We really have lots to celebrate 2017

ONE might say I’m big on Christmas celebrations, well there maybe some truth in it!

It is such a significant date or time in our annual calendar.

It marks a significant and critical event in the history of humanity.

A time of remembering an event of major importance which has impacted our lives; Kind of like a Birthday, The reason why one is alive on earth. So it is with “Christmas” it holds incredible meaning and importance to mankind; as it remembers the Birth of God’s Son JESUS born in the (flesh ‘human’ 100%) and remembering the incredible impact it had for mankind. Mankind who were slaves too and under the domination to the Law of Sin and Death because of Adams Fall.

The birth of JESUS and its importance was not understood by men as they were living in darkness serving a master who cared not for them; (Lucifer) and this dominance kept them from knowing God personally. Also mankind was continually in debt to God because of their sins and sin nature, never able to offer anything that would satisfy the demands and just payment that the sin debt demanded.

Basically mankind was lost and without any hope , the goodnews was God had a solution and He (God) because of His love for us was willing to fulfill ‘the solution’

That solution required God’s Son to be born of human flesh in our world of debt to sin, he would be born without the sin nature of Adam; so his life was without debt. This was going to allow a payment acceptable for the sin debt owed by man as by one man Adam the sin debt came and was passed on by birth, so to God was about to by one man JESUS pay the sin debt and redeem man from the debt he owed and JESUS would pass it on by New Birth.

12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 5:12-21 ESV

This debt cancellation happens when we lay our lives down at the cross of CALVARY in our heart and die to sin and ask God to make us alive to him. “Being Born Again”

That’s the big picture of Christmas and of course like all things in the natural it has a beginning and the Birth of JESUS is it for mankind, hence remembrance of God’s sons birth during a Christmas season has incredible importance, particularly to those who have accepted God’s solution for their sin debt it has huge meaning.

Santa Claus, tinsel and Christmas trees are all nice and fine but they aren’t the reason for the season. Gift giving has more significance particularly if it’s done in the right spirit (heart motive) “unselfishly Like God’s was” as it reflects the heart of God and what he did for us by sending His son to be the solution for our sin debt; this gift  was was given even though we hadn’t earned it or obtained any Merit to warrant receiving it.

That’s why we say Christmas is a message of Good News and Peace to all mankind, the solution for our sin debt was at hand and the conflict between us and God due to our sin debt was being dealt with. The enmity between us and God was going to be removed.

The Christian world is born from the birth of JESUS God’s son, JESUS the Christ. So we really have lots to celebrate!

Rev. Gary Green

So its Christmas whats the big Deal

geg-150-150By Rev. Gary Green

4cminews.com 07 Dec 2016

Well What is CHRISTMAS

Secular sources offers this Definition

Christmasˈkrɪsməs/ noun
1. the annual Christian festival celebrating Christ’s birth, held on 25 December in the Western Church.
synonyms: Xmas, Noel; Burra Din; informal: Chrimbo, Chrissie; archaic: Yule, Yuletide

Wikipedia says

Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed most commonly on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world.

Dummies.com says

You probably know that Christmas is celebrated on December 25. In the Western World, families distribute gifts that Santa Claus left under the Christmas tree on Christmas morning. Many attend church services on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, and later gather for Christmas dinner with extended family.
 

Christmas is the observance of Jesus’ humble birth to a virgin in a stable in Bethlehem. The holiday also celebrates the events surrounding his birth, such as an angel’s appearance to shepherds, telling them to visit the newborn king.
 

Although the Church doesn’t consider it the most important Christian holiday, Christmas is certainly the most popular, at least in terms of cultural and social significance.

What did the Apostles of the new testament Say about “This Jesus & His Birth”

Firstly we can look to the Apostle Johns letters in particular 1 John Chapter 3 the things we know about this letter is that we are certain about the intended readers based on the content of the letter itself is that (i) they were Christians, (ii) they appear to have been well-known to the author (and he to them), and (ii) they were facing a threat from false teaching, a threat which was both serious and which appears to have arisen from within their Christian community.1) 1 John 2:18-19  ie. The first epistle indicates that the readers were confronted with the error of Gnosticism2)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gnosticism . And  the locale in which Johns letters were written leads scholars to conclude that the best and earliest evidence points to Ephesus. The Book of 1 John was likely written between A.D. 85-95.

The Apostle John leads in with this Statement found in 1 John 1 vs.1 – vs.4 which is a core foundation he builds upon

1 John 1 (ESV)

1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

In the epistle 1 John chapter 3 we find the Apostle John states a foundational doctrinal truth which is core to Christianity and directly clarifies why the Birth of Jesus on Earth.

1 John 3 (ESV)

1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

 ESV vs.5 and (TLB) vs.5

you know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. or as the TLB puts it

And you know that he became a man so that he could take away our sins, and that there is no sin in him

 ESV vs.8

… The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

The Apostle John is writing from Ephesus to the believers and states clearly the purpose for the Birth Life and Death of Jesus the Christ Gods only Son.

This was no ordinary event; this was no random event of chance! No it had specific purpose and intent formed in the heart of God the Creator of Heaven and Earth which could only be achieved by His only Son Jesus the Christ.

In today’s vernacular; the most Historic Earth Changer, Heavens Shattering, SIN Destroying Event which not even Lucifer himself understood, was all formed in the heart of God with the Son before the foundations of this world had became a reality.

This intervention this visitation by God and His Son was aimed at one thing and one thing only and the Apostles and Prophets declared it!

“To Destroy the Power, The Dominion and Control of Mans State of SIN; that came through the fall of Adam.

From that day Adam fell all flesh was born in SIN; Born under Domination, Born with a SIN Debt he could never pay; Born with a SIN Nature he in himself could never Dominate but rather would be dominated by.

What could be describe as “Mans Dilemma” which could only be resolved by God. A SOLUTION that ONLY GOD could provide which was through his Only Son Jesus who by the way of the Cross obtained and offer to men.

The Birth of Jesus

Is about SIN and God’s answer to the “Dilemma” Mankind could never resolve

Gnosticism states Matter ie (Flesh) is Evil and Spirit is Good therefore God did not come as a man in flesh and die a physical death. Thereby voiding the shedding of blood for forgiveness of sins which is the payment God made for Mans redemption of his SIN Debt to God. The Apostle John refutes this and say’s “Jesus was Born physically as a child in Flesh and was Gods Son”.  We could say… Gods reasons for coming to earth in human fleshly form of man wasn’t because of a whim or fancy to mingle with men, no it was motivated by a love for mankind and compassion and kindness not found in the hearts of men naturally.

The writer of Hebrews in chapter 9 vs 28 say’s “Christ died only once”. So why did He die? and whats that got to do with Christmas?

Well!

What was the prime purpose of Jesus being born in the Flesh (100% man), 1 Jn 3:5 ESV. say’s He came “To Take Away our Sins” and in Hebrews chapter 9 vs 28 is say’s “so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many,… ” But it did not stop there! vs.28 continues to say “so Christ,… “will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him”.

Hebrews chapter 9 says Jesus is coming a second time and it has nothing to do with Sins!

One needs to ask Why?

I believe Jesus himself explained it clearly with his last words spoken on the cross! and has been recorded in the gospels for all mankind to know. “IT IS FINISHED”

What is finished?

The Sin Problem!

The Sin Problem was and is No Longer a problem as far as God is Concerned.

Gods Solution had now been fully completed and was now established forever for mankind,

Remember… “he appeared in order to take away sins…

Remember…”… The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

God’s Son Jesus is Coming a Second Time

And this time He comes to Earth for an entirely different purpose!

 “To Save Those Who Are Eagerly Waiting for Him’ (Hebrews 9 vs.28)

The question needs to be asked! “Now that sins have been dealt with! What is God through His son going to Save His People From?”

