Monday, December 13, 2010

Three Snapshots of Christmas

The same Christmas story.
3 different authors.
3 different books of the Bible.

"Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. . . . For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 7:14, 9:6

"...the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. [Mary] wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.'" Luke 2:6-11

"A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman . . . was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and several crowns on his head. . . . The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter." Revelation 12:1-5

One story. The same story. Three perspectives. I didn't realize the Revelation snapshot told the story of Jesus (now I do! thanks to Pastor Eric's sermon a week ago). I can now visualize the scene of Jesus' birth with the "veil" pulled back and the spiritual realm visible. It's a parallel manger scene. The unseen side of Christmas - no one usually mentions a seven-headed dragon when describing the lowly stable, fluffy sheep, and sleepy shepherds!

Pastor Eric shared that the Revelation 12 passage helps us realize two things.

1. Why life feels so much like a grinding battle.

Because it is a battle. Read the rest of the story: "When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. . . . Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring - those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus." Revelation 12: 13-17

Could this possibly explain some of our struggles in life? Why is so hard to continue to do good? Why does life feel like a storm? Why does gaining righteousness seem so impossible? Why does living for Christ feel like pressing against a brick wall? Because of Revelation 12, that's why.

2. What weapons we need to become skilled/comfortable handling.

Would you consider going into an earthly battle with no armor? And what about weapons? Even if you had a weapon, would you actually know how to fire a gun properly? I certainly wouldn't go into battle without armor and I most certainly wouldn't consider using a weapon without some training & skill! Why is it, then, that I even consider going up against such a foe as a seven-headed dragon without armor or weapons!? I need to be skilled in spiritual battle, knowing how to handle the weapons God has given to us:

Take up the sword of the Spirit - be deeply immersed in the Word of God and know it.
Pray in the Spirit - live from your knees. (see Ephesians 6:11-18)

Between Jesus' birth and "we win" we are at war with a seven-headed dragon, Satan, the devil himself. He's coming after anyone "who obeys God's commandments and holds to the testimony of Jesus." This puts a new spin on Christmas, doesn't it? From a Revelation 12 perspective, Christmas isn't just about manger scenes or angels singing or stars in the sky. Christmas signals the start of war.

Source: Pastor Eric's sermon at Eagle Church, December 5, 2010. It's a good one! Listen here.

3 comments:

  1. That's wild! I just included that concept (Rev 5) in my sermon yesterday! I agree--I don't normally think of Christmas as a pivotal point in a war, but that's how radical the incarnation is!

    Brad

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  2. This is like the 5th time in the last month that I have read the Rev. 12 passage--each time from a different source! (Brad's sermon was the 4th time!:)) Yes, understanding this war certainly changes the perspective of Christmas, but definitely in a good way! It makes me understand more fully what Jesus came to do and the fact that He did it for me--ungrateful, complacent, grace-abuser me. Wow. Very humbling and that understanding causes me to love Jesus in a new way.

    Thanks for sharing this, Jana.

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  3. Yes...the incaration is a radical & powerful event indeed! And it does cause me to love & revere Him more. Thanks for the comments!
    Jana

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