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Bible verses about Jesus Christ's Birth
(From Forerunner Commentary)

The general history of Christmas should be enough to send shivers of revulsion down our spine. The origin of Christmas and the traditional perversions surrounding this holiday should be an obvious reason to avoid this epitome of paganism. However, there is much more to it than origin and history.

What human being has the right to decide what God wants? If we were to celebrate Christ's birth, the Bible, God's instruction book to mankind, would command us to do so. Yet nowhere in the Bible are we told to celebrate the birth of Christ! It does not even tell us when it was! (For further information on the birth of Christ, see our article, "When Was Jesus Born?")

In John 13:15, Christ Himself gives us an important principle, "For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you." We have no example of Christ celebrating birthdays in connection with holy days or feasts—or at all. In fact, He says, "In vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:9).

The Christmas holiday is spiritually misleading. The emphasis on the "mother and child" distracts from the Father-Son relationship that God's Word focuses on (John 10:30). Christ is reduced to a helpless baby, while Mary is deified and revered. Even Joseph is given more attention than Christ's real Father, the great God of heaven and earth!

Christmas keepers claim that they give gifts on that day because Christ received gifts. The truth is that the wise men brought gifts to the King of the Jews—not when he was born, or when He was an infant, but later when He was a young child (Matthew 2:1-2, 7-11). The gifts were not given to honor His birth, but to show esteem to a king as was the custom in the Middle East.

Further, the wise men did not exchange gifts with each other. So why do people today exchange gifts? Because the origins of these customs are based in paganism! It is interesting to note that offerings to churches decline at this time of year because people are spending their money on each other. How hypocritical!

The worst part of this holiday is that it turns people's hearts away from God. By receiving gifts and by drunkenness and gluttony, individuals are self-gratified, which inevitably leads to sin and crime. Police forces work rigorously to cope with the increased murders, suicides, robberies, and domestic disturbances.

The fruit of this revelry should of itself show us that this holiday is in no way related to the Father and Son of Righteousness. Their holy days lead to peace, joy, hope, and spiritual growth. That is why God instructed the Israelites not to follow pagan customs or worship Him as the heathen do. He says in Deuteronomy 12:31-32, "You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way. . . . Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it."

God knows that ungodly practices like these will not produce the purity of character He desires to see in each of us. James writes, expounding how something pure cannot originate from what is impure: "Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring can yield both salt water and fresh" (James 3:11-12).

Why meddle with the paganisms in Christmas when we can enjoy the purity of God's real holy days revealed in His Word? In following God's instruction, we will grow in developing the true and godly character that God expects in us.

Martin G. Collins
Syncretismas!


 

The date of December 25 to celebrate Christ's birth was chosen to conform to the old, pagan Roman holidays called "Saturnalia" and "Brumalia." The ancient Romans kept these holidays around the time of the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice. Here are some excerpts about this festival from The Book of the Bible by Riedel, Tracy & Moskwitz:

Because the Roman emperor Aurelian fixed December 25th for the winter solstice holiday in AD 274, it is thought that the early Christians adopted this day for their Christ-mass so that they would be less conspicuous in the observance of their holiday.

Most scholars believe that the birthday of Jesus was never known and that the December date was chosen solely for convenience.

The earliest known observance of Christmas on December 25th was the year AD 336 in Rome, as recorded in a calendar of the period.

Throughout antiquity other dates for the birth were advanced: March 25, April 19, November 17, among others, but there is no evidence, literary or historical, that supports any of these dates.

Almost everywhere in Europe, in both Roman and Teutonic [northern European] countries, the period around the winter solstice was celebrated with lights, to celebrate the increase of sunlight to come, and with greenery, usually evergreens, to represent the coming of spring and eternal cycles of growth. At the Saturnalia festival (December 17-24), Romans would present each other with sprigs of holly as gifts for the holiday. When Teutonic tribes began to usurp power from the Romans in Europe, they brought their Yule, or winter feast, traditions with them. The Yule log and wassailing (i.e., toasting each others' health with alcoholic drinks) are two of these traditions.

The origin of the Christmas tree is usually traced to Saint Boniface, who in the 8th century persuaded the Teutonic tribes to abandon worship of the sacred oak of Odin, a remnant of Druidism, and to confer it instead on the fir, a more appropriate symbol of Jesus and eternal life. [Trees, however, have been used in pagan, idolatrous worship for many thousands of years. Numerous references to this can be found throughout the Old Testament (I Kings 14:23; II Kings 16:2-4; 17:10; II Chronicles 28:4; I Samuel 40:18-20; 57:5; 66:17; Jeremiah 2:20; 3:6,13; 10:1-5; Ezekiel 6:13).]

Staff
'Tis the Season: Help for Our Young People


 

If God wanted us to celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ, He would have given us a clear date and instructions on keeping it, just as He did in Leviticus 23 for His true holy days (Leviticus 23:1-5)

Staff
'Tis the Season: Help for Our Young People


 

Simply stated, the Feast of Trumpets is one of God's feast days. It is the fourth of the seven annual holy days, and it is the first of the fall holy days.

A glance at most calendars will show that it is, in fact, a day that is still observed by the Jews. They call it Rosh Hashanah which means "Head of the Year" or "First of the Year." This is because it falls on the first day of the seventh month of God's sacred calendar.

But the Feast of Trumpets is a very special feast day. In many ways, it is a pivotal day.

In our hymnal's version of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic," we sing, "In the beauty of the autumn Christ was born across the sea." This is because there is some evidence that the human Jesus may have been born on or very near the Feast of Trumpets. Also, Bible symbolism and prophecy indicate that He may well return to this earth on the Feast of Trumpets in some future year.

This feast symbolizes a vast turning point in world history. It pictures the pivotal changeover between the age of man, of darkness, and of Satan to the age of God, the World Tomorrow, the Millennium, and the Kingdom of God.

But what do trumpets have to do with all this? What is their significance?

The answer to this question is that many scriptures tell us that trumpet blasts will accompany the major, tumultuous events of the end times, the return of Jesus Christ, and the resurrection of the dead. Here are just a few of those scriptures:

» And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:31)

» . . . in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (I Corinthians 15:52; see I Thessalonians 4:16)

» So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound. The first angel sounded. . . . Then the second angel sounded. . . . Then the third angel sounded. . . . Then the fourth angel sounded. . . . Then the fifth angel sounded. . . . Then the sixth angel sounded. . . . Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!" (Revelation 8:6-8, 10, 12; 9:1, 13; 11:15)

Staff
What Is the Feast of Trumpets, Anyway?


 

Psalm 2:7

Jesus' most important descent, of course, is from God the Father: "The LORD has said to Me, 'You are My Son, today I have begotten You'" (Psalm 2:7; see I Chronicles 17:11-14). The angel Gabriel tells Mary, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). Later, after Jesus' baptism, "a voice came from heaven, saying, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased'" (Matthew 3:17).

This fact has so many meanings to us, but maybe the most wonderful is found in I John 5:20: "And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life." Because Jesus is the Son of God, we can have a relationship with the Father and thus understand and receive eternal life.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Born of a Woman


 

Isaiah 7:14

Some commentators feel that the prophecy of the virgin birth appears within a longer prophecy that runs from Isaiah 7 through Isaiah 12. A theme that holds this seemingly disjointed prophecy together is a string of Messianic prophecies, of which the virgin birth is merely the first (see Isaiah 7:14; 8:16; 9:2, 6-7; 11:1-5, 10). This is important in debunking a popular argument that the virgin-birth prophecy was only for the particular situation in Ahaz's day. The other nearby Messianic prophecies weaken this contention considerably.

Like many Old Testament prophecies, the sign of the virgin birth has both a typical and an antitypical—or a near and a later—fulfillment. Ahaz (c. 731-715 BC) was afraid that the recent alliance between Israel and Syria would tip the balance of power and spell Judah's doom. God, however, assures Ahaz through Isaiah that no such thing would happen—in fact, within 65 years, Israel itself would be completely gone from the land (Isaiah 7:8)! The virgin birth, thought by some to be by a maiden within Ahaz's house, was a sign from God that He would surely bring this to pass. Further, before the child could distinguish good from evil, both kings of Israel and Syria would be dead (verse 16; see II Kings 15:30; 16:9)!

Unfortunately, neither Isaiah nor the authors of the books of Kings and Chronicles document the fulfillment of this prophecy in Ahaz's time. We are left to assume that it indeed happened, or it would be a worthless sign to Ahaz. The virgin and her son Immanuel remain unknown in history.

The only other significant debate regarding this prophecy is the Hebrew word 'almâ, translated "virgin." The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament comments:

Since betûlâ is used many times in the OT as a specific word for "virgin," it seems reasonable to consider that the feminine form of this word ['almâ] is not a technical word for a virgin but represents a young woman, one of whose characteristics is virginity. This is borne out by the fact that the LXX translates it as parthenos in two of its seven occurrences, and that its use in Isa 7:14 was quoted to Joseph by the angel as a prediction of the virgin birth. . . . There is no instance where it can be proved that 'almâ designates a young woman who is not a virgin.

The Greek term for "virgin," parthenos, which Matthew uses in Matthew 1:23, has exactly the same meaning and nuances. Spiros Zodhiates writes in The Complete Word Study New Testament, "Generally it refers to a maiden or damsel of marriageable age," yet "particularly in the sense of one who has not known a man." The plain sense of both usages is that a literal virgin is meant. Otherwise, the sign becomes "no big deal"—thousands of young women have sons every day! But how often does a virgin bear a son?

Unlike the Catholic Church, the church of God, though believing in the virgin birth, does not make it a major doctrine. It is important as a proof of Jesus' Messiahship, and it adds detail to the transcendental nature of the Son of God. In the end, however, like Luke, we must place our focus on Him and the wonderful works He performed as a human being like us, as well as all the many things He does for us still as our High Priest before the Father.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
'Behold, A Virgin Shall Conceive . . .'


 

Daniel 9:25

The starting point of the seventy weeks is stated in verse 25: a decree to rebuild Jerusalem. "The command" should be "a command." The Persian emperors made four decrees in all, so we have a choice of which one fits best with the facts. The only viable decree is the one made by Artaxerxes I in 457 BC. This is the return under Ezra the scribe (Ezra 7:1-10).

Gabriel splits the first sixty-nine weeks into seven weeks (forty-nine years) and sixty-two weeks (434 years). During the forty-nine years from 457 to 408 BC, Jerusalem was being rebuilt. After this time Jerusalem was a fully functioning trade center and fortress. This fulfills the prophecy exactly.

Adding the 434 years to 408 BC brings us to AD 27 (adding one year for passing over the non-existent year 0). During this year, John baptized Jesus and His ministry began. Luke records that "Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age" (Luke 3:23). Taking Luke at his word, if Jesus was within a few months of His thirtieth birthday, His birth must have occurred in 4 BC.

Many Protestants, using a 360-day "prophetic" year and quite a bit of calculation, begin on Nisan 1, 444 BC, and end up on March 30, AD 33, the day (they say) of Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem before His crucifixion. This fits neatly into their scheme, as the Passover in AD 33 occurred on a Friday, but they are two years off! Jeremiah's seventy years of captivity were seventy literal years, not 360-day years. Why should Gabriel's seventy weeks of years be anything else? Their method of calculation is contrived and confusing. They have forced the prophecy into conforming to their beliefs rather than following the simple sense of the Bible's words.

Besides, Christ was not proclaimed as the Messiah for the first time during His triumphal entry, but at His baptism. God the Father, not the people, publicly proclaimed Him to be the Messiah, "My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:16-17).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
'Seventy Weeks Are Determined...'


 

Matthew 1:18-25

Matthew's account is plain and straightforward, as if he were laying out the facts in a court case, and in a way, he is building a case for the reader—particularly the Jewish reader—to accept Jesus as the Messiah. He takes great pains to present the facts that will show that Jesus fulfilled the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 to the letter. What is more, this is an event in which Jesus Himself is passive, having no active part in the fulfillment of the prophecy. This, of course, increases the improbability of its achievement by human manipulation.

Matthew mentions Mary's virginity several times. In Matthew 1:18, he writes, "After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit." In verse 20, the angel verifies this fact by repeating that her conception occurred via supernatural means: "for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit." Verse 23 quotes Isaiah 7:14, "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel." Finally, in verse 25, Matthew reports that Joseph "did not know her [a euphemism for sexual intercourse] till she had brought forth her firstborn Son." In just eight verses, the apostle makes four either explicit or implicit references to Mary's virginity, not only at the time of conception, but also throughout her pregnancy and for some time beyond.

In Matthew, this passage does not stand alone; it is only one of several scenes, along with His genealogy, in the first two chapters that together provide overwhelming proof that Jesus fulfilled many of the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament before He was old enough to have a hand in orchestrating their fulfillments. The virgin birth, however, comes first as the most astounding of them all.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
'Behold, A Virgin Shall Conceive . . .'