The books of Matthew3)Matthew 24:3-31 , Thessalonians4)1 Thessalonians chapters 4-5 and 2 Thessalonians chapters 2-3 and Revelations  speaks about this time coming it is refereed to by many as the 70th Week of Daniel’s Prophecy.5)DANIEL 9:27

And according to the writer of the books Jesus is Coming to a time like nothing Mankind has ever seen before, a time where the Demonic world makes an open play for Domination and Satan attempts to once again declare himself as God and in Pride places himself on a throne in the 3rd Temple in Jerusalem declaring himself as God, demanding all to bow down and worship him and will require all to take a mark that signifies their submission and homage of him as God, this single act by mankind will immediately determine their eternal doom and Just condemnation by God.

This 70th week (a 7 year period) is marked with great tribulations to those who are God’s people, Jews and Christians alike come under intense persecution from Man on Man, Daniel says this period will last 3.5 years, which brings mankind to a tipping point where the Antichrist plays his hand for Domination and control, fooling even the elite with his guile.

What follows is something no one should ever want to see or endure in their right mind, it is the Wrath of God Poured Out on Mankind on Earth, Judgments so terrifying it should cause all who hear of its coming want to do whatever God says must be done to escape this.

This is what Jesus is coming back for! Its been called the “Rapture”, the “Departure”, the “Resurrection” of the Dead in Christ and the Living. The writer of the book of Hebrews clearly states Jesus second coming was and will be to “SAVE” His people waiting for Him.

Christmas is About:

The Power of SIN and the SIN Nature that has Dominated Mankind Since Adams Fall being Dealt with by God once and for all, it is also about a time yet to come where God Saves people from a time like no other where the full cup of God’s Wrath and Judgments a meted out on a defiant mankind.

Johns Gospel says it well. John Chapter 1 vs 29

Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the Sins of the World” we should bare in mind that Jesus had not died on the cross at this point and the John the Baptist sees Jesus and makes this proclamation.

The Angels declared the purpose of the Birth of Jesus before He was even born. Apostle Matthew writes in chapter 1 vs 21 ” the Angel said to Joseph, son of David fear not take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit, She will bare a son and you shall call his name Jesus for he will save his people from their Sins”

Apostle Luke’s account of the shepherds in the field is illuminating vs.10 chapter 2. “The Angel said fear not behold I bring you Good News of great Joy that will be for all people, vs. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a saviour who is Christ “the anointed one” the Lord “God”

The Angels Declared the purpose of His Birth it was: “SALVATION FROM SIN AND JUDGMENTS”

Isaiah chapter 7 vs 14 says ” He shall be called Immanuel “God is with Us” we must remember this was recorded from Oral History in the book of Isaiah around 701-681 BC with that in mind We now read Isaiah chapter 9 vs 6 which says

For unto to us a child is born

Isaiah 9:6

to us a son is given

and the government shall be upon his shoulder 

and his name shall be called

wonderful counsellor, Mighty God

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah proclaims yet another time to come which can be biblically tied to the 1000 years of peace what is called The Millennium, spoken of in the New Testament, We have a prophet during a period before 701-681 BC declaring events to a child yet to be born “Jesus” concerning a world changing event to happen. we are now in 2016 means approx. 3000 yrs have past and this event is yet to happen. I can confidently say it will happen, why because this child was born, that is what Christmas is about!

The Nativity Story is far more then a stable, a baby and animals we celebrate an event which altered the destiny on mankind and saved them from doom and eternal damnation. Most today do not understand this or consider it part of what is Called Christmas in the Secular sense, for a vast majority its a public holiday time for presents and endulgements of excess.

Christmas is not a Jewish holiday.6)http://www.jewfaq.org/xmas.htm Yet according to the prophet Zachariah in chapter 12 vs 10 there is coming a day when they will finally recognise Gods Only Son this child Born of a Virgin, Named Jesus who came to take away their SIN. “Take away the Sins of many people”

10 “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.

Zachariah 12:10

Yes a time is coming when the Nation of Israel will understand and acknowledge Jesus Born of Mary Gods Only Son the Child who came in humility and suffered the cross for their SIN to save them from Sin and Death (Eternal Separation From God), this event for Israel will not come without a price; as at this time spoken of in Zachariah 2 thirds of Israel will have been killed and in desperation those who are left cry out to God and God sends His Son a third time to save them from total destruction, Salvation is always on Gods Mind.

WHAT IS ON OUR MIND?

We today have an incredible opportunity before us as we enter the 2016 Christmas festive period. We have the freedom and opportunity to embrace God and His Son and What He came for and did for us some (approx.) 2000 years ago.

Will we openly acknowledge without reservation God sent His Son Born of a Virgin and His name was called Jesus and He came for a specific purpose “to save us from the Power of SIN and the Domination of the SIN Nature that holds every-man not born of God Captive.

Whatever has happened during 2016 in our live is behind us what matters is what are we going to do with the truth about Jesus the Son of God.

He came born as a child He lived as a man and His name was called Jesus 100% Man yet 100% “God is With Us!” non can deny the facts historical evidence demands that acknowledgement, what God seeks is the Heart of a Man or Women Boy or Girl who will embrace for themselves the very purpose His Son Jesus came for, that He came to save them from their SIN and to destroy the power of SIN over them. And we who are alive may see Him come again to save us from a time that’s yet to come.

In conclusion I would ask you to once and for all will you Surrender your Life to God and Let Him Save you from the power of, and domination of and control of “SIN”, which only produces “Death”, ie. separation from God now and for Eternity

The Bible says only a fool says in their heart “there is No God” Psalm 14 vs.1, I would say only a fool would say they have No Sin or a Sin Debt to God and the Apostle John says that person is deceived 1 John 1 vs.8-vs.10

The Birth of Jesus was the prime act of Gods Plan to Redeem (pay out) our Sin Debt to God on our behalf because we could never by our own efforts pay that Debt!

Yes we actually have something to Celebrate at Christmas and its not Santa and Present or Holidays!

TODAY HIT LIFE’S PAUSE BUTTON.

Replay the Christmas Story God’s Way: His Son came to dwell amongst man to Save men from “SIN” and then I invite you to embrace in its absolute fullness the One Purpose He came for.

Below is a prayer Ive written I would encourage you to find a quiet place and pray this prayer with utter sincerity and resolve to let it be the reality and truth of your life today.

GOD WILL NOT LET YOU DOWN
knockFather in Heaven, I come to you in Jesus name.

I believe Jesus Christ is your son and that Jesus came and lived as man, and he was crucified on the cross for my sins.

I believe Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day and is seated at the right hand of God in Heaven, as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Today I ask that Jesus, your son, would come and dwell in my heart by the Holy Spirit, and I surrender my whole life, my will and desires to Jesus Christ and make him my Lord and King.

Today I choose to give you, almighty God, complete control of my life.

Fill me with your Holy Spirit, forgive me for my sins, and give me your power and ability now to live a life that honors you and brings others to know you. I thank you for this new life I now Have.

I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

Write to us and tell us if you have taken this step Today “Contact Us

References

↑ 1. 1 John 2:18-19
↑ 2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gnosticism
↑ 3. Matthew 24:3-31
↑ 4. 1 Thessalonians chapters 4-5 and 2 Thessalonians chapters 2-3
↑ 5. DANIEL 9:27
↑ 6. http://www.jewfaq.org/xmas.htm

The Mystery of the Word made Flesh

Text: John 1:1-18

John 1:1-18 (ESV)

The Word Became Flesh
v.1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. v.2 He was in the beginning with God. v.3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. v.4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. v.5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

v.6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. v.7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. v.8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

v.9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. v.10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. v.11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. v.12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, v.13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

v.14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. v.15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out,This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) v.16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. v.17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. v.18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

Introduction

From time to time I sense the Lord leading me to pray about what the New Testament calls

the mystery
, this “mystery” is certainly related to Christmas but not in a way we find naturally attractive.

Unlike the culturally appealing baby in the manger theme the mystery leads directly to the cross.

In a concise way Paul expounds the mystery in a way which was extremely counter cultural to the spirituality of his day; “the great mystery of our faith, was manifested in the flesh” (1 Tim 3:16).

John’s Gospel shares this testimony, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father” (John 1:14).

