I saw a recent hand-held sign from a protester on television with the words: “Which side of history are you on?”
With another Christmas approaching, I can’t overstate how relevant that notion is when it comes to Christ’s kingdom, which began 2,000 years ago and will one day see its wider fulfillment.
Christmas is a special time of year, by anybody’s reckoning. It isn’t because it’s winter solstice. It isn’t because it’s “sparkle day” as some secularists now want to re-label Christmas. It’s because of the birth of a baby. A very special Baby.
I noticed the other week that attendance at the gym I visit was much lower than normal. It dawned on me that this was indirectly related to His birthday. People are traveling, running around shopping, getting ready for Christmas Day.
Retail-wise, the merchants should be grateful for Jesus’ birth. Doesn’t the celebration of His birthday, explicitly or implicitly, drive up sales and save their businesses – year after year? The late D. James Kennedy once quipped that all the merchants should gather together on Dec. 26, hold hands and sing “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”
Philosophically, how would we know what God is like and who He is unless He revealed Himself first? Christians believe that is exactly who Jesus is – God revealing Himself to us in a Man.
Half a millennium before Jesus came, the Hebrew prophet Daniel foretold of a “Son of Man.” Christians believe that this son of man was Jesus – the name He used the most for Himself.
Here’s what Daniel said: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed” (NIV).
To anyone familiar with Judaism, this is an astounding prophecy. A figure “like a son of man” was led into the presence of the Almighty God, described here as “the Ancient of Days,” as one existing forever.
This son of man was given the kingdom, power and glory – things reserved for God alone. And He was given something else reserved for only God: worship, from those around the world.
How can these things be? Jesus is not “a god,” as the Jehovah’s Witnesses say; He is the God. He is the second person of the Triune God.
Furthermore, when He came in a corner of the Roman Empire 2,000 years ago, He established a kingdom that will never be destroyed.
Beginning with 12 men – one of whom turned out to be a traitor – Jesus established a kingdom that continues to this day. It now claims the professed allegiance of about one-third of humanity.
I view the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s “Messiah” as one of the high points of Western civilization. Based on Revelation, we hear these words: “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ … and He shall reign forever and ever.”
The elites of our culture today assume that the future does not belong to “religion,” as some prominent unbelievers have smugly said. I would counter that the past, present and the future belong to Jesus Christ. Even our reckoning of time centers around His first coming (dividing into B.C., “Before Christ,” and A.D., “Anno Domini,” i.e., “in the year of our Lord”). Our future marches toward one climax: His return some day.
When George Washington was a young man, he wrote in his own handwriting a Christmas poem that he copied from a 1743 London Magazine. Here are some of the lines from that poem:
Assist me Muse divine to sing the morn,
On which the Saviour of mankind was born …
Incarnate God our nature should embrace!
That Deity should stoop to our disguise! …
Oh never let my soul this Day forget,
But pay in grateful praise her annual debt …
What is Christmas? An “annual debt” of thanksgiving to God for sending His one and only Son.
Napoleon once said, “I know men; and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for him.”
And he also said, “I search in vain in history to find the similar to Jesus Christ, or anything which can approach the gospel. … Nations pass away, thrones crumble, but the Church remains.”
Despite apparent regress in the West, His kingdom still marches forward worldwide.
So the question is: Which side of history are you on? As a bumper sticker once noted, “Wise men still seek Him.” Merry Christmas.