 

Luke 2:1-5

The census of Quirinius that required Joseph to travel from Galilee to Bethlehem would most probably have taken place after the fall harvest when people were more able to return to their ancestral homes (Luke 2:1-5). Besides, it was customary in Judea to do their tax collecting during this period, as the bulk of a farmer's income came at this time.

John O. Reid (1930-2016)
When Was Jesus Born?


 

Luke 2:4-7

Luke's account is once again very straightforward, providing succinct details and moving the story along quickly. The events probably took place around the time of the fall harvest. The evangelist informs us that Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem to be registered for the tax that had been decreed by Caesar Augustus in 8 BC, but which was not levied on the Jews until 4 BC due to a Jewish revolt. Normally, registrations like this were done after the people were finished harvesting their fields so that they, first, would not be working and, second, would have the money to pay the tax. This latter reason was very important to the Romans.

The best estimate is that Jesus was begotten, as announced in Luke 1:26-38, ironically, during the end of December, and that He was born near the end of September or in early October of the following year. This means His birth occurred around the Feast of Trumpets in 4 BC. Scripture, of course, nowhere states this explicitly, but the internal evidence points to this general time.

That these events took place around the fall holy days, and that the Romans' registration was happening at the same time, indicates why "there was no room for them in the inn." Jews would have begun to travel to Jerusalem for the holy days to be there for the Feast of Trumpets, and would have remained there until the Last Great Day. Bethlehem, being only about six miles outside of Jerusalem, would probably have received much of the capital city's overflow. There were probably no rooms available for miles around.

Joseph and Mary did not have a convenient Holiday Inn or Motel 6 to pull into, so they had to go wherever they could find a place to stay. They probably ended up in a grotto, a cave behind a home or an inn, where the owner housed his or his customers' horses, donkeys, and oxen. As the text relates, Jesus' first crib was a trough for the animals. With a good cleaning and some fresh straw, this stable was probably not a bad place to stay. They were at least out of the elements and had a roof over their heads.

Many people mistakenly believe that the swaddling cloths Luke mentions are rags. It was a custom of the time to wrap a child in strips of cloth, especially the limbs, perhaps to help them to develop straight. Today's equivalent would be a receiving blanket. Swaddling cloths are not an indication of Joseph and Mary's poverty. In all likelihood, they were neither better nor worse off than the average Jew of the day.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Birth of Jesus Christ (Part Two): Nativity


 

Luke 2:7

Joseph and Mary had to find shelter in a barn or some other kind of animal shelter like a cave or grotto because the inns were full. This indicates that the pilgrims from around the world had begun to arrive in Jerusalem and surrounding towns. Thus, the fall festival season had already commenced. There would have been no similar influx of pilgrims in December.

John O. Reid (1930-2016)
When Was Jesus Born?


 

Luke 2:8

Since the shepherds were still in the fields with their flocks (verse 8), Jesus' birth could not have occurred during the cold-weather months of winter. Sheep were normally brought into centrally located pens or corrals as the weather turned colder and the rainy season began, especially at night. If this were not significant, it begs the question, "Why would Luke have mentioned it in such detail if not to convey a time reference?"

Notice what commentator Adam Clarke writes regarding this:

It was a custom among the Jews to send out their sheep to the deserts [wilderness], about the passover [sic], and bring them home at the commencement of the first rain: during the time they were out, the shepherds watched them night and day. As the passover [sic] occurred in the spring, and the first rain began early in the month of Marchesvan, which answers to part of our October and November, we find that the sheep were kept out in the open country during the whole of the summer. And as these shepherds had not yet brought home their flocks, it is a presumptive argument that October had not yet commenced, and that, consequently, our Lord was not born on the 25th of December, when no flocks were out in the fields; nor could He have been born later than September, as the flocks were still in the fields by night. On this very ground the nativity in December should be given up. The feeding of the flocks by night in the fields is a chronological fact, which casts considerable light on this disputed point. (Clarke's Commentary, vol. V, p. 370)

John O. Reid (1930-2016)
When Was Jesus Born?