Whenever the Church has a fresh revelation of the Word made flesh it experiences the radiance of the Father’s glory and matures in Christ. This is the revelation we need if we are to be spiritually prepared for the tough times that lie ahead in a culture where biblical Christianity is increasingly unpopular.

The place we need to turn today is John 1:1-18.

Popular preachers love to tell stories about how God helps people, but in John 1 God tells his own story. The story of the Word made flesh is a statement as to how in reshaping his own identity the Son of God reshapes ours.

Often the way Christians casually talk about the Lord trivialises the dignity of his person.

As you don’t share your heart with anyone so God does  not share his mysteries with shallow people. This becomes very clear when we notice a profound connection between what John 1:18 says about Jesus and how the apostle John describes his own relationship with Christ;

John 1:18 reads literally, “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is in the bosom of Father, he has made him known.”, and John 13:23 says, “Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.” (John 13:23).

In a physical sense “bosom” means the centre of the human chest but symbolically it means strength of feeling, intimacy and fellowship.

Only someone who enjoys rich intimacy with Jesus, only a “bosom buddy” of Christ can be spiritually connected with his deep intimacy with the Father and receive a revelation of the mystery of God. John 1:1-18 confronts us with this challenge today.

Eternal Word

By starting his Gospel with “In the beginning was the Word”, or more literally, “When the beginning began the Word already was.” John takes us back not only to “the beginning” of creation in Genesis 1:1 but into the backdrop of eternity.

WORD

The Greek term we translate “Word” is Logos.

For ancient people the world made sense.

When John’s Greek readers saw the word Logos

they thought of the blueprint for the universe and the powerful cosmic presence holding everything together.

For the Jews the Word was the agent of creation and God’s mode of communication through law and prophets 

Yesterday I was listening to a friend share his testimony of how reading through twentieth century Western literature at university plunged him into a deep depression.

Any society which abandons faith in the Word and commits to an atheistic evolutionary view that sees the world as ultimately irrational will fall into spiritual, moral and mental darkness.

When John says “the Word was with God, he uses a Greek term that conveys a dynamic interconnection between the Word and God which flows into his next expression “and the Word was God”.

The text does not say that the Word was divine or that the Word was a little “g” God, it says the

Word was God….in the beginning with God” (1:1-2); there never was a time when the Word was not God.

Creation through the Word

John now scales down from eternity to the Word’s creation of space and time. 

JOHN 1: v.3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.(cf. Heb 1:2-3)

Creation by the Word sets the stage for illumination by the Word.

Light

JOHN 1: v.4 – v.5 v.4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. v.5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

As life and light were paired in creation’s beginning so now the life of the Word is the source of all spiritual enlightenment.

In John’s Gospel the life and light do things; as “the resurrection and the life” Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead (11:25, 43-44), as “the light of the world” he gives light to blind eyes (8:12; 9:5-7).

As the first act of creation dispelled physical darkness so the spiritual light of the Word dispels spiritual darkness. In John 3 Jesus speaks of darkness as a power that hates him, “v.19 the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. v.20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.” (John 3:19-20 cf. Matt 13:13; John 13:27-30). Not everyone hated the light.

John the Baptist appears briefly in this section of the Gospel as a witness of the Word.

JOHN 1: v.6 – v.9 & v.15 | “v.6John. v.7cameto bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. v.8 …. v.15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”)

In the other Gospels the Baptist is the greatest of all “born of women” but in John his status is solely as a witness. To share in this spirit of witness which directs all attention to Jesus is God’s call on all our lives.

Born Again

JOHN 1: v.9 v.9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

Any religious, political or philosophical system that does not have Christ at its centre is a false light and a satanic lie
(Ps 24:4; Isa 44:20; Amos 2:4; Rom 1:25; 2 Cor 11:14).

Back in the 70’s we encountered a group on the streets of Adelaide who experienced a mystical initiation through “taking knowledge” (Divine Light Mission). In this ritual a flashing light went off in the head of the disciple and powerfully convinced them their guru rather than Jesus was the Light of the world.

If there is counterfeit mysticism there are true mystical experiences.

Some years ago in prayer I had an encounter with the most intense WHITE light that powerfully and spontaneously moved me to worship God through Christ (1 John 1:6ff.). In my prayer diary I wrote the words, “before the purity of this light we will worship forever” (cf. 1 Tim 6:16). This is the light of the Word which enlightens the world.

When the light of the Word enters into our hearts (Ps 119:130; 2 Cor 4:4) it gives us a new identity.

Jesus said if we believe in him we would “become sons of light” (John 12:35-36; 1 Thess 5:5 cf. Ps 36:9; Eph 5:8).

Seeing things through God’s light, which as we will see ultimately means the light of the cross, reshapes the way we see everything.

A university friend had an experience of the light of the Lord and shortly after went into a lab and looked through the microscope at a plant section (cotyledon); he could only describe what he saw as “beautiful”.

In the light of Christ all the children of God are radiantly beautiful; I have had powerful experiences of this myself. No child of God should ever see themselves as fundamentally dark, depraved or sinful (cf. Rom 13:12, 14) but called to be alive with the light of the Lord bringing illumination to those in the darkness (cf. Matt 5:16)

I was listening to a former gay activist talking about homosexuality recently and he stressed all his hundreds of relationships with other men were based on getting things from the lives in a fruitless attempt to become whole. He was like a “black hole” where things go in but nothing comes out. The narcissistic pattern of relating which is fast becoming the norm in our society is an inevitable consequence of its rejection of the light of the Word.

JOHN 1: v.10 – v.11 v.10He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.In John’s writingthe worldis humanity in its alienation from God. How painfully horrible it must have been for the Creator-Word to live amongst his beloved creatures unrecognised.v.11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.

The Jews saw the Torah/O.T. as the world’s light, but when Torah appeared in human form they rejected him.

More positively however:

JOHN 1: v.12 – v.13 v.12But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, v.13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

To believe in his name is to accept him as having God’s authority to adopt you as his child (3:18; 13:33; 20; 31; 21:5).

If the sonship enjoyed by Adam in the first creation was lost by a fall into darkness adoption into God’s family through the Word means becoming part of a new creation (Luke 3:38; Rom 1:21). How this mysterious transaction takes place is about to be expounded; the Word that had forever been with God became “flesh” so that those naturally born from flesh might be born from God.

The Triumph of the Flesh

JOHN 1: v.14 v.14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

In various religions divine messengers visit the earth but uniquely in our faith God has become one of us.

When “the Word became flesh” humanity was added to deity so that Jesus was 100% God and 100% human.

Even more amazing than God becoming a human being is what sort of human nature he took on.

In John’s Gospel “flesh” is what needs to be regenerated; “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit….you must be born again” (John 3:6-7). Jesus teaches that “flesh” is useless when it comes to perceiving spiritual truth; “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all.” (John 6:63).

Throughout scripture “flesh” is that dimension of our sinful humanity that makes us stubborn, prideful, independent of God and resistant to God’s Spirit (Gen 6:2ff; Rom 8:5-8; Gal 5:16-17).

Flesh is a place where darkness dwells; flesh means weakness and finally death. As the Word become flesh Jesus walked the earth experiencing hunger, thirst, tiredness, sadness, grief, suffering, temptation and death (Luke 4:1-4; 22:43-44; John 4:6; John 19:34; Heb 2:14).

Today the radical reality of the fleshly humanity of Christ the Word is commonly ignored by popular pastors who have no appetite for “mystery”.

It was not so in previous generations. 450 years ago (1563) one of the Reformation Confessions (Heidelberg Catechism) summed up the life of the Word- as-flesh like this; “during his whole life on earth, but especially at the end, Christ sustained in body and soul the wrath of God against the sin of the whole human race.”

This is not saying that the Father was ever angry with the Son but that in becoming “flesh” God the Word voluntary deprived himself of the infinite bliss of heaven to be immersed in our  groaning world handed over for our sins to weakness, suffering and death (Rom 8:22).

Even sincere Christians sometimes feel that God does not understand their perplexity and pain; but the most common emotion attributed to Jesus in the Gospels is..?.. compassion.

