"CHRISTMAS, the anniversary of the birth of Christ, and its observance; celebrated by most Protestants and by Roman Catholics on Dec. 25; by Eastern Orthodox churches on Jan. 6; and by the Armenian church on Jan. 19. The first mention of its observance on Dec. 25 is in the time of Constantine, c. A.D. 325. The date of the birth of Christ is not known. . . . It is not clear whether the early Christians thought of or observed Christmas, but once introduced the observance spread throughout Christendom. Some Christian bodies disapprove of the festival."
Where does that leave us? We know that many of the Old Testament figures looked forward to the coming of the Christ, the Messiah. Job, for instance, although there were many things he did not know, or did not understand, had faith that he would one day see the redeemer, the Christ. You will certainly remember what he said: "I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another." (Job 19:25-27)
Let's get right down to business at once. Job knew the Saviour, the Redeemer, the Messiah. Do you? That is the most important question anyone can ask himself, and until that question is answered, it should be the first order of priority. Tend to it today, by coming in faith and repentance for your sins, and ask Him for forgiveness, for pardon, through the precious blood He shed on the cross of Calvary.
Job knew of the coming Redeemer. Moses wrote about Him in the very first book of the Bible, Genesis. The Psalmist knew of Him. Isaiah had wonderful visions and revelations concerning Him. Let us look at that first prophecy in Genesis 3:15: "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."
Let us look quickly at just one or two of the prophecies of Isaiah. You are familiar with the wonderful description found in Isaiah 9, verses 6 and 7. "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."
In Isaiah 11 there is a long passage that could well occupy all our time today, but let us look at just a part of it. Verse 1: "There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. . . and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth."
Then in Chapter 42 the first three verses are of particular interest and importance to us who are Gentiles. "Behold, my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench."
When the Wise Men came to Herod to ask where the "King of the Jews" was to be born, he had not the foggiest idea, himself, for he was a very wicked man with little or no interest in spiritual things, but he was shrewd enough to know where to ask. He gathered together, as we read in Matthew 2:4, "all of the chief priests and scribes of the people together, [and] he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea." And they cited the reference in Micah 5:2.
We may ask, then, if these religious leaders knew where Christ was to be born, what did they expect Him to be like? That question should be easy to answer. Israel was under the heel of Rome, and they were smarting at the indignities they were suffering. For them the Messiah was to be an earthly ruler who would deliver Israel from the Romans, and bring back the glory of the Israel of the time of David and Solomon. Well, we know that Christ did not come for that purpose, but to preach the Gospel of salvation from sin and holy living, of divine love and forgiveness, and putting the "kingdom of God and His righteousness first in our lives."
What do many people today, professing to be Christians, think Christ came to do? Many of them seem to feel that He came to bring them material prosperity, to give them all kinds of power over sickness, and to take away every problem and difficulty. Now we know that He can and does do many wonderful things in answer to prayer, and promises great blessings to those who love and serve Him, but He does not promise wealth and physical healing to all who serve Him. He promises something much greater and more wonderful. He promises forgiveness, cleansing, and eternal life. He promises life worth living, and an eternity with Him.
If you have not yet experienced His forgiveness and cleansing, or if you have once known the Saviour and wandered away into a careless life of concern only for the things of today, with little or no thought of the future, make it the first order of business at this Christmas season to seek the Lord with all your heart, and surrender to Him. It will be the beginning of days for you.