As a pastor, I greatly enjoyed preaching and celebrating Christmas in July since doing so pulled its biblical prophetic/historical fulfillment and glorious truths out of the make believe secular cultural trappings of the holidays where it can be more deeply appreciated as the vivid reality it is. The same God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who personally came down to oversee and effect the deliverance of His people from Egyptian bondage, came down again robed in human flesh to save them and all willing men from slavery to sin and death to the glory of God the Father forever (Exodus 3:1-10; John 1:1-34, 12:27-28)!
As He suffered in His work to save us, so, we now suffer as those who labor “in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ” proclaiming and standing on God’s Word and His “testimony,” (Revelation 1:9, NKJV). In this second part of what was originally posted for Christmas 2012, look again to the witness of the saints that have gone before us as well as the “author and finisher of our faith” to be encouraged by Him and His example for what faithful American Christians as a powerless minority are about to endure in step with our brethren in many other nations (Hebrews 11:4-12:2, NKJV).
Originally Posted December 23, 2012
The silver lining in the incredible reversal of fortune Western Christianity and the faithful minority are suffering in these latter days is that it signals the near completion of God’s unfolding plan that began to be fulfilled at the birth of His Son that first Christmas. Jesus of Nazareth was born in Bethlehem as foretold (Micah 5:2), wrapped in common swaddling cloths and laid in a animal feeding trough by His mother, Mary, accompanied by Joseph, her husband (His surrogate father) that were ethnically, nationally and religiously oppressed as Jews (Luke 2:1-7).1
Shepherds of the lowest class stratum in Israel were sent by God (Luke 2:8-20) and Jesus was brought to a pair of patiently enduring faithful saints so they might behold and rejoice in Him born to save them ultimately from every source of oppression (Luke 2:25-38)! Confirmed in God’s fulfillment, Mary and a relative named Zacharias who was also a priest had earlier rejoiced in His faithfulness too (Luke 1:39-80). Knowing the Son of Mary was the long awaited Champion that was to come and bruise his head, Satan attempted to make a deadly pre-emptive strike against Jesus but God protected Him (Genesis 3:15; Matthew 2)!
As a Nazarene Jew, Jesus would grow up seeing and experiencing all of the bigotry, mistreatment and powerlessness that go with being part of an oppressed minority or nationality ruled over by those of superior numbers or might (He has felt my pain!). During His three and one-half year ministry He would encounter the three major layers of oppression upon His people: the kingdom of this world ruled by Satan, the wicked Roman Empire ruled by Caesar and the spiritually dead religious establishment of Israel ruled by the religious educated elite.
The Lord only directly and mightily engaged the demonic powers of this world oppressing His people with all manner of spiritual deception and affliction and Israel’s religious establishment who oppressed them with cold, dead and corrupt religion until the final hours of His ministry (Luke 4:1-13, 31-41, 5:30-6:11, 13:1-3, 31-33). Along the way in His service of preaching the Gospel and showing the glorious might of the Kingdom in great works of power, the Lord’s own family thought He might be mentally ill and tried to get Him to abandon His mission (Mark 3:20-21, 31-35); His brothers resented and despised Him in unbelief (John 7:1-9).
Not only did the religious rulers of His people want to kill Him, at times, the people wanted to do so too (John 8:48-59). However, the Father protected His Son till the time should come that He would undertake the final decisive part of His mission in which He engaged all three layers of oppression upon His people at once. His successful mission would first rescue the willing by faith among His people and the Gentiles from the tyranny of satanic oppression through sin and death and cause the promised judgment of Satan, “the ruler of this world,” to be another step closer to final fulfillment (John 12:27-33; 16:5-11; Hebrews 2:14-18).
As a minority of One, the Lord Jesus endured all that the prophets wrote in advance about His suffering before and on the cross (Isaiah 50:5-6, 52:13-53:9). He experienced the full oppressive weight of this world system’s might in the work of the powers of darkness through men upon His Person. Truly, for our sakes, they did far more to Jesus than any of His followers have or ever will endure! He even tasted what are now to us who have been born again, the horrors of spiritual death (Psalm 22:1-21a). Then, in accord with His and the Father’s plan, He ended His suffering and died triumphantly declaring the successful conclusion of His mission (John 19:30). His body was immediately buried but on the third day after He arose from the dead never to be subject to death again as foretold (Psalm 16:8-11, 22:21b-31; Isaiah 53:10-12; John 20:1-23).
Now, as the Lord Jesus foretold of His disciples beginning in the 1st century, fulfillment has reached us also that live in the latter days. We are persecuted by the ruler of this world and his human agents including in increasing severity our own unsaved, false and religious professing as well as Christian apostate family members who betray our love--so much for the successful measure of a man’s life being his devoted children (Matthew 10:16-26, 24:9-10). We are not to fear or become discouraged, but stand faithful to Christ as He stood for us until the end (Matthew 10:27-31, 24:13).
For all of the evil of these latter days is permitted by God as the testing of men’s hearts revealing their true loyalties and attitude toward Christ (Deuteronomy 13:1-4; Psalm 7:9-10, 11:4-6; Matthew 10:32-42; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12; Revelation 3:7-13, 14:9-13, 16:15). Truly, as my Christian slave and free forefathers along with all the saints of history have joyfully discovered, the Lord is a comforting refuge for the oppressed and powerless minorities that have put their trust in Him (Psalm 9:9-10). These evil days too will pass for the Lord will prevail for His people who have had the kind of prayer He taught us on our lips and patiently endured waiting on Him (Psalm 10:12-18; Matthew 6:9-13).
1 See my two-part blog, Jesus: The Jewish Messiah originally posted for Christmas 2013 under the category, Holidays, but reposted January 28, 2014 (after a satanic
interruption) for a fuller treatment of our Lord as an ethnic Jew.
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