Summary: Christmas sermon that explores the unusual way God does things in his world.
Christmas Eve / Day 2000
Do You Hear God’s Voice This Christmas Eve?
God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding.
--NIV Job 37:5
Dear friends in Christ, who have come to worship the newborn King:
Do you hear God’s voice this Christmas Eve?
I confess that I’ve often heard voices in the night. At one time it was often the voice of one of my daughters, waking up either me or my wife because she needed a drink of water, or was scared of the thunderstorm. I’ve heard the voice of my wife saying, “It’s your turn.” Lately it’s been the voices of my sons – Daniel, who can’t sleep due to illness, or the voice of our infant son Joseph, crying in the night because those are the only ‘words’ he knows.
In the still of Christmas night, a small infant voice also softly pierced the air, coming from a stable somewhere inside Bethlehem. I doubt if it woke anyone up, or even spooked the animals in the barn, for that matter. No one was really listening for it either, except the young couple – Mary and Joseph – whose lives had radically changed in the past few months. It was the voice of a newborn baby, and that voice undoubtedly brought tears of joy to his parent’s eyes.
But even more marvelous to us, that baby’s voice was more than the voice of Mary and Joseph’s firstborn son; it was the voice of God himself.
What a contrast that voice was to the word of God before us this evening: GOD’S VOICE THUNDERS IN MARVELOUS WAYS…
A baby’s cry! Who would have thought it! For God had never, ever talked that way before. In fact, when we go back to the Old Testament, there were so many other times when he actually did thunder from heaven, and his thundering filled people with fear. We think of when God confronted Adam, and later Cain, after he had murdered his brother Abel. God spoke, and there was fear. We think of the Flood, the universal destruction of all living things except for Noah, his family, and the life he carried in the ark. Then there was both thunder and lightning and torrential rain as God judged the world for their sins. We think of the thundering power in God’s voice as Ps. 46 tells us: HE LIFTS HIS VOICE, AND THE EARTH MELTS.
But in all the Old Testament we especially think of when God descended in a fiery cloud to the top of Mt. Sinai to give the Ten Commandments. We usually think that Moses went up the mountain and got the Ten Commandments from God; that’s true, and he eventually did. But when God first gave the Ten Commandments his voice spoke them directly from heaven to the people of Israel below. There was fire. There was lightning. The earth shook and the archangel was blasting his trumpet. God’s voice spoke the Ten Commandments, and the Bible tells us that even Moses – to say nothing of everyone else – was quaking with fear.
But that’s what God’s voice in his message of the law is like, and it fills us with fear. Job found that out. You remember how Job had suffered disaster after disaster, and endured more personal tragedy than all of us here combined. That all happened to a righteous believer, a devout believer in the one true God. Job had three friends who showed up to comfort him, but ended up accusing him of committing some secret, unspeakable sin that caused God’s wrath to fall upon him. But in defending himself, Job did slip into sin; he came to the conclusion that God was unjust and he, because he had led such a good life, didn’t deserve any of the evil that was happening to him. He dug in his heels and accused God of being unfair. Job’s friend, Elihu (who spoke the words of our text) tried to warn him that God’s ways and power are far beyond man’s, and it isn’t wise to accuse him of wrongdoing. Job stood firm in his self-righteousness.
But then God himself showed up to speak with Job. One chapter after our text a thunderstorm rolls in, and God was in the storm. He called Job on the carpet and demanded repentance, for he had sinned.
Would you have liked to have been Job? Ahhh, but we all are Job! For God still thunders, through his voice of the law, calling each of us on the carpet to give an account of our life and to repent of our sins. Can we stand before him? He has commanded us to be HOLY, and we are not. He has commanded that we love him with our whole heart and soul and mind, and love our neighbor more than we love ourselves. And we have not. And often like Job, we think God owes us. We think God mistreats us. In our hearts we accuse him of dealing unfairly with us, and in sinful pride believe we haven’t deserved any of it. Will God show up again, in answer to our sins?