Summary: The Bible tells us that the Gospel was preached first to the Jews. Why would they get first crack at salvation? And what can this mean to us?
OPEN BY READING from Luke 2:8-15
"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
Now for a quiz:
Where did the angels come from?
(From Heaven. From God.)
God’s up in heaven right?
But back in 1962 Cosmonaut Gherman Titov was visiting in Seattle after having just returned from space, and he said “Sometimes people are saying that God is out there. I was looking around attentively all day but I didn’t find anybody there. I saw neither angels nor God."
Hearing about Titov’s comment that he hadn’t seen God in space, one man quipped:
"Had he stepped out his space suit he would have!"
Centuries ago, the psalmist said: "The heavens declare the glory of God." (Psalm 19:1)
And over the centuries there are many people who have believed, that the closer they get to the heavens, the closer they could get to God.
And that’s no less true of astronauts.
· Frank Borman (for example) was commander of the 1st space crew to travel in space. As he looked down on the earth Borman radioed back a message, quoting Genesis 1: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."
As he later explained, "I had an enormous feeling that there had to be a power greater than any of us - that there was a God, that there was indeed a beginning."
· James Irwin walked on the moon in 1971 and later became a preacher. He often described the lunar mission as a revelation. In his words, "I felt the power of God as I’d never felt it before."
· And Charles Duke, who also walked on the moon, later became active in missionary work. As he explained, "I make speeches about walking ON the moon and walking WITH the Son."
· When John Glenn made his final trip to space aboard the Discovery spacecraft he looked down on the earth and said: "To look out at this kind of creation and not believe in God is to me impossible. It just strengthens my faith."
(Adapted from “A Spiritual View of Space” by Charles W. Colson)
So, where can you GO to be close to God?
Do you have to climb up into the heights of heaven to be near Him?
In fact, the Bible tells us WE don’t have to climb up to Him. God has repeatedly stepped down out of heaven to earth to be with us.
In the Old Testament God came down in dwelt in the Tabernacle.
Exodus 40 tells about the point at which the Tabernacle was first put together God came down in the form a cloud “…and THE GLORY OF THE LORD filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and THE GLORY OF THE LORD filled the tabernacle.” Exodus 40:34-35
Wherever the Tabernacle went, the “Glory of The Lord” went.
In fact, the Glory of the Lord led the Israelites through the wilderness in the form of a pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night.
Later, after the Temple was built and the ark was brought into the building, God did it again… He came down in the form a cloud and filled the Temple as He’d filled the Tabernacle centuries before: “When the priests (who’d carried the ark into the Temple) withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for THE GLORY OF THE LORD filled his temple.” 1 Kings 8:10-11
In both the Tabernacle & Temple, the Glory of the Lord came down and dwelt amongst His people. They didn’t have to ascend into the Heavens to be with Him God stepped down from Glory to be with them.
And that’s the way it was for centuries.