The extreme compassion drawn out of Jesus in seeing men and women in distress flowed from his personal sharing in the “flesh and blood” nature of lost humanity (Matt 9:36; 14:14; Heb 2:14-15). He knew for himself what it was like to be a frail human being! The climax of the enfleshment of the Word is however the cross.

In carrying our condemned flesh to its ultimate fate Jesus must endure the perplexity and pain of our lostness.

The cry from the cross, “My God…why have you forsaken me?” is certainly a cry from perishing flesh (cf. 1 Pet 2:24), but there is something radically different here in the suffering of this man’s flesh.

Instead of stubbornly turning away from God, or trying to bribe or beg for favour, Jesus’ flesh is fully turned towards the Lord. In Paul’s radical language about the humiliation of the cross “by sending his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh…(God) condemned sin in the flesh” (Rom 8:3).

In the God-centred character of the flesh of Christ our self-centred flesh has been condemned and destroyed. This is a great mystery.

The cross is the place in God’s plan where in the maximum impotence of mortal flesh the Word is fully surrendered to his Father’s love; ““Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!”” (Luke 23:46). These words are especially powerful to me because on the one occasion I felt sure I was dying I found myself praying them over and over in my heart.

It is Jesus’ weak flesh fully surrendered to the Father that lights the way to God. To emphasise this John employs Old Testament language. In saying that the enfleshed Word “dwelt amongst us” he literally describes the “tabernacling” of the Word. As God indwelt and showed his glory in the wilderness the Word “tabernacled” amongst us (Ex 33; 40:34).

The testimony “we have seen his glory” involves a seeing of divine splendour in the fleshly humanity of Christ (11:45; 14:7, 9 cf. 1 John 3:6; 3 John 11). This is “glory as of the only Son of the Father”. In the theology of John the ultimate reason why Jesus emptied himself of the glories of heaven to become “flesh” and died is that this brought glory to his Father. (Phil 2:7)?

In its fixation with being loved, in its unsanctified fleshliness, popular Christian spirituality usually fails to grasp the inner glory of the cross.

There’s a catchy song about the sacrifice of Jesus which ends with, “Like a rose trampled on the ground you took the fall, and thought of me above all.” The ending of this chorus is hopelessly self-centred (anthropocentric), in dying Jesus didn’t think of me above all, he thought of me in the Father, he saved me, and you to bring glory to the Father.

In John’s Gospel “glory” comes through the cross and what it brings. Jesus prays, ““v.27 Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. v.28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”… Jesus said “v.32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.v.33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.”  (John 12:27-28, 32 cf. John 12:12:16; John 12:13:31-32; John 12:21:19).

Flesh on fire with sacrificial love for a world whose deep depravity he has personally endured unveils a God whose love is so great that he can only be called “Father”. 

To see the dying Jesus is to see the invisible Father (John 14:9-10). This is the pure light of a sinless humanity which fully illuminates the truth of God; this is the triumph of the humanity of the Son of God.

Some insight into this glory came through an experience I had in Cambodia a few years ago. Here are some things I wrote at the time; “As I was praying in my filthy street in Phnom Penh it was if I could see in the Spirit what the Father saw when he looked at the cross, I could see that he did not look at the cross so much as look through the cross, through the absolute purity of heart (cf. Matt 5:8) of the sacrificial Son dying for the world, and what he saw was himself, he saw the fullness of his own glory perfectly imaged without any defect, distortion, corruption or stain (Col 1:15)”.

Knowing this is “the glory of the (unique) only Son” (cf. Gen 22:2; Ex 4:22; Jer 31:9) multiplies the pathos of his sacrifice for us 1)John 3:16 .  As “full of grace and truth” Jesus brings to fulfilment the partial revelation of God’s covenant love and faithfulness in the Old Testament (Ex 34:6). The “grace upon grace”2)v.16 he imparts means he is an inexhaustible supply of blessing (Eph 2:7; 3:8).

JOHN 1:17 v.17For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

In its time and place the law was good, but now that Jesus has obeyed the commandments of God in his own flesh on our behalf the law has no place in our salvation. Deliverance is in Jesus alone (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). We have reached the climax of our passage.

JOHN 1:18 v.18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.

The Old Testament common remarks, “no one can see God and live” (Ex 33:20 etc.) but in Jesus God has stepped out of eternity into time through the enfleshment of the Word. In John’s language Christ is “the only God…in the bosom of the Father”. This is the most accurate translation of this text but it may also be reasonably translated “near to the Father’s heart” or “in the lap of the Father”. For a number of years I was involved with extensive prayer retreats called Prayer Summits. Early in the retreat we would place a chair in the centre of a circle and invite anyone who felt led to come and receive prayers from others. This was called “sitting in the Father’s lap”, and to be quite honest at first I thought this expression was somewhat “mushy”, but year after year “sitting in the Father’s lap” proved for many people to be their most powerful encounter with the love of God, and theologically it is exactly what John 1:18 is teaching.

Where John commenced his account in John 1:1 with language about “God” he consummates it in 1:18 with calling God “Father”, the final revelation of “God” is not “God” but “Father”. The Spirit communicates the warm and tender relationship between Jesus and his Father to us; “God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts crying, “Abba! Father!” (Gal 4:6).

When John says the one “in the bosom of the Father” “has made him known” he means that the mystery of who God is has been laid bare for all to see in the person of Jesus. The invisible God has become visible the hidden God has appeared in unsurpassable form (John 5:37; 6:46; 1 Tim 1:17; 6:16 cf. 1 John 4:12, 20). The great mystery which has puzzled wise men and sages over millennia has been fully and finally revealed through the flesh of the Son of God.

Application and Conclusion

This revelation of the deep things of God speaks directly to many of the confusions of the Church in Australia today. Western Christianity has long been suffering from a self-confidence that is the exact opposite of the humble flesh of the Word of God. If intellectual arrogance was introduced into theology by ‘Enlightened’ Europeans, Church as-a-business has been learned from the Americans.

In speaking of that terrible pride of unsanctified flesh which is the exact opposite of the humility of Christ the KJV uses the word “vainglory”. Unlike our vainglorious and stubborn fleshliness the flesh of Jesus always turned in loving obedience to the Father. The key question is how do we become more like Jesus?

We need to bring together the insights of John 1 with the teaching of Paul.

Remember it was Paul who taught us that “the great mystery of our faith/godliness, was manifested in the flesh” (1 Tim 3:16).

We share in the godliness of Jesus when by grace our naturally useless flesh is united with the flesh of the Word in his constant turning to the Father.

When in our daily sufferings as enfleshed people we are united with the human Jesus is his dependence on God we share in his resurrection power (1 Cor 15:31; Phil 3:10).

This sort of deep connection never happens in comfortable circumstances.

One of the missionaries we support is down from Indonesia at the moment and she shared with me during the week how it was only when she was in hospital with typhoid that the Lord was able to speak to her clearly about a critical situation in her team.

The Word is most real when our flesh acknowledges its weakness.

Often I have heard people cry, “If only we had more signs and wonders we would have revival.” These folk are sincerely confused. They fail to understand that it was only as Jesus, Paul and every other godly figure I can think of, turned to heaven in consciousness of their enfleshed weakness that power came from above.

Only a Church immersed in the godliness of the enfleshed weakness of the Word will turn in his lowly obedience to the Spirit of God for acts of extreme power, receive them in abundance and persevere in maturity and continuous revival.

The renewal of the power of the Word in the Church will only come when we have a revelation of the fullness of the weakness God the Word embraced for us.

Paul lived out this mystery; “lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power…..I was with you in weakness and fear and much trembling….Who is weak, and I am not weak?” (1 Cor 1:17; 2:3; 11:29).

All who live in the light of the Word made flesh will through him light the way to the Father.

If we know we are living with Jesus “in the bosom of the Father” the invisible God will become visible through us (John 14:21-23; 16:16-19, 22; 20:18, 25 cf. Col 3:1-3).

This is the key to a revolution in witnessing.

In John’s Gospel the word “witness” is a legal term for a counter-witness against the world’s false witness against Jesus.

