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December 1, 2021 | By Jay Ashbaucher

The holy God of love, justice, grace, and mercy wrote a book to tell us the story of his created world. Following are five basic statements that tell God’s story: (1) God created the world and everything in it. All was good. (2) Through human choice, God’s good world has fallen into evil and ruin. (3) The key to restoring his world is God’s promised Savior. (4) In cooperation with people of faith, God is working his plan to defeat evil and restore his world to goodness. (5) Through the promised Savior, God is going to create a new and evil-free world of peace and righteousness. Here is how God’s story unfolds in human history.

Shortly after the first humans allowed evil to come into their world by failing to trust God’s word of warning, God gave them a promise. God promised to send a person to destroy the world’s source of evil, Satan, but God’s promised destroyer of evil would be wounded in the process (Genesis 3:15). Even though the details of this hope-filled news remained hidden, God’s plan of restoring all things was in motion and more details would be revealed as history marched on. One day God chose a man, Abram, and promised him that he would become a great nation and that through his offspring, all families of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:2-3). That nation from which this blessing of all people would come was Israel.

Much of God’s plan remained hidden until a man named Moses came along and God revealed through him a few more details. God told Moses that a prophet of Israel would come into the world who would speak God’s message and who everyone must listen to (Deuteronomy 18:18-19). God also told Moses that Israel was to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:6-7). The function of God’s priests was to be mediators helping people to discover forgiveness, oneness, and peace with God. Israel was not very faithful in this role, but from this nation, as revealed through later prophets, there would come a ruler who would have an eternal priesthood and who would serve as a faithful priest (Psalm 110:4; Zechariah 13:6). Another detail of God’s plan to restore his corrupted world was that Israel would eventually have kings to rule over his kingdom. Moses revealed God’s purpose to have a succession of righteous kings to rule over his kingdom, kings chosen by God who would learn God’s words, copy them, and live by them, creating a society of order, safety, righteousness, and peace for the nation’s citizens (Deuteronomy 17:14-20). Most of the kings failed in their God-ordained task, but a king would arise out of the nation who would forever rule the way God intended.

More details of God’s plan came through prophets whom God raised up to warn unbelieving Israel, as well as all non-Jewish people, to put their faith and hope in God, who would fulfill his promise to bless all the people of the earth. God’s promised king would accomplish all of God’s will and would come from Abraham’s descendants, from the tribe of Judah, a descendant of Israel’s king David, be born in a small Judean town of Bethlehem, and rule forevermore (Genesis 49:10; 2 Samuel 7:8-16; Micah 5:2; Isaiah 9:6-7). Much more was said about this coming king in the prophets’ messages. God would install his king in Jerusalem, give the nations as his inheritance, and the ends of the earth as his possession. All will worship and do homage to him (Psalm 2). He will be victorious over all who defy God’s plans to restore the world to peace (Zechariah 14:2-3, 9). God’s people in the Old Testament expected a warrior king to come and save them from their enemies and establish an earthly kingdom.

What the people did not expect was the hidden meaning of Christmas. It was true, the coming Savior would eventually be a victorious warrior in putting down all evil, but not before he would be a suffering servant of humankind who would die to save them from their sins and their rebellious, life-destructive ways. The plan of God included that the world’s Savior would be a priest, a mediator to bring people to experience peace and oneness with the God of love, justice, grace, and mercy. It was said of the One to come that he would be pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities. As one of God’s prophets revealed to us, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way, but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall upon him.” It was revealed in various Old Testament writings that God’s promised Savior would be killed and come back to life (Isaiah 53). Who was this promised person? When would he come?

As it turns out, this unidentified “he” who would crush the evil one as promised to the first humans; and this person promised to come from Abraham’s descendants who would bless the whole world; and this “son of king David”; and this servant who would die for others and come back to life again; would all be fulfilled in one person. He is God’s prophet, priest, and king; the promised person through whom the restoration of the world will happen (Acts 3:17-21). When this promised One was born, it was announced to his mother that he would be great, be called the Son of the Most High (God), and the Lord would give him the throne of his father David, and he would reign over the house of Jacob (Israel) forever, and his kingdom would have no end” (Luke 2:30-33). He was to be named “Jesus”, for he would save his people from their sins. He was also called “Immanuel”, which means, “God with us” (Matthew 1:21-23).

His identity, hidden for centuries, is now revealed. The good news announced by the prophets of old was that he was born, not just for Israel, but for all the people of the world. God’s prophet proclaimed, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns’” (Isaiah 52:7). The meaning of Christmas, hidden from people’s hearts and minds, is that all who trust in God and believe his promise, and who accept the promised one as their Lord and King, will be saved and have eternal life in God’s kingdom. Aspects of what God’s kingdom is like, a kingdom of love and peace and joy among people of all races is being lived out now through the people who truly believe and follow Christ; and yet, his kingdom, with its final promised freedom from all evil, is still to come. It will include a new earth where there is no more sickness and death. Just as the people of old expected, waited for, and believed the promise of a coming Savior, so people of this present day are to do the same. He is coming again! Let not the meaning of Christmas be hidden from your eyes so that you miss out on God’s glorious ending to his story.

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