“In the olden days, God spoke to us from time to time by various means through the Prophets.”
It had been a long time since anyone in Israel had heard God speak. In fact, it had been four hundred years since the prophet Malachi had prophesied and died. After this, the silence of God had been deafening. Even an occasional unveiling of the Lord would have been most welcome. But the voice of the Lord to Israel ceased in the land leaving Israel in the dark in a spiritual Egypt. If the song had been written at the time, Israel’s lament would have been “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”
But after so long a wait, the wind of change had come. First came the angel to Zechariah, then to a young maiden in Galilee. And then the Spirit of God spoke to Elizabeth and Mary. Then the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. But this was only revealed to a precious few. The rest of Israel slumbered and groaned in its captivity. Little did they realize that the promised messenger who would prepare the way of the Lord had been born. The silence of Zechariah was over and soon the silence of God. John the Baptist had been born.
Several months earlier a man who thought He was Lord and God had spoken. He was a man of great authority and power. This great king, Caesar Augustus spoke. He made a decree that all the world should be enrolled in a census for the purposes of taxation. He spoke and it was so. The fact that there were civilizations beyond the terminus of the Roman Empire did not matter, or that One far greater than himself ruled in heaven did not come to his mind. He was Augustus. The whole world shook at his voice.
Little did Augustus realize how small he really was in the eyes of God. He did not realize that he was helping to arrange for the arrival of One far greater than Himself. Like Egypt’s Pharaoh in the times of Moses, he was but a little pawn on God’s chessboard. It is the way God deals with the proud. The result of Augustus’ decree was to get Mary and Joseph to a little town of Judea named Bethlehem where a special child was to be born of which it was prophesied in the second Psalm that “He shall rule the nations with a rod of iron.” Augustus though he was speaking, but it was really the voice of God speaking through him just as God would later speak through the voice of Caiaphas. If Augustus had had a clue about the results of his “decree”, he would have been as reluctant a prophet as Jonah, for God in heaven had His own “decree”. Augustus decreed in his power that he was about to become a distant second fiddle in world history.
In Bethlehem on that blessed day, Jesus was born. It didn’t even make the back page of the world’s news. But BC and AD are not in honor of Augustus or his little sidekick Herod. Instead this child who was named Jesus has divided time. A great miracle had happened. The One who had decreed the entire universe into being had become flesh. God spoke with His borning cry. God had spoken, and this humble cry spoke more power than all the Caesar’s who ever reigned, more wisdom than all of Greece’s philosophers, more beauty than thousands of Shakespeare’s sonnets, and more musically that the best Mozart, Handel, Bach, and Beatles could compose. The silence had been broken. God had spoken, not Zarathustra. No longer would the voice of God be limited to the rare occasions in the Old Testament. As it is written, God has now “in the last days spoken to us through His Son, whom He has appointed Heir of all things.” It is God’s clearest statement that He will ever make. We are also warned in the second Psalm to kiss Him “lest He be angry and you perish in the way when His wrath is kindled but a little,”
For those who know him and have accepted Him as Lord and Savior of all, this truth is the greatest of joys. The days of those who would be Caesars will soon come to an end. For the mouth of the Lord had decreed it in Jesus His Son, who is soon to return. For those who obstinately reject Him will soon find out whom they have been fighting. For God is going to make short work of them. And though they mock and persecute the Christians, they are but pawns in God’s hand who He will use for His own glory and for the good of the saints. Since He sustains the entire universe by His powerful word, how much more will He sustain those who He has redeemed by His own blood. This same child would experience our humanity and suffer our temptations, though without sin. This same God who has spoken in human flesh offered himself as the sacrifice that could truly cleanse those who believe in Him from sin for ever. This same Son was raised up at the right hand of God to make intercession for us. And He is to return to rule over an Empire that all the Caesars of history could hardly imagine.
God has spoken. Are you listening?