Christmas War? Surrendering Hope
"The terrors they see cause them to surrender the hopes they embrace"
(2007 version at Why Jerusalem Is Troubled)
Last Week – The first bloodshed was at the hand of Herod the Great; innocent children were slain in an attempt to slay the newborn king of the Jews.
See it at War on Christmas - First Blood
To describe today’s opposition to Christmas in America as war may be a bit hyperbolic. To my knowledge, no one has resisted unto blood, at least not in the United States.
- Courtrooms are being used to outlaw all Christian symbols, not just crèches.
- Employees are being reprimanded for using the word “Christmas.” But they are also being reprimanded for using “Jesus” and “Easter.”
- Students are being disciplined for bringing candy canes with literature that explains the historical meaning of the symbol.
Sadly, the reaction of many professing Christians is fear.
“We don’t want to offend those who have power over us. Just keep quiet.”
In doing so, they have adopted the same position that the people in Jerusalem had when Jesus was born.
- They acted like a bullied people who were occupied by an enemy: limited in their expressions of faith in God.
- As long as they did nothing to cross Herod, they had peace.
One day, wise men from the east disrupted the calm, not just for Herod, but for them as well.
The Bible says that Herod was agitated –
- Used to describe still waters that are violently disturbed – Like a Jacuzzi today – John 5:4
I can understand Herod’s agitation
- Messiah’s appearance meant Herod was “going down” – His days were numbered
The Puzzle – Why was Jerusalem Troubled (Matt 2:3b)?
Why would the Joyous Message of Jesus’ Birth cause people to become agitated? Four Reasons …
People who have surrendered to tyranny are agitated because …
I.Their Ignorance Is Inexcusable
“Peace through knowing nothing!”
A.A Promise Given – Micah 5:2
- God promised an Davidic Governor who would deliver – A Ruler (MASHAL) we choose to please
1.We are forced to do the will of tyrants.
2.We are free to serve our Chief.
If serving Jesus is drudgery | inconvenient | a joyless duty, you are not serving Jesus.
B.The religious experts call Him a Governor who SHEPHERDS (POIMHN) His people
1.A Hired hand cares only for what he gets out of shepherding – John 10:11-12
2.The Shepherd Gives His life for the sheep
He will never forsake His sheep. – John 10:27-29
3.Herod was not shepherd
C.Multiple Signs Given – Luke’s Gospel
1.A Priest by the name of Zechariah
a)Made Silent in Jerusalem
b)Prophesied of soon appearance of Messiah / His son the fore-runner
c)His wife met the mother of Messiah \ d)When Zechariah’s tongue was loosed, it made the news – Luke 1:65
2.A band of Bethlehem’s Shepherds
a)They told what they had experienced
b)They invited others to come and see – Luke 2:17
3.A man name Simeon
a)Told people of promise that he would see Messiah before he died
b)One day, his expectation was replaced with joy. A woman named Anna also joined in.
c)They did not keep this event secret – Luke 2:38
d)His death, no doubt, raised the question.
4.The Men from the East reaffirmed the message, Messiah is born.
D.What more did Jerusalem need?
1.Why did they not ditch Herod and embrace the promised King? – FAITH!
2.Ignorance of your soul’s true need will not suffice
a)The Devil’s plan for your life should trouble your soul
b)Instead, the claims of Jesus Christ cause you to flee
3.What more do you need?
4.This world can give you temporary escape from its disappointment
5.This world cannot give you lasting joy and true peace
The Waters of your Soul will be agitated by the invitation of Jesus to receive Him for who He is.
- You may wish that you never knew
- “Ignorance, when it is willful, is criminal.”
II.Their Compromise is Impossible
No man can serve two master
A.In search of Moderation
1.In politics, the moderate maintains the status quo
2.In the Bible, moderation tries to harvest the best of both the sacred and the profane.
a)I am a Worldly Saint
Truth asks, “Are you Sinner or Saint?”
b)I am a new Creature, but I am under construction.
Truth asks, “Do you mean to tell me that Old things have not passed away and all things have not become new?”
B.The Merging of Light and Darkness
1.Herod manipulated the religion of Jerusalem. - It was Herod’s temple
2.The priests did the bidding of the state
3.Messiah could not appear in the temple without Herod’s permission.
4.The Middle of the Road does not belong to God
a)Both Elijah and Joshua told the people to choose
The Waters of your Soul will be agitated by the inability to hold on to two opposing masters at the same time.
- Elijah asked, “How long will you halt between two opinions?”
- When will you stop saying, “Tomorrow I will serve God.”?
III.Cruelty Is Unleashed
Satan does not give up without a fight
A.It is time to face Reality
1.We are enslaved to Herod
a)There are tyrants who want the souls of people – Like the king of Sodom
b)Entertainers who want more than your money
(1)In its most innocent form, amusement wants you to forget that God exists
(2)In its most vicious form, amusement will substitute fantasy for reality
c)Educators who want more than your time
(1)The hatred of church by the majority of our young people is due to a gospel-denying education
(2)Good becomes evil and evil becomes good
2.We hate our slavery
B.“We will yield to Christ when the tyrant steps down!”
1.Prison Ministry – Women who have been abused by their “boy-friends”
2.You can be free. “I know, but at what cost?”
Do you know what he is like when he is angry?
3.The Pharaoh did not give up without a fight
a)Moses came with the answer
b)Pharaoh’s response – more misery
c)The people’s response – “Give it up, Moses!”
C.What happens when the tyrant attempts to crush your Savior?
1.Herod gathered the experts
2.He demanded of them
a)Greek indicates that he did so repeatedly (Imperfect tense)
b)They did not surrender the information immediately
c)Yet none had the spine to say, “We will not betray our Messiah.”
The Waters of your Soul will be agitated by the fact that the tyrant will not hear the words, “Let my people go, that they may serve me!”
IV.The Choice Is Immediate
Opportunity Is not a Lengthy Visitor
A.The Seeker-friendly environment
1.Meeting God on your terms and in your time
2.Problem – Today is the day of Salvation
B.Now is the Best Time – 2Cor 6:2
1.The Best time was when the shepherds came - but who listens to shepherds?
2.The Best time was when a godly old man proclaimed the good news – but who listens to godly old men?
C.Jerusalem waited for the Wise men’s report, but that was too late.
1.The Messengers were redirected by God to go another way.
2.The couple in Bethlehem fled into Egypt. Bethlehem never again saw Jesus.
3.Herod did his best to ensure that Messiah did not survive
The Waters of your Soul will be agitated by the fear that one day, the opportunity for grace will pass
- If that day passes, what then?