When I was a child no media outlet at Christmas time would dare challenge the claims of Christ to be the way to the Father; those times are well gone.

We are in a season when it is becoming increasingly difficult to be a Christian and the Lord is calling us back to the revelation of the mystery of his own humble enfleshed life.

The mystery of God the Word made flesh is too great to be grasped by any human being, but we can be grasped by it so that we are constrained to communicate it

(Acts 4:20; 2 Cor 5:14ff.)

The revelation of the mystery of the glory of God comes in only one way, through intentional focussed and sustained prayer. This is a priority the Lord has set for my life in 2016 and I am sure he has set it for his whole Church.

References

↑ 1. John 3:16
↑ 2. v.16

Happy Holiday

by Dr. John Yates

Personal Matters

I have never felt happier with God than at this stage of my life and the abiding presence of his goodness is growing ever stronger. The root of these feelings stands in stark contrast to the spirit of the age and our contemporary Christian spirituality. My understanding about what is happening in me was helped by an expression of A.W.Tozer; “My plea is for a great seriousness which will put us in mood with the Son of Man and with the prophets and apostles, that we may attain that moral happiness which is one of the marks of spirituality.” Only a prophet could connect morality with happiness but Christmas is exactly the season to make such a connection.

Whether the greeting is the traditional “Merry Christmas” or the secularised “Happy Holidays” the festive season means maximised enjoyment for most Australians. It is all about having a good time.  Yet something is not quite like it usually is. Gathering clouds are dulling the summer sunshine we intensely love. Economic news is gloomy, terrorism has invaded our own shores and murder and massacre in Pakistan, Nigeria and France challenges our drowsiness. The (alleged) murder of 7 children by their mother in Cairns is appalling and raises deep questions about the sanity of our world. The whirling of such troubles will either bring us closer to the Truth of Christmas or feed our cynicism about the goodness of God.

Popular Happiness

Human nature being what it is people will always choose what they believe is the very best for them, their “highest good”. When Paul remarks; “If the dead are not raised, Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”” (1 Cor 15:32) he is commenting on a society like ours where the highest good has become pleasurable experiences. Few Australians would question the assumption that we are entitled to be happy and everyone wants to feel good about themselves. Life’s quest has become maximising the good life from cradle to grave.

Even more troubling is the Christian form of this popular happiness, one that wants Christ’s cradle without his cross. This type of Christianity treats Jesus as a sort of consumable who exists to make our lives better and promises us more health and happiness in the daily affairs of life. The superficiality of this spirituality is exposed when our worldly affairs take a turn for the worse; “consumer confidence” = “faith” in these sorts of churches rises and falls with the doctor’s report and the stock market. This is vastly different to the life of God revealed in Jesus.

God’s Happy Goodness

God has been eternally happy because he has forever delighted in his own goodness. In this delightful goodness the world was created; “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good….rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the children of men.” (Gen 1:31; Prov 8:31). Whilst God’s own goodness is the very essence of his existence the fallible creation would soon become fallen. (Ps 136:1). The manifestation of the infinite goodness of God awaited the angelic declaration of the “good news to all mankind” of the incarnation and birth of his own Son (Luke 1:19; Luke 2:10). The rejoicing filling the atmosphere at the first Christmas beams out the reality that “the goodness and loving kindness of God our Saviour appeared” with the birth of Jesus (Tit 3:4). God’s own goodness is now in human form. When Christ came into the world the Father felt infinitely pleased in/with himself for this at last was his ultimate “good…and perfect gift” to the world (James 1:17). Christmas is the beginning of the gospel.

The final expression of God’s goodness is contained in the good news that God our Saviour who was born has suffered, died and rose again for us (1 Cor 15:1-4). The outcome of Jesus’ life, his indwelling the complete happiness of the Father, is the full and final evidence that “in everything God is working for the good of those who love him” (Rom 8:28; Heb 12:2). This is God’s own moral happiness. From first to last the Lord’s relationship with us is a good one; “The goodness of God is the drive behind all the blessings He daily bestows upon us. God created us because He felt good in His heart and He redeemed us for the same reason.” (Tozer). These deep truths call us to re-examine our experience of the goodness of God.

The Mystery of Happiness

When Moses craved the presence of God and asked the LORD for a manifestation of his glory he received this reply ““I will make all my goodness pass before you”” (Ex 33:15, 18, 19). Those who would see the glory of God must seek his goodness. Through Jesus a revelation far greater than what has offered Moses has come to us (John 1:17). The angelic promise to Joseph was Immanuel, which means “God with us” (Matt 1:23). The measure of this promised presence is not confined to the celebrations of Christmas Day; it is the promise of an abiding sense of the goodness of God. This constancy of God’s presence is independent on the circumstances of this world (2 Cor 12:10). As long as I take the “eyes of my heart” off myself and put them on to the final revelation of the Father’s goodness in Jesus all is well (Eph 1:18). This experience involves a deep mystery in Christ that is well summed up in the words of medieval mystic Julian of Norwich (Col 1:27). The Goodness of God is the highest prayer, and it comes down to the lowest part of our need. It enlivens our soul and brings on it life… “. Let me try to interpret these words in a more openly Christ-centred way.

The incarnate Goodness of God came down to our lost nature in the birth of Jesus and enlivened our broken souls through his resurrection from the dead. As we rest in Jesus we know the abiding presence of the goodness of God; the fruit of such a spiritual presence is enduring happiness (John 15:4, 11). This is far far greater than “Christmas cheer”. Such an “uncontrollable happiness….sent men singing to prison and to death…” (Tozer cf. Acts 16:25). This happiness is an unconquerable share in the Father’s pleasure in his Son and it is the spiritual power of the presence of God a feeble Church and troubled nation needs today.

Conclusion

The Spirit of Christmas calls us to let go of the question, “Is God happy with me?” and to inquire, “Am I happy with God?” To approach this question in a Christ-centred way swells our hearts with a sense of the goodness of God and the moral happiness belonging to us in Jesus. Such unlimited goodness was first birthed for us over 2,000 years ago. It is the pleasure of the Father to share with us now a real measure of the unlimited moral happiness in which we will delight forever and ever. Amen.

Brothers and sisters, stop trying to work out whether God is happy with you and turn away from all elements of consumer Christianity. The Father’s happiness in “the man Christ Jesus” is his good gift to us (1 Tim 2:4). This is the true Christmas message.

Christmas is a time of celebration

Christmas is a special celebration and remembrance of the time when the story of God coming to Earth became real.  The unique events of His coming with their mystery, simplicity and yet grandeur, make this the most incredible event of all time, the significance of which surpasses all else.  The angels brought tidings of great and lasting joy – how can we not celebrate?

Let us set the scene and remember history – HIS story, the story that needs to be told over and over, the only story that matters.  Let us go back two millennia…

It was a time of terror, of tyranny and treachery in high places, a time when evil appeared to be unfettered, a time of uncertainty, and a despot ruled in the Roman province of Judea.

In the midst of this a baby was born.  Amazingly, and in fulfilment of the prophecy, the birth took place in a tiny town called Bethlehem – because Caesar Augustus had ordered a census!  Heaven rejoiced, some special people from the East followed a sign in the sky and came to worship.  And some very fortunate shepherds witnessed the rejoicing of the angels and also came to wonder and worship.  Herod in his fury killed all the little boys in Bethlehem to be rid of this perceived threat to his throne but Joseph had been warned by an angel to flee to Egypt.

Well, from where we sit here now in Western Oz, things aren’t that bad.  But for the world it has again not been a good year with wars and rumours of wars, religion pitted against religion and the threat of holy wars.  Despots still rule in various places and terror comes closer to home.  May God in His mercy stay the hand of terror and tyrant.

At Christmas we come to remember, to wonder and to worship, as did Simeon and Anna in the Temple as they held and saw the baby Jesus.

Think about it.  The most stupendous event in human history – Emmanuel, ‘God with us’ – the Son of God in a manger – an event that even angels wonder at and long to look into.  Let us take time to wonder and worship.

