Summary: Jesus became a man to deliver us from God's wrath. His birth does speak of divine justice, of heavenly mercy and God's love. But, that love delivers us from judgement. If we reject the love of God in Christ the Lord, nothing remains but God's wrath.

“I will tell of the decree:

The LORD said to me, ‘You are my Son;

today I have begotten you.

Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,

and the ends of the earth your possession.

You shall break them with a rod of iron

and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’

Now therefore, O kings, be wise;

be warned, O rulers of the earth.

Serve the LORD with fear,

and rejoice with trembling.

Kiss the Son,

lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,

for his wrath is quickly kindled.

Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” [1]

Christmas, and our thoughts turn automatically to … God’s wrath? God’s wrath? What? What sort of Christmas message would focus on God’s wrath? What sort of cruel hoax would lead a minister of God to speak of divine wrath on the Sunday before Christmas? Shouldn’t we be thinking of gaily wrapped presents, of Scots pine trees decorated with tinsel and gaily coloured orbs, and the tintinnabulation of bells. Shouldn’t we be thinking of tables groaning under the weight of platters of delectable dishes waiting to be enjoyed by families gathered to the feast? Shouldn’t we be encouraging the warm feelings that accompany families gathering for a joyous day of laughter and the exchange of gifts?

All the warm, fuzzy feelings that we associate with thoughts of Christmas arise from a story without biblical basis. Jesus’ birth meant sorrow for many in Israel; and His presence means pain and sorrow for many to this day.. We forget Jesus’ words, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me” [MATTHEW 10:34-38].

We forget the stern warning voiced by old Simeon when Joseph and Mary brought the newborn babe to Jerusalem to be circumcised. Holding the babe, Simeon prophesied, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed” [LUKE 2:34-35].

The birth of this child would mean sorrow throughout the region around Bethlehem. Herod was furious because of the birth of this child, and he ordered the murder of multiple infants because of Jesus. Thus, we read of the king’s fury in Matthew’s account of the birth of the Saviour, “Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

‘A voice was heard in Ramah,

weeping and loud lamentation,

Rachel weeping for her children;

she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.’”

[MATTHEW 2:16-18]

The heartbreak of mothers and fathers helplessly witnessing the murder of infant sons would be felt throughout all Judea, and perhaps beyond. The birth of this one child would mean grief, unimaginable sorrow, horror at the anguish His presence would bring.


“I will tell of the decree:

The LORD said to me, ‘You are my Son;

today I have begotten you.

Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,

and the ends of the earth your possession.

You shall break them with a rod of iron

and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’”

[PSALM 2:7-9]

The decree of the LORD, delivered in this Psalm, though often ignored, is nevertheless recognised throughout Christendom as pointing to Christ. Some might imagine it speaks of David, but we pastors are well-nigh universally agreed that this decree is to be applied to the Son of God. We teach the doctrine and we would argue that we are obedient to the implications of what the LORD has said through the Psalmist. However, at the practical level, we who are called by the Name of the Saviour struggle to put into practise what is taught.

In order to examine the verity of this assertion, join me in teasing apart what the LORD has declared in this decree. As we open our consideration today, observe first that the decree identifies Someone as the LORD’s Son. To assure ourselves who the Son of the LORD might be, we appeal to the Word. In the pages of Scripture, we discover Who it is that should be recognised as the Son of the LORD. Throughout the pages of the New Testament, the Son of God is identified. One prominent example of this identification is given in the opening words of Paul’s letter to the saints in Rome. “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord” [ROMANS 1:1-4].

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