Hi, this is Bernie Dake. You're listening to The Salvation Army's Words of Life. Welcome back to Words of Life, and Happy New Year. I'm Bernie Dake.
And I'm Cheryl Gillum. Today, sadly, is our final episode in our Christmas series, but I love the timing of this message. We spend so much time waiting for Christmas Day, and then it just seems like by December 26th, that excitement just goes poof. But today, we have a message from Major Mike Hawley, and he's going to focus on the fact that the birth of our Savior was just the beginning. Jesus had a whole life ahead of Him. So we pray blessings over you, your families, our radio station partners, that this year God would help you to see the extraordinary things that He's already doing in your lives, and that your relationship with our Heavenly Father would grow even deeper.
Thank you for listening, and Happy New Year. We are going to start this message today by reading Luke, chapter 2, verses 1 through 7. At that time, the Roman Emperor Augustus decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. This was the first census taken when Quirinius was the governor of Syria.
All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David's ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously pregnant. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son.
She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them. Thousands of years before these familiar verses were written, God promised the world a Messiah who would come to save us from our sins. Now, each Christmas season, we are invited to celebrate the fulfillment of this great promise. In Genesis, the very first book of the Bible, we read about the origin of humankind. And here, near the very beginning of creation, a problem is revealed which will dominate the story from beginning to end. God made earth. God made man.
All was good. But early in our human history, something happened which has made an impact on everything that has happened since. In Genesis chapter 3, verses 12 through 15, following what we know as the fall of mankind, we read this. The man said, The woman you put with me, she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it. Then the Lord God said to the woman, What is this you have done? The woman said, The serpent deceived me, and I ate it. So the Lord God said to the serpent, Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals. You will crawl on your belly, and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and hers.
He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel. This is the problem. Sin had entered the world through disobedience. But from the beginning, God had a plan for redemption. In the very same passage that describes the curse brought on by the first sin, we receive the very first messianic prophecy, the promise of the Messiah, the Redeemer who will crush the head of the enemy. God had a plan and a promise to deal with the fallen creation. Like a deadly virus, this thing called sin has awful consequences. God knew from the beginning what sin would do, and he warned against it. But once sin had been exposed and enabled, there would be a long series of healing events which would take centuries to restore everything to the original plan.
It started when he cursed the earth and the snake. For the man and woman, he promised a seed, a descendant, that would deal with Satan head to head in a fight to the finish. God's messianic promise here in Genesis relates to the line of those who were anointed, specifically the king of the house and lineage of David.
As we read in Old Testament accounts, the kings that followed were all too human, and too often they forgot that God was the true king and thought it was all about them. There was a natural longing for the perfect king yet to come. While these developments were taking place, there came another promise, a prophecy about one who would be unlike any other, with a distinct identifying quality, a measuring stick by which to verify if the forecast would in fact be true. We have celebrated so many Christmases that we may have gotten used to it, but this amazing promise is not something that had happened before or since. Isaiah 7 14 says, Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel.
A virgin giving birth? And there were more promises, more details. This one about the location where this would take place. Micah chapter 5 says, But you, Bethlehem, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. At the time of the prophet Isaiah, the assigned line of David's leadership was threatened by various enemy nations, but Isaiah promised that the line of Israel would continue. Isaiah 9 speaks of a king who would combine human attributes with those otherwise attributed to God. Isaiah 11 speaks of a new David from the root stock of Jesse who would be the perfect king in a perfect world to come. In Isaiah 53, the promise of the king is combined with the prophecy of a suffering servant who would bring justice and righteousness.
So from these prophecies, we get the following picture. There would come a son of David, of the house and lineage of David. He would not be a normal king, but would have humble beginnings, born in little Bethlehem of a virgin. And unlike David and all the others, he would be a perfect king. He would be known for his suffering and even death, and he would be a perfect king. He would be known for his suffering and even death, but would be alive again. He would bring together attributes both human and divine.