Yes, Jesus really is the reason for the season.

The Paramount Gift of God

by Timothy Tay

Recently I made a careless mistake of switching our (my wife and I) mobile phone services from one telco to another with little consideration of the repercussions. When I was slapped with a huge bill that include the cancellation fees, full charges for the unexpired terms and the balance of the then latest smartphones costs that it had finally dawned on me the folly of my action.

My Christmas was ruined for sure I thought. Imagine going to the 2-bucks shop to hunt for Christmas gifts and holidaying in Mandurah rather than in Singapore?

My empathy begin to go towards the impulsive young who fell into the same predicament as I had which was driven, on one hand, by our own lack of discretion and, on the other hand, by falling prey to all the enticing marketing campaigns put out by the telco and smartphone companies.

Undeserving Grace

Nativity-Star

I rang the phone company and requested for a reduction of the charges but I was promptly rebutted for breaking the contract. I was devastated to think that I being a businessman of over 30 years that I could failed to read and understood the contractual terms – especially that which come from biggest telco of them all?

I thought to myself that this is probably a sign that my time in business is up now that I have lost the edge for wheeling and dealing.

However, just before the telco officer hung up he did say that he will take sometime to make the final decision regarding the matter. And today he rang and told me he is going to drop all charges – including the cancellation fees – in line with the spirit of Christmas! What compassion, what underserving grace, the very essence of Christmas.

What have you done?

Even now as my mind tuned to John Lennon’s hit that’s been played at this time of the year I realised that what I have done or failed to do over the past year paled into insignificance when compared to what God had done for us all when He gave us His greatest Gift on Christmas day. It is after all only after considering what our Father in heaven had done that we be led by this same spirit to do for all.

Have a blessed Christmas. Peace and joy to all near and far.
Timothy Tay

Ps.

December 23, 2011

Even today from the city of my alma mater, Christchurch, we received news of another series of major earthquakes.

This is the third time in less than two years that the city had been hit prompting one to wonder if there is still more to come. By all probabilities even three times in a row is highly unlikely but often three strikes is all it takes to dampen the most stubborn spirit once and for all.

Over the recent years the world had experienced unprecedented shakings not just in the physical but also in the financial, like the GFCs, but also in politics like the Arab Spring uprisings.

One cannot discount the possibility of more of the same from happening. If at the same time other major disasters should take place like global warming, medical and sociological epidemics and others you may wish to postulate – humankind worst fears had finally hit home.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33

We ought to celebrate Christmas and by knowing the will and purpose of God for this special day in history we will celebrate wholeheartedly:

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

The Star which the Magi followed to find the King of the Jewish people

by Ruth Marion Christmas Day, 2008

It is not generally known that a great deal of light has been thrown on this phenomenon in recent centuries, and much of what has been assumed about it has now been shown to be inaccurate. The “star” was neither mystical nor mythical! I have gathered information from many sources, all of which I believe are scientifically based, which will be detailed in a later version of this writing. Just the major sources are listed below with the Bible being the main reference as the details of the events the Christian world celebrates on December 25th are outlined.

Contents:

1.0 Introduction: Some pertinent ancient history
  go too a) The Creation of the Heavenly Bodies
  go too b) Abraham and Shem
  go too c) Moses and the Exodus from Egypt
  go too d) The prophet Daniel in Babylon
  go too e) What did the prophet Daniel teach the Magi to look for as the time drew near?
2.0 What did the Magi see and follow?
  go too a) The Magi arrived in Jerusalem and told Herod “We saw His star in the East and have come to worship Him.
3.0 Section
  go too Celebrate Christmas?
4.0 Section
  go too References

1.0 Introduction: Some pertinent ancient history

a) The Creation of the Heavenly Bodies

Genesis 1:14-16 says that God created the heavenly bodies, both fixed stars and moving planets, “for signs of seasons and days and years”. Before the Bible written record was begun by Moses with the Book of Genesis God declared his purpose to buy mankind back from the authority of the king of darkness, ignorance and evil, by sending a particular person, his Son, into the world to identify with man, obey all of God’s will for man perfectly, and then pay the price for everyone else’s disobedience to those commands so that the authority of God enforced by man as His regent could be re-established. 

He declared this purpose by the names He gave to the stars ( Isaiah 40:26 and Psalm 147:4), ordering them as twelve stages of a story told by the names in order of their brightness within each grouping (constellation) with the complete circle of steps or stages named Mazzaroth in Hebrew, Zodiac in Greek. Ancient storytellers explaining the story to their children around the campfire at night resolved the names into pictures for ease of location, but they are not formed like a child’s dot-to-dot puzzle exactly. 

Still the stars are located in the imaginary picture in the appropriate spot in the picture. For example, the beginning of the story is outlined in Genesis 3:15 where God informs the serpent of the enmity between the offspring of God’s enemy and a particular “he” who is the offspring of the woman, Eve, the mother of all living .

The brightest star in the Constellation of Virgo (The Virgin) is Zerah in Hebrew and Spica in Greek (Seed, singular), and is located in a sheaf of barley that she is holding. So the whole picture is about “The Seed of the Virgin”, introducing the hero of the story. He is shown as identified with the animals which would later represent his sacrifice until He came to sacrifice Himself: the Ox (Servant), called Taurus in English, the Lamb (Passover Sacrifice and the morning and evening burnt offerings to atone for sins among the people), called Aries, and the Goat (Scapegoat) called Capricorn, and finally as the Lion (King) known as Leo. Incidentally, the marker between Virgo and Leo to show where the story begins and ends was depicted as a creature with the head of a woman and the back of a lion on ancient pictorial representations of the Constellations.

This marker has given rise to many myths quite distinct from the original meaning, including the Sphinx of Egyptian mythology (head of the pharoah and back of a lion).

Psalm 19 begins: “The Heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night utters knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard; their (story) line has gone out through all the earth and their words to the end of the world.

The glory of God is His Son and His handiwork is not so much creation, which is more the backdrop for the play, but the whole drama of the redemption and restoration of man from the authority of God’s enemy. Paul in Romans 10:18 quotes these verses to show that all men have no excuse for claiming ignorance of God’s provision for faith in His gospel. 

Revelation 12:1 tells of a great sign appearing in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland (crown?) of twelve stars, in labour, being delivered of a male child, while a great fiery red dragon (fourth beast in Daniel’s vision in (Daniel 9) stands ready to devour the child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron (Psalm 2). 

 The similarity of meaning of the names of the stars in all the ancient languages was first noticed by a linguistics expert, Frances Rolleston, in the late nineteenth century. She carefully researched and presented in her book “Mazzaroth, or, The Constellations”, published in 1878, the facts outlined by Albumazer, the Arab astronomer to the Caliphs of Grenada (850AD) and the tables drawn up by Ulugh Beigh, the Tartar prince and astronomer, about 1450AD, who gives us the Arabian astronomy as it had come down from the earliest records.

It is a fact that these star-pictures have been known in all the ancient civilizations, and missionaries reaching tribes as far apart as Japan and New Guinea have told the story expecting it to be unheard of, only to be told: “We always knew the story, we just didn’t know His name!”

Sailors have used the Constellations as navigation aids from ancient times.

The story was perverted deliberately by Nimrod and his wife Semiramis who not only sought to control the world through gathering people into governable units called cities, but also set out to pervert the story by making the heavenly bodies themselves the objects of worship. 

The tower or ziggurat of Babel has been excavated and been found to house a planetarium probably designed for worship of the planets who came to represent the gods of the ancient world (JupiterVenus, …) 

The original Hebrew names are quite different: for example the planet called Jupiter is called Tzedek in Hebrew, which means “righteous, having right standing with God the Creator”.

b) Abraham and Shem

Abraham was a Semite from the line of Shem (which means the Name or character of God), the righteous son of Noah after the flood (see Luke’s genealogy of Jesus going back to Adam through Shem and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and later King David).  

Shem was 98 at the time of the Flood and lived another 502 years after it.

