believer who will settle for nothing less than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. They represent the wise Christian who refuses to settle for substitutes of endless church programs, church entertainment, religious activities and man-made doctrines for the living Christ.

The Wise Men were wise because they brought the very best to the Savior and held back nothing for themselves. They were wise because they allowed the Spirit to lead them to the knowledge of Jesus’ identity, that is, the Son of God. And they were especially wise because they obeyed God when He warned them not to return to Herod. One can only wonder where the Wise Men are today who will obey God rather than submit to the Herods of this world?

“The Wise Men showed great integrity and character by returning to their own land rather than stick around to be part of a “great ministry”.

Bluntly, there is a great lack of wisdom today in the church. Where oh where are those wise ones who refuse, like Mary and Joseph, to partake of the idolatry of self-importance? Or refuse to become swept away with the idolatry of the prosperity doctrines? Where are those Christians who will stand up and expose the idolatrous Herodian false prophets and teachers?

How about you?