Only One has ever said: I am the Light of the world.
Out of timeless darkness and disorder came the voice of Almighty God – Elohim. A world emerged – bold and big and beautiful to the applause and admiration of heaven’s hosts. As the foundations of the earth arose to its mighty measurements angels praised the excellence of animals and plants. Sun and moon illuminated the most magnificent of creation as man and woman walked in perfect harmony with Creation and Creator.
O Lord, Our Lord, How excellent is Your Name in all the earth. Psalm 148
Praise God from heaven,
praise him from the mountaintops;
Praise him, all you his angels,
praise him, all you his warriors,
Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, you morning stars;
Praise him, high heaven,
praise him, heavenly rain clouds;
Praise, oh let them praise the name of God—
he spoke the word, and there they were!
He set them in place
from all time to eternity;
He gave his orders,
and that’s it!
This song praises the Creator-God in all His glory and splendour. In the very beginning God spoke Light and brought order to chaos and darkness.
But deep down in a fiery pit of fury, a dark and evil cloud of smoke
billowed around a murderous plan. The enemy of the Creator – in frenzy arose, to destroy, defile, disable and divorce. In a moment of overwhelming deception, he devoured the crown of creation in disgrace and disaster.
Everything changed – rhythm interrupted. Man and woman ran and hid. Animals paused as instinct warned of the cruelty and chaos to come.
O what have you done? came explosions of blame in their minds. Through the blur of pain and confusion, came the Voice they knew and now feared . Where are you? He visited in love and longing to reach out, to comfort and cover, never to condemn, ready to forgive and talk it over.
Again the Creator spoke – to declare the Promise of victory, hope and grace. He spoke of One Who will be the Light forever. The One that restores all that was lost – a Messiah of love and salvation to rise in exalted victory over the enemy of God and man.
It was then that the battlefield was chosen. Not a plain set up in horses and soldiers – no guns, swords or atom bombs, nor the roar of canon fire.
A scorned hill outside Jerusalem with a cross, a man, a few shocked soldiers, and those remarkable women, silent in unspeakable sorrow.
Our world today is awash with fantacies of wonderful creative writers in all walks of life – good and bad. Max Lucado is a crowned Christian author who published a collection of Christmas stories. It is truly recommended reading and one of my favourites is: An Angel’s Story – telling the nativity drama from Gabriel’s perspective. It is such a joy to include a reading of one of his stories as part of our Christmas celebration to put the focus on Christ, right where it belongs.
Allow me to give you a taste of Lucado’s story, in my own words with emphasis on the blessing I received from his writing.
As Gabriel entered the throne room of the Almighty God, he bowed deep in reverence and worship. Stepping into the shadowless presence of his King, joy flooded his being en worship flowed spontaneously as countless times before. As the chief messenger of heaven, Gabriel stood ready for the words to send him off. He felt the joy and peace of God’s presence rising in his innermost. He knew that what he felt was the life-force of his existence.
He listened in awe, as the magnitude of the message became clear. Together with the rest of heaven’s beings, he knew how impossible it was for sinful man to enter the very place where he now stood.
He often witnessed the rituals and rules of animal sacrifices and other sacred rites, where the shedding of innocent blood had to clear the way for the people of God to worship in a small, dull, earthly replica of heaven’s tabernacle. Once a year, after all conditions had been fulfilled, only the high priest entered into the holy of Holies to plead for his people. Instant death followed arrogance and pretence. Only a humble and contrite heart entered the most revered place on earth.
Now, the King of Glory spoke again, just as in the days of creation. It is time to bridge the gap, to fulfill the promise, to crush the enemy, to win the war, to draw near as never before. Gabriel received the message and trembled as the impact of the words settled in his mind.
God Himself? He bowed again. Yes, God confirmed, I will go.
The Plan and the Player were ready, already since the beginning. Gabriel prepared to depart. As he left the heavenly throne, the music and voices of praise rose to fill the gates of the universe.
The message was delivered, quietly and lovingly – received in shocked surprise. Gabriel’s messag was clear, even the name. Jesus, you have to call the son of God, Yeshua, he told Mary. In the name was the one-word fulfillment of all prophecy and God’s answer to all need on earth – He shall save!
As he spoke to the young girl with a willing heart, the seed of God himself settled in her womb. In the obedience of one, the victory of heaven was set in motion. In a full understanding of the life of Mary, one can never again think that one person can not make a difference. Her obedience and humble submission to Gabriel’s message changed history and the destiny of mankind for all eternity.
One particular nightwatch of a few shepherds outside Bethlehem turned out to be the most significant of their lives. Looking after the lambs raised to be sacrificed, they heard the glorious announcement. Heaven’s praise descended and announced the birth of a boy in a stable. They ran, noticing a special star over the place that held the human body of the God of the universe.
Most other people slept through the announcement of His visitation to earth, not even realizing that their timeline was cut, their old customs and struggles were to change forever.
God came to announce the new order, the ultimate victory for every man. Still creation’s first gift, the gift of choice, remained unchanged. God visits only by choice!
The boy grew and slowly made Himself known. He lived amongst us, walked the paths, suffered the sorrow, proclaiming the heart of God. He offered life full of favour, free of fear. He taught the willing and fed the hungry. He healed the desperate and pleading, He forgave the condemned and hated, He loved the lost and lifted the lowly.
Need drew Him, humility impressed Him, faith evoked His power, unbelief angered Him. His words established the kingdom of heaven on earth, and determined history of the next centuries.
Just as the splendour of the earthly kingdom revealed in creation drew the fury of Satan, the power of the heavenly kingdom established by Jesus on earth in the hearts of the willing, evoked a hellish plot!
MURDER clouded Satan’s vision. The arrogance and pride that made him what he is, gave him the courage to set out and ….. kill GOD! He screamed and schemed. He fed on the blindness of the church and confirmed his plan in unbelieving rulers.
Again the world was sleeping when, in the darkness of Gethsemane, the son of God struggled with his destiny …. and won. Was it Gabriel, the majestic messenger, that visited the garden to impart strength for the ultimate sacrifice?
On the cross His cry of anguish became the victory of the unshakable kingdom – creation reconciled. Satan roared in premature celebration as darkness descended for three hours on that bleak and black Friday outside Jerusalem. But the Deceiver deceived himself. Death could never be his victory.
Death only emphasized life.
Was Gabriel the powerful Angel of Revelation 5?: [The Message]
I also saw a powerful Angel, calling out in a voice like thunder, “Is there anyone who can open the scroll, who can break its seals?”
Heaven went silent. In motionless anticipation they waited. Through the colossal pillars of the glorious throne room, Jesus entered and took the scroll. The 24 elders and the four living beings fell down and sang a new song, a song that has never been heard before:
You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, for You were slain and have redeemed us to God by your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation. Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honour and glory and blessing!
Gabriel joined in the praises of the 24 elders and the living beings singing :
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God the Almighty – the one who always was, who is and who is still to come.
Praises flowed spontaneously from all the heavenlies. Victory was complete, the price was paid. Everything was new and perfect as in the days of creation. Man walked with God again. In the poverty and persecution of the first church, the miraculous power of the glorious throne room flowed through those Christian pioneers to encourage and enable.
Over more than two thousand years, God’s people carried a message of love and salvation. Outwardly, the church had many faces, many vices and many voices. Inwardly, looking with new eyes – anointed eyes – the message to the shepherds is echoing in the hearts of millions. That message is the true one, the life-changing one, the rock of truth that stood the test of time. Just as the Voice of the Almighty established the earth in its foundations, His Word still sets the foundation of His true church.
Tonight you have heard the angels singing, you have heard the announcement of His birth made, exactly as it has been done for two thousand years, every year, since the first one.
Have you for one moment thought that He has ceased calling His flock? Why would God suddenly be silent? Where are you? Out in the fields, looking after the sheep and thus awake? Or fast asleep, unaware that the God of the universe is calling out in song and celebration to all of mankind?
Do you have the ears to hear, the eyes to see? Can you see through the decorations and the too-well-known songs? Can you hear the Voice of Love?
Be greatly blessed this Christmas season.