As the Patriarch of the Semites he was known by the title “MelechTzedek”, King of Righteousness, or Melchizidek in the English Bible, a priest of the Most High God.  Abraham was born when Shem was 390 years of age, and met Shem at his home in Salem well before he was 99 years old (Genesis 14-17), at which time Shem was still under 500 years old . He gave his Patriarch a tenth of all the spoils of a battle, as a mark of allegiance and respect.

Abraham may well have brought him news of the perversion of the Mazzaroth (Zodiac) in the Land of the Chaldeans, where he had lived in Ur on the Euphrates River, among moon- and idol-worshippers. Ur was one of the cities built by Nimrod, grandson of Shem’s brother Ham, who had ambitions to rule the then- known world. 

At the time of Abraham’s meeting with Shem, Nimrod had conquered and divided Mizraim (Hebrew for Egypt) and was changing them from worshippers of the One True God to followers of his new religion.  It was a situation Shem could not ignore, and strong evidence in ancient records has surfaced that Shem then travelled to Egypt and dealt with Nimrod by tricking him into getting into a basket, and then throwing him into the Nile.

His wife Semiramis, at home in Babylon, became pregnant by someone else and was hoping to pass the child off as Nimrod’s as he was soon to return. Instead she received news that Nimrod was now dead, so she invented the story that the child in her womb was supernaturally conceived as the reincarnation of her dead husband.

The child, Tammuz1)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tammuz_(deity , was then revered as a god, and she as the Queen of Heaven. Nimrod became the Sun god, and she the Moon god, and their child was also identified with the Sun.

Some of the practices associated with Christmas in Western countries have their origin in traditional pagan observances of the “ death and resurrection” of the Sun (Nimrod and Tammuz) at the winter solstice, around December 22nd, when a Yule (Old English for child) log was burned, and next morning an evergreen tree was decorated to represent his rising again.

Shem remained as ruler in Egypt (as the Pharaoh Cheops) and rekindled worship of the One True God.  He built the Pyramids in Giza (mentioned in Isaiah 19:19-20 as “an altar to the Lord in the midst of Egypt, for a sign and for a witness to the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt.”) which is on the border of Upper and Lower Egypt.  

Recent studies using computer simulation of the Heavens have found that the Great Pyramid, which was not designed as a burial place, has an ascending passage from what is known as “The King’s Chamber, and if this is extended by an imaginary line to the Heavens it would have been pointing at the time to the seven stars of the Belt of Orion, the strong man who is the Seed of the Virgin. 

In ancient times a man’s belt held his weapons and symbolized his strength and authority. 

Aerial studies have shown that the seven pyramids are in the same configuration on the ground as the those seven stars in the heavens, as if to represent the Truth come to Earth, to stand firm against its counterfeit, the false religion that Nimrod established and Semiramis embellished.

c) Moses and the Exodus from Egypt

Egypt subsequently returned to the worship of the Sun (Ra) and the moon and stars and planets and many animals also became “gods” – cattle, flies, lice, locusts, frogs, birds of prey… 

Some six centuries later a son was born to a Hebrew slave woman when the pharaoh had commanded that to control population growth among the Hebrew people there all baby boys were to be killed at birth. She hid him as long as she could, and then God gave her an idea. 

She made a water-proof basket, placed her baby in it and put it in the water of the Nile to go with the current. The baby was found by the Pharaoh’s daughter, who say him as a gift from the Nile god (Ra reflected in the waters of the Nile) and called him Moses, raising him as her own son. 

He was destined by the One True God to show the gods of Egypt’s for what they really were, subject to the True God, and to bring the Hebrew people out of Egypt to Sinai, in Arabia. 

Many physical features and artifacts have been found there and on the Gulf of Aqaba sea bed to verify that the nation of Israel crossed the Red Sea from the beach called Nuweibe to the coast of Arabia and thence to Jabal al Lawz, the highest mountain in ancient Madyan. 

The idea that the Exodus of Jews from Egypt did not happen is based on the fact that there is no archaeological evidence of a 12 month campsite at Mt Sinai on the Sinai Peninsula, identified by Queen Helena (mother of Constantine) around 350AD. Archaeologists have simply not been looking in the right place. In Galatians 4:25 Paul the Apostle makes it clear that Mt Sinai is in Arabia.

d) The prophet Daniel in Babylon

The Israelites finally found their way into the Land of the Canaanites, which the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had promised them would be theirs provided they followed His will and did not mix with other nations or turn from their God to worship the lesser “gods” of their neighbours. Solomon lost his legendary wisdom, a gift from God, when he married many foreign women to make political alliances and ended up worshipping their gods.

Within a few generations the nation was divided and both dynasties went from bad to worse, so were punished with slaughter by enemies and exile in disgrace, just as Deuteronomy 28:47 had warned them. The exile of the Southern Kingdom of Judah lasted seventy years. 

One of the princes, a prophet named Daniel, remained loyal to his God all his life, and was favoured by God with revelation from an angel about the future of the nation. 

He was told about the coming of the expected Messiah, and how to recognize his advent even though he himself would not live to see the events of that time. 

Daniel had been placed as the Rab-Mag (Teacher of the Magi) of the Magi, a position mentioned by Jeremiah (Jer 39:3 ;13) and trained them in the knowledge and expectation to be handed on until that time arrived. 

Daniel was a student of the Scriptures, and when Cyrus the Mede captured Babylon without a battle it was probably Daniel who gave him the scroll of Isaiah written many years earlier which prophesies his name, his rise and method of victory and the instructions he was to carry out to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem after the seventy years of the exile from Judea were over.

Daniel 9:24 on records the revelation the Angel Gabriel gave to Daniel of 490 years measured from the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (the city and its walls, which happened in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah.

This command was given on March 14th, 445BC. 69×7 360 day years later to the exact number of  days (173,880 days) Yeshua arranged to ride into Jerusalem on a donkey as King, for his time had come, and He held the Jewish leadership accountable for not recognising the fulfillment of what had been revealed to Daniel. 

Gabriel’s prophecy continued: “After the 62 sevens of years Messiah shall be cut off (ie executed for a capital crime) but not for himself…

e) What did the prophet Daniel teach the Magi to look for as the time drew near?

1. The number of years in days to pass before the Messiah the King would be revealed.

2. The Signs to look for in the Heavens. Numbers 24:17-19 promises that a star and a sceptre (of rulership) will come out from Jacob. In Genesis 49:8-10 the sceptre is identified as belonging to Judah, one of the 12 sons of Jacob.

Psalm 110:1-4  says that the Messiah will come “after the order of Melchi-Zedek ie King of Righteousness, or in the likeness of Shem’s role in executing justice and modeling Truth about the character of God.

In our time thanks to computer programmes which can simulate the movement of the stars and planets but in reverse, so that we can have an accurate picture of the heavens on any specific date, a lot of clues given in Scripture can be used to pinpoint the actual time and date of the conception, birth and circumcision of Yeshua the Messiah, and later the crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of our Lord.

2.0 What did the Magi see and follow?

There have been many theories over the centuries but none really fulfil all the characteristics and circumstances described in the Gospels. Some have proposed that it was a moving star like a comet, or a supernova.

a) The Magi arrived in Jerusalem and told HerodWe saw His star in the East and have come to worship Him.

The early Church fathers up to the Fourth century placed the birth of Jesus in the period 3 to 2BC. In the time of the Roman Empire the whole world interpreted happenings in the heavens as auspicious or a bad omen. In this time frame some very spectacular celestial events took place that were perceived as very auspicious for Augustus Caesar as Emperor over a peaceful and prosperous Empire.

For example, on August 12, 3BC in the pre-dawn and ten months later in the evening of June 17, 2BC, the planets Jupiter and Venus, the brightest of all the heavenly bodies from earth’s perspective appeared as one gigantic “star” in the Western sky as the full moon appeared in the eastern sky.

The conjunction of Jupiter and Venus was within the Constellation of Leo, the Lion, the central sign of Royalty in the ancient world. Jupiter was thought of as the King planet, but in addition there were a series of conjunctions of Jupiter (Tzedek in Hebrew) with the fixed star of first magnitude Regiel2)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rigel (Melech in Hebrew), between the feet in Leo, on the path of the Sun, also reckoned the Royal Star.

This happened first on September 14th, 3BC, and again on February 7th, 2BC, and again on May 8th, 2BC, with Jupiter appearing to make a circling effect above Regiel. The Roman astrologers interpreted this as meaning that Caesar Augustus, now in the 25th year of his reign and the 750th anniversary of the founding of Rome, could be given his supreme title: “Father of the Country”.

However, in Babylon there were Magi interpreting these celestial events in a very different way.

When on August 12, 3BC they saw Jupiter and Venus together in Leo, then on September 11th at sunset they saw the constellation of Virgo with the crescent moon beneath her feet, clothed with the sun as the sun was in the Constellation of Virgo from August 27 to September 15 (but for only one and a half hours was the moon beneath her feet on September 11th) and they also saw between the feet of Leo the coming together of Jupiter (Tzedek = Righteous) and Regiel (Melek = King) as “Melchizedek”,on September 14th, 3BC they knew that the coming of the King of Righteousness was being announced in the Heavens.

At sunset, between 6:18 and 7:39 local time was the beginning of the Feast of Trumpets, and the trumpets were being blown from the Temple walls in recognition of the New Year, while in a stable 6 km to the east in Beit Lechem (House of Bread), where lambs for sacrifice in the daily offerings in the Temple were bred and reared, a Jewish girl named Miryam was giving birth to her firstborn son, the Seed of the Virgin, to be named on his eighth day Yeshua (Yahoshua = Yahweh is salvation).

Trumpets were also ceremonially blown on the occasion of the birth of a Royal Heir to the Throne.

Leo was the banner sign for Judah, because Jacob had allocated all the Constellation signs to his 12 sons on his deathbed (Genesis 49) to preserve their meaning from the perversion taking place elsewhere. After the second and third conjunctions on February 17th and May 8th 2BC (Shavuot , Pentecost) all appearing in the west in the direction of Jerusalem the Magi prepared to travel in convoy from Babylon to Jerusalem, to find this King of Righteousness, to worship Him as the expected Jewish Messiah announced to the prophet Daniel.

They followed the direction Jupiter (Tzedek) was taking as it moved west in the sky in the latter part of June until they arrived in Jerusalem four to five months later.

This journey took Ezra about four months, but with much less pomp and ceremony, and they may have waited for the worst of the summer heqat3)http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/religion/heqat.htm to pass before beginning their journey..

The Hebrew word for “star” refers to a shaft of light appearing through a hole in a dark canopy, so there is no distinction between a fixed star or a moving planet.

In December 1980, Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles was the first in modern times to display the new astronomical drama that was occurring in the 18 month period from May 3BC to December, 2BC, and by 1990 at least 600 planetariums around the world were showing these events in their December displays.

When the Magi arrived in Jerusalem they were treated very seriously.

They were not “astrologers” in the modern sense of the word, nor did they practice forbidden arts.

Herodotus tells us they were originally one of the six tribes of the Medes, a priestly caste similar to the Levites among the Israelites, and their occupation was to provide “divine” information about daily matters involved in government affairs.

Because of the high religious and political esteem accorded them by the peoples of the East they were able to overturn some royal powers in the 6th century BC.

Many Jewish people in the first century were convinced that the prophecies of Daniel would find their fulfillment in what we call the first century, according to the Jewish historian Josephus, who said it was shown in their sacred writings that about that time one from their country (Judea) should become governor of the habitable earth. Even the Roman writers Suetonius and Tacitus mention this.

The Magi had been influenced by Daniel towards monotheistic belief and were respected and admired by the Jewish people. They were used to being advisors to kings and princes so it was natural to them to head first to the palace of King Herod. How many there were we do not know; they brought three types of gifts: gold and incense as suitable gifts for a king and a priest as mentioned in Isaiah 60:6, but myrrh is associated with suffering.

This recognises prophetically his future as foretold to Daniel.

The Magi arrived in Jerusalem in December 2BC and on December 25th Jupiter stopped its westward course in the sky ready to turn eastward again, and from the viewpoint of Jerusalem it appeared to stop over Bethlehem, the place and even over the house where the young child was about 18 degrees above the horizon.

Yeshua would have been living in a house by this time and would have been 15 months old. It would have been the season of Chanukah at the time.

If Yeshua was born on September 11th , 3BC, He would have been conceived 38 weeks earlier around 20th December 4BC, right in the midst of Chanukah at the time of the New Moon.

This fits well with the calculation of the conception of John the Baptist 6 months earlier in June 4BC, after Elizabeth’s husband Zechariah returned from his service in the Temple.

We know from the Book of Chronicles the time of year that would have been, as the course of Abijah would have been the fourth course of the year (from the beginning of Nizan) which is usually in May.

The Light of the World was made flesh as the Seed of the Virgin during the Festival of Light. Herod felt severely threatened by the news of a supplanter infant King of the Jews, and ordered that every boy in the vicinity of Bethlehem two years and under should be killed.

The Dragon stood at the ready to devour the child, but God was one step ahead of him, and Yeshua was taken by Joseph, his legal father/guardian, to Egypt for safety until Herod died, just after an eclipse of the moon on January 10th, 1BC and long enough before a springtime Passover of the Jews for the mandatory 30 days of mourning to be performed, as Josephus described the circumstances surrounding his death.

At the time of Yeshua’s birth on September 11th, 3BC it was autumn, and time for the lambs conceived in the spring to be born. The shepherds guarded their flocks by night in the open fields around Bethlehem and sheltered in the limestone caves around camp fires if they were necessary in the wee small hours of mostly balmy nights with light breezes.

The rainy season was still 6 weeks away. Cyrenius (also called Quirenius) was governor in Judea at the time and had experience in Syria of census taking.

This census or registration was actually an oath of allegiance demanded throughout the Empire by Augustus Caesar, combined with registration for taxation purposes, and proclaimed in the summer of 3BC so that on February 5th, 2BC Augustus could be given the title Father of the Country by decree of the Senate and people of the Roman Empire.

3.0 Celebrate Christmas?

Yeshua was conceived at Chanukah in 4BC, as the Word made flesh and Light of the World, born on the Feast of Trumpets in the autumn of 3BC on September 11th at sunset, and 15 months later on December 25th, 2BC, also during the celebration of Chanukah, was visited and worshipped as King of the Jews by Gentiles of high social stature who recognised Him for who He was and is, because they had been well taught by revelation given to the prophet Daniel.

Yeshua was present in the Temple at the Feast of the Dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem (John 10:22) in 29AD, a few months before Passover 30AD when He was crucified, cut off, executed for the capital crime of blasphemy, as the Lamb of God.

Despite the fact that the enemy has tried to take these dates and turn them to his purposes, I believe there is a good case for the celebration of both Chanukah and Christmas (Festival of the Messiah) on December 25th, each year, to remember and worship God for the miracle of the incarnation of Yeshua as the Seed of the Virgin and King of Righteousness.

In the words of an ancient prayer quoted by Ernest Martin in his book4)Martin, E.L. The Star of Bethlehem: the star that astonished the world.  Portland, Oregon, ASK Publications,  1996. Garnier, J. The Worship of the Dead: origin and nature of pagan idolatry. London, Chapman and Hall, 1904. Available in State Library of Western Australia.

“The Star of Bethlehem”:
“From the cowardice that shrinks from new truth,
From the laziness that is content with half-truths,
From the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth,
O God of Truth, deliver us!”

4.0 References:

Bullinger, E.W.  The Witness of the Stars. Reprint of the 1893 edition, Kregel, 1967. Available Koorong Books.

References

↑ 1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tammuz_(deity
↑ 2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rigel
↑ 3. http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/religion/heqat.htm
↑ 4. Martin, E.L. The Star of Bethlehem: the star that astonished the world.  Portland, Oregon, ASK Publications,  1996. Garnier, J. The Worship of the Dead: origin and nature of pagan idolatry. London, Chapman and Hall, 1904. Available in State Library of Western Australia.