His kingdom would be the earthly manifestation of the kingdom of God, and he would fulfill the very first promise to deal with the problem of sin, Satan, and death once and for all. Like the prophecies themselves, there is a sense that the king will lead his people into the future. Thus, the new creation of Isaiah 11 enters the realm of this world, but also speaks to a time beyond history as we know it. Every single one of these promises and prophecies, some of which were given thousands of years before the first Christmas, every one finds its fulfillment in Jesus. The great promise of God coming among humankind is beautifully summarized in Isaiah chapter 9, verses 6 through 7.
It reads as such, For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace, there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. The child born will be the one who carries the government on his shoulders.
He will be the Counselor who is Wonderful, God who is Almighty, the Eternal Father in human form, and the Sar Shalom, the Prince of Peace, who establishes peace with us and the Father through his ultimate payment for our sins. And then the promise progresses. The birth of Jesus Christ was remarkable, friends, but it was only a part of the promise. Thirty-some years later, there was death by crucifixion and resurrection to life.
He ushered in the Holy Spirit so that we would have a partner on this earth, and through him, there has been a continual spreading of the gospel, this good news of Jesus Christ and his redeeming power all throughout the sin-sick world. The promise that would resolve the problem of sin and reverse the curse of the earth is being fulfilled, but it's not over yet. The history of events, unbelievable, remarkable events, which have already taken place, gives us confidence that those promises about the future, yet to happen and perhaps very close to happening, will also come true.
They include the rapture of the church, the tribulation and warfare on this very planet, which will involve the entire world population with Israel at the center of it all, leading to the second coming of the king and a thousand years on earth with Jesus on the throne of a world government. In Matthew chapter 25, Jesus was in conversation with his disciples and others about what's called the second coming. Here he was telling the story of bridesmaids. Remember, some of them ran out of oil and had to leave and go get some, and while they were gone, the bridegroom came to pick up those who were ready to get the wedding started. By the time the other girls returned, those who were ready had been admitted, and the feast had already begun. The door was locked.
They were on the outside and couldn't get in. Jesus's comment in Matthew 25, 13 was, So you, too, must keep watch, for you don't know the day or hour of my return. Jesus was telling his disciples, telling us all to be ready because the future day of his appearing was going to take place.
That was about 2,000 years ago. This lengthy amount of time is a sign of his charity, his love, his desire that everyone get a shot at making the right decisions after they're exposed to the life-transforming, life-saving truth. Yes, hallelujah, the day is coming when the curse in Genesis 3 will be reversed. God will win the victory over sin and all the death, wickedness, violence, and ugliness, and evil that it spawns. Are you ready for what this will mean, not only for the governments and nations and people groups around the world, but what they will mean for you personally and the people you know by name? Family, friends, and even those you may happen to live in conflict with. We preach the good news of Jesus Christ's saving power to everyone so that everyone has the opportunity to be welcomed into the feast.
Don't be like the unprepared bridesmaid or you'll find yourself locked outside. In this season, we celebrate the coming of the Christ child at Christmas. In a few months, we'll remember him as the sacrificed lamb at Easter.
But be ready, always be ready, ready for him to come as the Lion of Judah, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, when every eye shall see him, every knee bow before him, and every voice and every voice call him Lord of all. The Salvation Army's mission, Doing the Most Good, means helping people with material and spiritual needs. You become a part of this mission every time you give to the Salvation Army. Visit salvationarmyusa.org to offer your support, and we'd love to hear from you. Call 1-800-229-9965 or visit salvationarmyradio.org to connect.
Tell us how we can help. Share prayer requests or your testimony. With your permission, we would love to use your story on the show. You can also subscribe to Words of Life on your favorite podcast store or visit salvationarmyradio.org to learn about more programs produced by the Salvation Army. And if you don't have a church home, we invite you to visit your local Salvation Army worship center. They'll be glad to see you. Join us next time for the Salvation Army's Words of Life.
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