Just a quick thought on this Christmas Eve.
We often read Luke 2 when the Christmas season is upon us as an annual journey down the birth narrative of Christ. We have visions of a lowly stable, animals, shepherds, Mary, Joseph and the baby. We think of angels singing praises to God and perhaps wise-men coming from the East (should you accept they were at the manger, that is). But, while this solemn scene in our minds is not incorrect, we should be mindful that something else was going on that involved a supreme act of conquest by God the Father.
Let’s consider another birth narrative of Christ that is probably rarely read at Christmas time:
Revelation 12:1 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: 12:2 And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. 12:3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. 12:4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. 12:5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. 12:6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. 12:7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, 12:8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. 12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. 12:10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
It is clear, despite the heavy symbolic language, that this is speaking of the birth of Christ. How this manifests for a future event, I have no idea (assuming it is supposed to be understood as future at all). However, from our perspective, the birth of Christ was on a silent night – a holy night; all was calm and all was bright. Yet, for God, He was entering the world to reclaim His creation and effectively declaring war on the powers of darkness. As the angels sang in praise to the birth of Christ, they effectually announced to rulers of wickedness that their days were numbered. There was war in heaven, but the rulers of darkness prevailed not. If the veil of physical existence could have been lifted from the manger scene, you would see a spiritual battle unfolding. Not knowing how God would accomplish His conquest (through love and sacrifice), the rulers of darkness became obsessed with terminating this child. Herod took the first swing, but missed. When Christ entered His ministry, the satan tried to entice Christ to worship him and pledge loyalty to his kingdom. But, it was likewise a swing and a miss. Throughout Christ’s ministry, there were various attempts to shut Him down and even to kill Him. It wasn’t until Christ is apprehended by the Chief Priests (Sadducees) of Israel that He meets His demise. The powers of darkness rejoiced – the Son of God is finally gone. War in heaven was lost, but on earth, they declared themselves the victors and to the victors go the spoils. Yet, something wasn’t quite right.
1Corinthians 2:7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 2:8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
While the self-proclaimed victors were drunk with their perceived success, there began to be heard echos throughout the land – echos of an angelic declaration, “Why seek ye the living among the dead? For He is not here, but is risen” Had the rulers of darkness known what God was going to accomplish through the death, burial and resurrection of His Son, they would never have gone through with crucifying Him. But, God kept this secret. Christ was on a political mission to establish Himself as the King of kings and Lord of lords. Christ was on a redemptive mission to rescue His creation from the powers of darkness unto the kingdom of His glorious life.
This is why Christ is good news – the gospel. This is why the angels burst into singing, praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth and goodwill toward men. Indeed, Hark the Herald angel sing, Glory to the new born King!