On this night – Christmas Eve – our thoughts naturally turn back to the fields outside Bethlehem where the angels announced our Savior’s birth.
For generations the people of Israel had held on to the hope that God would send a deliverer, a Savior. After all, that had been his pattern from long ago.
When famine had struck the known world, and Jacob and his sons and their families were desperate to find food, God had already raised up Joseph to a place of authority that allowed him to both shelter and feed his family in Egypt.
Years later, when the Egyptians enslaved Jacob’s descendants, God raised up Moses to lead his people out of bondage, to a land he had promised their forefather Abraham centuries before.
And when Moses died, God raised up Joshua to lead the people across the Jordan and into Canaan, just as he had promised
Throughout Old Testament history, God often involved himself in Israel’s dire situations by raising up the right man at the right time. We could talk of Gideon, and Samson, and Samuel. Of David, Isaiah, Malachi, and the rest of Israel’s godly kings and prophets. But while each of these were used mightily of God to teach, comfort, convict, or deliver his people, none provided what the people really needed. They needed a Savior, and not just any ordinary man. They needed one who could save them from their sins.
And so, on that night in the fields outside Bethlehem, God broke the silence of 400 years to declare that the right man had now come. Jesus, the long awaited Messiah, the Promised one, the Christ, was born, but not with the fanfare such an event would usually have demanded. Instead, in a preview of his humble life and humiliating death, he was born in a birthing cave attended only by his parents and some local shepherds.
Tonight we remember that night … that holy night. And we realize that the fanfare missing at his birth has nonetheless been happening down through the ages since that night. Through this baby, this Jesus, this Christ the Lord, the fanfare of transformed lives has been sounding forth in every generation so that one day, a people that no one can accurately number will be standing around his throne, praising God for his abundant grace to mankind.
Tonight we are simply rehearsing for that day, as we sing the praises of our Savior … Jesus Christ … born to save us from our sins.
Prayer: Father in heaven, tonight on this Christmas Eve our hearts are full of praise even as our lips are filled with song as we, with one voice, celebrate your faithfulness in sending Jesus, our Savior and Lord, Amen.
Photo Credit: "Candle" by Arvind Balaraman; Freedigitalphotos.net