 

Luke 2:8

Jesus was not born in the winter season! When the Christ-child was born "there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night" (Luke 2:8). This could never have occurred in Judea in the month of December. The shepherds always brought their flocks from the mountainsides and fields and corralled them not later than October 15, to protect them from the cold, rainy season that followed that date. Notice that the Bible itself proves, in Song of Solomon 2:11 and Ezra 10:9, 13, that winter was a rainy season not permitting shepherds to abide in open fields at night.

"It was ancient custom among Jews of those days to send out their sheep to the fields and deserts about the Passover (early spring), and bring them home at commencement of the first rain," says the Adam Clarke Commentary (vol. 5, p. 370, New York ed.).

Continuing, this authority states: "During the time they were out, the shepherds watched them night and day. As . . . the first rain began early in the month of Marchesvan, which answers to part of our October and November [begins sometime in October], we find that the sheep were kept out in the open country during the whole summer. And, as these shepherds had not yet brought home their flocks, it is a presumptive argument that October had not yet commenced, and that, consequently, our Lord was not born on the 25th of December, when no flocks were out in the fields; nor could He have been born later than September, as the flocks were still in the fields by night. On this very ground, the nativity in December should be given up. The feeding of the flocks by night in the fields is a chronological fact."

Any encyclopedia, or any other authority, will tell you that Christ was not born on December 25. The Catholic Encyclopedia frankly states this fact.

The exact date of Jesus' birth is entirely unknown, as all authorities acknowledge—though there are indications that it was in the early fall—probably September—approximately six months after Passover.

If God had wished us to observe and celebrate Christ's birthday, He would not have so completely hidden the exact date.

Herbert W. Armstrong (1892-1986)
The Plain Truth About Christmas


 

Luke 2:8-14

Jesus' birth occurred in September or perhaps early October. This could not have taken place in December because shepherds would not have been out in the fields at night then. In Palestine, the rainy season transpires between the end of October and early April, with the most inclement weather occurring between December and February. In fact, around Jerusalem, much of the region's 24 inches of annual rain falls during this winter period. Shepherds did not want to keep the sheep in the rain and cold anymore than they wanted to be there themselves.

Most translations tone verse 9 down a bit from its intended sudden majesty. It should read, "And BOOM! an angel of the Lord stood before them." The angel's appearance was instantaneous and shocking! One second they were peacefully minding their sheep, eyelids half-shut, and the next, right in their midst, perhaps hovering just over their heads, stood an angel in all the brilliance of angelic glory!

Luke writes that "they were greatly afraid." What understatement! Today, we might say they were terrified out of their skulls! Occasionally, we hear of a person's supposed abduction by aliens suddenly in the night. Television and movies have visualized this for us—but what if an angel actually did appear abruptly before our eyes, radiating light like a huge spotlight and looking directly at us? Most people would be on their faces in an instant, probably holding their heads, wondering if a thunderbolt was about to strike!

The angel says to them, "Do not be afraid" (verse 10), trying to shush their fears a bit, although it is hard to say what success he had. At least he was able to communicate to them what he needed to say. Evidently, they were calm enough to listen to his announcement, despite their terror.

What he says is quite interesting: "I bring you good tidings of great joy." The Greek word for "I bring good tidings" is evangelízomai, literally, "I evangelize you," and his good news is a matter "of great joy." In a way, this is the beginning of the preaching of the gospel, as this is the sense of the Greek term. He is informing the shepherds that God had sent him as an evangelist to let them know that the way of salvation was beginning to open to all people. This was great news indeed for the common folk, as these shepherds were, who have rarely been considered among the worthies of society.

That God sent the first announcement of His Son's birth to shepherds among their sheep has an appealing, symbolic connotation. Recall that these shepherds were in the field watching over sheep at night when the angel, a messenger from God, illuminated them with the good news of salvation. Shepherds are biblical symbols of spiritual leaders or ministers, and sheep are well known to represent God's elect. Jesus' parables often employ the image of a field to signify the world, and the darkness of night stands for the condition of being cut off from God. This scene is a beautiful foreshadowing of the pattern God uses to evangelize through the gospel message.

Another intriguing fact, hidden in the English translation, appears in the last phrase of verse 10: "to all people." In the Greek text, a definite article appears before "people," so it should read, "all the people." When the Bible reads "the people," it usually refers to the people of Israel. The birth of the Savior was to be great joy for all people, of course, but especially for Israel. If we understand this spiritually, His coming has its greatest effect on the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16), the church. Certainly, the church, to which God has revealed His way most fully, has both the fullest appreciation as well as the deepest understanding of Christ's coming in the flesh.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Birth of Jesus Christ (Part Two): Nativity


 

Luke 2:11-14

The title "Christ the Lord" would probably have been said as "Messiah Adonai" in the Aramaic that these shepherds spoke. This is a not-so-subtle intimation that this newborn child was not only the promised Messiah, but also the One known as "the Lord" in the Old Testament. The angel is not merely announcing the birth of a special baby in Bethlehem but that God had been born as a human being (Matthew 1:23; John 1:14)!

In verses 13-14, Luke writes: "And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!'" Here appears another BOOM! in the evangelist's narrative. Suddenly, there was not just one angel in the glory of the Lord, but a whole host of them all around the quivering shepherds. Not only were they visible, they were singing as only angels can, praising God. Their presence heightens the importance of the announcement.

The angels are obviously overjoyed that this greatly anticipated event in God's plan had finally taken place. Another huge step in God's purpose had been accomplished. Note, too, that this was not just a small, heavenly choir but the heavenly host that appeared in full force. God's vast army came to add their voices to the announcement that their great Captain had just been born!

The hymn they sang, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" requires some explanation. Glory is the Greek word dóxa, which means "praise, recognition, honor, worship"—the height of reverence and adulation that we could give or say to God. "In the highest" is a somewhat controversial phrase in that, as a superlative, it could modify either "glory" or "God." Thus, it could refer to the highest glory or the highest God (or even God in the highest heaven). There is a possibility that in the Aramaic, the words the angels sang may have been "Glory to the Most High God," since that is a common title of God in the Old Testament.

They also sing of peace on earth. One of Christ's titles is "The Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6), and He who had just been born would eventually bring peace on earth. He would do it first through His sacrifice, making peace between God and sinful man (Romans 5:1), and later He would return in glory, bringing peace to the earth with the sword (Revelation 19:11-21). He will have to impose peace at His second coming, but once He does, the earth will have real peace. Only through the birth of God's Son in Bethlehem could the process of bringing true peace to the earth begin.

The final words in the angels' song are "goodwill toward men," a long-disputed phrase. However, most modern experts in Greek agree that the whole clause should be translated, "Peace on earth among men of His good pleasure." This implies that God was bringing peace and joy especially and specifically to those to whom He had granted favor or extended grace.

During the Passover sermon Jesus gave His disciples, He says, "Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you" (John 14:27). His disciples, numbering a mere 120 (Acts 1:15), were the only ones who could really experience peace because they comprised the extent of those with whom God had found favor. Yet, within days, thousands more had been converted, and God's peace began to expand. Real peace, a fruit of God's Spirit (Galatians 5:22), can only be produced in those in whom God's Spirit dwells (Romans 8:14). Right now, members of God's church are the only people on earth who can really have godly peace on earth because "unto us a Child is born. Unto us a Son is given" (Isaiah 9:6).

We are the "men of His good pleasure." Jesus tells His disciples in Luke 12:32: "Do not fear little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." We are the ones who have this favor from God. The angels' song is a declaration to us that God is with us, just as He was with Mary when He overshadowed her (Luke 1:35). As spiritual Israel and spiritual Zion, we are the apple of His eye (Deuteronomy 32:9-10; Zechariah 2:7-8), and He will do all He can to bring us to salvation and into His Kingdom.

These passages mean so much more than what we usually see in a Christmas pageant, a nativity scene out on the town common, or hear in a catchy jingle. What we see in these announcements are elements of the way God works, and they should strengthen our faith in Him and what He is doing. They should solidify our hope in the resurrection because, not only did the Father bring His Son into the world just as prophesied, but He also guided Jesus through a perfect human lifetime to His sacrificial death for us all, resurrecting Him from the grave exactly three days and three nights later, as Jesus had said was the only sign of His Messiahship (John 2:18-22).

That glorious Holy One ascended to heaven and now sits at the right hand of God as our High Priest. He is the Head of the church and our soon-coming King. He promises us, "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5), as well as, "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:3). He now awaits the word from His Father to return to this earth to set up His Kingdom. What great confidence we can have that all this will happen as planned, and we will be part of it!

As the angels sang to the shepherds in the field, "Glory to the Most High God and peace on earth among those He favors!"

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Birth of Jesus Christ (Part Two): Nativity


 

 




The Berean: Daily Verse and Comment

The Berean: Daily Verse and Comment

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