Summary: This message combines the story of King Herod with the passage in Revelation 12 relating the on going "cosmic combat" between God and Satan. The inspiration came from the cover of Christianity Today December 12,1994.
December 28, 2008
Christmas II Redeemer
Text Revelation 12:1-7a
Jesus Christ is born. The arrival of Jesus as an infant in Bethlehem means that God has kept his promise of salvation which he first made to Adam and Eve. The ringing of Christmas bells, the joyful birth of the Savior proclaims that sin, death and Satan’s reign is done. Their hold is broken.
Do you like bad things? Of course you don’t. We try to forget bad things, but the world revels in bringing us bad news. Modern technology has stretched the limit so that we might have a ringside seat as the bad news unfolds before our eyes. If there is difficulty anywhere, camera crews are dispatched with speed to bring us “on the spot” coverage of things that shock and sadden.
We saw people jump from buildings when the twin towers were burning. We see floods with people on the roofs of their homes, tornadoes leveling towns. There are even shows dedicated to tornado chasers. We are becoming addicted to reality shows, Survivor, Wife Swap, Dancing with the Stars, American Idol and police car chases and convenience store shootouts. And then when you’ve seen it all, they’ll replay it again and again in slow motion.
We try to forget bad things. But if you are old enough, you can probable recall where you were when President Kennedy was shot. I was a freshman in high school, history class with Dr. Grothous. I can remember the school President coming into the classroom to make the announcement. We remember where we were when the Challenger exploded.
You may even be able to remember the taunts and teasing’s of class mates in grade school, or times when you were left out, or picked last for the team. Maybe you remember the girl who laughed when you asked her for a date. You may remember sitting at home on the night of the prom. We do remember bad things. We all have our list.
Why do we remember bad things? Why does the world news report the bad? There is an answer. The answer is simple. It is sin. The world God created was perfect. Adam and Eve were placed into a perfect garden and given love, acceptance and all they needed to live.
Satan not only rebelled against God but he began to find ways to destroy what God had created good. Satan convinced Adam and Eve that God was holding out on them. He convinced them they would be like God if they at from the Tree of Knowledge Good and Evil. There are religions who still offer the same false promise.
Harmony became hatred. Peace became powerful passions for evil and death began to rule, which brings me to the cover of our bulletin. The cover of our bulletin is from the December 12, 1994 issue of Christianity Today. It is one of my favorite pieces of art work in my files. I have been waiting since 1994 for just such a moment as this.
I have never seen this picture as a Christmas card. This cover is based on Revelation 12. John gives us a glimpse of Christmas from God’s point of view.
Revelation 12 is radically different than the familiar Christmas story in the Gospel of Luke. Revelation does not mention the shepherds nor the jealous King Herod who sought to kill the infant Jesus after the visit of the Wise men.
The woman is clothed with the sun, wearing a crown of 12 stars and she cries out in pain as she is about to give birth. Suddenly, the enormous dragon enters the picture sweeping a third of the stars out of the sky. The Red dragon is eager to devour the child the moment it is born. At the last second the woman flees, the infant is saved, and an all out cosmic war begins.
In daily life, two parallel histories occur a the same time, one on earth and one in heaven. Revelation 12 allows us a brief look behind the scenes at the cosmic war between God and Satan over God’s plan to redeem humanity and destroy Satan’s grasp on the human heart.
The woman, clothed in the sun with the moon under her feet, surrounded by 11 stars is a direct reference to a dream Joseph had.
In Genesis 37:9-11 Joseph had another dream… “I saw the sun and moon and eleven stars bow down ….to me.” When he told his father this dream his father Jacob was very upset. He said: “Will your mother (the moon) and I (the sun) and your brothers (11 stars) bow down to you?”
What was the name God gave to Jacob? It was Israel. The woman on our cover represents the nation of Israel, through whom the Messiah was to come. The child to be born was Jesus.