Summary: This is the fourth message in a series based on some of the most popular Christmas hymns.
“O Holy Night” is of the most beautiful and favorite songs that tells of the Savior’s birth in Bethlehem. What many people don’t realize is that the combined talents of three much unexpected people brought us this song. In fact, this song is the result of the work a wine merchant, a penniless French composer and a liberal American preacher. The song began as a poem written in 1847 by a French wine merchant named Placide Clappeau whose hobby was writing poetry. The music was written by a French composer named Adolphe Charles Adam who wrote thirty-nine operas during his lifetime. Adam became penniless late in his life due to a failed business venture involving the French national opera. This French carol was discovered and translated into English by a Unitarian minister by the name of John Dwight. Ultimately Dwight would leave the ministry due to his increasingly liberal views and begin a career in music journalism. The main question that comes to mind when we think of that night more than 2,000 years ago the main question is, “What made this night any more holier than any other night during the time Jesus walked on this earth?” Before me examine the message of this great Christmas Carol I believe it would be very appropriate to get more familiar with the term “holy” as it is used in the Bible. So let’s turn to the pages of Scripture and examine what we can learn from this timeless classic, “O Holy Night!”
I. Understanding what Scripture means when it uses the term holy.
A. The use of the term in the Old Testament.
1. The Hebrew word is qadash which means to seat apart, consecrate or dedicate.
2. This word appears fifty-seven times in the Old Testament.
3. The world is used of course to describe God’s character showing that He is set apart from the world.
4. The word is used to describe things that are set apart to be used for worship and in the service of the temple.
5. The word is used in connection with the Sabbath showing that God established it and set it apart.
6. The word is also used to describe how God chose the nation of Israel and set them apart to be His exclusive people.
B. The use of the term in the New Testament.
1. The Greek word is hagios which means set apart or sacred.
2. This word appears two-hundred-thirty-two times in the New Testament.
3. The word is used to establish anything that is connected with God.
a. The Christian who are His chosen people in the New Testament.
b. His Spirit.
c. The Church that He established.
4. The word is also is used to describe anything that God chooses to set apart for His exclusive purposes.
5. The word is also used to describe the type of life that a Christian should strive to live.
II. This night in Bethlehem ushered in a new era for humanity.
A. This new era would bring with it a solution to mankind’s greatest problem.
1. Since man first disobeyed God in the garden all of humanity had been cursed with sin.
2. In fact Paul writes in his letter to the Romans of the universality of sin.
3. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23—NIV 2011)
4. The problem of sin destroyed man’s relationship with God and man could do nothing to solve this problem.
5. When Gabriel told Mary what the child’s name would be, he announced the solution to the problem. His name would be Jesus which means “Yahweh saves.”
6. Paul sums this up in the verse that follows the one we just read.
7. And all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:24—NIV 2011)
8. Just as God had led His people out of slavery in Egypt, this era would be marked by God leading His people out of their slavery to sin.
B. This era would mark the beginning of a new relationship between man and God.
1. The intimate relationship that mankind enjoyed with their Creator was destroyed by sin.
2. However, immediately after mankind sinned God set into motion His plan to restore His broken relationship with His creation.
3. This child’s very name as we mentioned earlier puts the spotlight on God’s intention of restoring this relationship.
4. Christmas should remind us that each one of us matter to God and the depth of His love for us goes beyond our ability to comprehend.
5. God would take us from slavery and adopt us into His family giving us the promise of a life with Him that would last forever.
III. The child born on this night would be unlike any child that would ever be born.