Or Why Christians Ought to be a Lot more Jolly
First off, I want to wish the readers of my blog a very merry Christmas. Whether this is the first post you’ve read, or if you are an occasional visitor, or if you’ve read everything I’ve ever posted on here, or if you’re my mom, I really appreciate you taking the time to read and consider what I have to say, and I hope it has blessed you and been worth your while.
Evangelical Christianity used to have a bit more swagger. This has been a hard year for those who profess Christ and believe the Bible is the source of authority for all things. We’ve seen quite the news cycle both here in the US and around the world. Sadly, many Christians have grown discouraged and have simply shrugged their shoulders and assessed that what we are witnessing is merely “the signs of the times”.
It is an irony though, that this time of year, when we celebrate Christ’s incarnation, happens to be one of the most pronouncedly Christianized moments in the whole world and demonstrates that Isaiah wasn’t just writing day-dreamy poetry when he prophesied that, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this (Isa 9:6-7).” He meant that this was really going to happen, and that this Messiah, which a Virgin would conceive, give birth to and name Immanuel (Isa. 7:14), would in actuality rule the world. David, too, prophesied of Christ’s eternal and entire reign, “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth (Psa 72:8)”.
Stop for a moment, and look around at all the trimmings, caroling, shiny packages, scrumptious fudge, cider, lights, stars, angels, nativity scenes, and to top it all off basically the entire world has spent the last month or so intending to be generous to their friends and loved ones on December 25th in demarcation of a child who was “born a child and yet a king”. This is proof of Christ’s victory, rule and reign. Yet, many Christians seem to have traded in this good wine of Christ’s covenant that makes glad the heart, and settled for the sour grapes of an escapist eschatology.
You see, up until about 150 years ago, Christians were, on the whole, a lot more optimistic about history than we their descendants have shown ourselves to be. In fact, their whole eschatology presumed that Christ was the rightful King of the world, and that Satan was cast out and his kingdom overthrown and that history would one day culminate in the final consummation of Christ’s eternal kingdom. They were, as some have called it, “optimillenialists”…meaning Christ’s purposes for history are glorious, are ripening fast, and shall be our eternal happiness.
But round about the end of the 1800s, there rose a view point that was far more pessimistic and escapist regarding end times. With two world wars, militant materialistic humanism and the rise of post-modernist agnosticism, Christians began to think that things are just going to get worse and worse, and then Christ will finally suck us out of here before it gets real bad. So, we began interpreting current events through the lens of a “pessimillienial” assumption; in essence, things ain’t gonna get better, and we Christians are just gonna get more and more marginalized, persecuted, and finally Jesus will just have to rapture the remnant to salvage his redemptive purposes.
Again, the irony of all this is that it fails to look closely at the Book and at history to see that what Christ proclaimed He was coming to do (i.e. usher in His kingdom, and dispossess Satan of this earthly kingdom), is actually happening. If we zoom in to the grainy details of history, sure, it is grim. But if we zoom out–and that’s what has struck me most this Christmas–almost the whole world is celebrating the babe born in the manger, God’s Son, the Word wrapped in flesh, whose coming was “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord (Luk 2:10-11)”.
Our carols have better eschatology than we do. Just think about the fact that this month almost the whole world pauses and is content to listen and sing lines such as these:
Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room, And Heaven and nature sing.
Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns! Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains Repeat the sounding joy.
No more let sins and sorrows grow, Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found.
He rules the world with truth and grace, And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness, And wonders of His love.
Hark! The herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!”
Joyful, all ye nations rise, Join the triumph of the skies;
With th’angelic host proclaim, “Christ is born in Bethlehem!”
Come, Desire of nations, come, Fix in us Thy humble home;
Rise, the woman’s conqu’ring Seed, Bruise in us the serpent’s head.
Now display Thy saving power, Ruined nature now restore;
Now in mystic union join Thine to ours, and ours to Thine.
Come Thou long-expected Jesus Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us, Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation, Hope of all the saints Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation, Joy of every longing heart.
Born Thy people to deliver, Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever, Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit, Raise us to Thy glorious throne.
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, And death’s dark shadows put to flight
O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free Thine own from Satan’s tyranny ;
From depths of hell Thy people save, And give them victory o’er the grave.
For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
And He shall reign forever, forever and ever
King of kings and Lord of lords
King of kings and Lord of lords
And He shall reign forever and ever
Forever and ever, forever and ever
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Christmas is, as it were, a grand and glorious worldwide eschatological catechism. This season makes it plain that Babylon is fallen and Christ is King. The modern church is just as in need of this lesson as the rest of the world is. After all, we are God’s people, the citizens of Christ’s kingdom, and lest we forget, the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdom of our God and of His Christ (Rev. 12:10 & 11:15). Christmas-tide has come, and may it instruct God’s children that the “Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing,” also bears the scars of His atoning work, and though once dead, conquered death, and ascended to the right hand of God the Father Almighty, and now rules the nations with the scepter of His mouth!
Thus, be encouraged to press on through all adversity, trial, and all the political and social turmoil that we face. Christ has gone forth conquering and to conquer, and He WILL be successful. Christ’s incarnation was God’s first invasion into Satan’s kingdom, and in this war we know Who wins. So go deck those halls with boughs of holly, follow me in merry measure, and let heaven and earth reply to the angel’s glad tidings, “Come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord”.
My review of Iain Murray’s fantastic book “The Puritan Hope”
My review of RJ Rushdoony’s great commentary on Daniel & Revelation “Thy Kingdom Come”