“Twas the night before Christmas”
READ: Galatians 4:1-7 (Text v4)
There’s probably no one here who is not familiar with Clement Moore’s famous poem …
“Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.”
It’s become a traditional Christmas Eve piece. Perhaps some of you even read it to your children last night before they went to bed. I read it to our kids (I think I enjoyed it more than they did!)
The first line of that poem sparked my imagination, and got me thinking. “Twas the night before Christmas…” I began to think about the very first Christmas Eve. The night BEFORE Jesus was born in Bethlehem. What was happening in the world the night BEFORE He came?
The Bible tells us what it was like.
The Night BEFORE Jesus came:
1. The Curse Infested the Earth
In the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve chose their own rebellious way, and mankind fell from God’s grace and favour, the Bible says that God cursed the earth. (Genesis 3). Sin brought suffering, toil, difficulty, trouble, pain, and eventually death. Under the regime of sin, the earth brought forth weeds and briars amongst the crops, and Adam toiled the ground.
And that is the way it continued – century after century. And man’s sin spread and multiplied. The day before Jesus came, the curse infested the earth.
2. Heaven Was Silent
As history was written, prophets came – men of God with a word from Heaven. Elijah, Elisha … Isaiah, Jeremiah … Ezekiel, Daniel … men hearing from God. But then there was silence. The prophet Malachi closed off the sacred writings of the Old Testament, and then 400 silent years. People still came to the temples and synagogues … but there was no more revelation. After all man’s failure to meet God’s standard, perhaps He had abandoned us? Left us to our own doomed devices?
The day before Jesus came, Heaven was silent.
3. Men Were Looking for a Saviour
Way back in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve first sinned, God did not ONLY judge them. In His holiness He HAD to deal with sin, BUT he also gave a precious promise. A promise that those prophets reiterated time after time. The promise was of a coming Saviour. That God would not leave the earth under the curse. That He would not leave His creation to destruction – but He promised to send a deliverer – someone to make a way back to Eden … back to restored relationship with God.
And men knew the promise, and they looked for the Saviour.
- Some looked in sincerity for their promised Messiah
- Religious leaders looked for the proving of their theory
- Political activists looked for a hero to lead them
Mixed motives there were … but the day before Jesus came, men were looking for a Saviour.
4. God Was Checking His Watch
"When the fullness of the time had come"
- When the World was ready (The perfect moment of history - e.g. Pax Romana, etc)
- When Israel was ready (God’s timepiece)
BUT MOST SIGNIFICANTLY: