El Dorado News

November 16, 2018
El Dorado News Times

From the pulpit, 12-02-17

This article was published December 2, 2017 at 5:00 a.m.

Ancient Words —

Christmas Miracles

A miracle is defined as an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause. Such an effect or event manifesting itself is considered as a work of God. For the young virgin girl, Mary, to be found with child is clearly a miracle. The personal announcement to Mary and Joseph by the angel, Gabriel, is clearly a miracle. The birth of Jesus in the Bethlehem manger then follows as the culmination of several former miracles, resulting in the most powerful day of recognition by most of the world’s population — Christmas Day.

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The event of Balaam’s talking donkey in Numbers is a miracle and Balaam talking back to the donkey is….well…not a miracle but does place Balaam on the same level as his donkey. Balaam, now, will be used by God as a “donkey” as oracles of God will come from his mouth just as words came from the donkey’s mouth. In the fourth oracle, Balaam prophecies that … “a star will come out of Jacob.” For God to speak through Balaam is no less of a miracle than the ass talking back to his master. The miracle of the oracle sets on the Bible page a visual of what will occur thousands of years later when wise men from the east follow a star to Bethlehem-Ephrathah.

Daniel’s visit with the angel Gabriel is a miracle. At the end of Daniel’s prayer, Gabriel comes to him in swift flight and announces that Daniel’s prayers have been heard and acted upon. Gabriel gives understanding to Daniel to know when the Anointed One will come using a timeline of “sevens” beginning with the issuing of the decree.

This time prophecy by Gabriel is indeed a miracle and lands on the year 2 BC – the exact time the wise men would later give Herod as the time that they first saw the star. Isaiah spoke of this coming star as well when he wrote, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light as dawned.” And then Isaiah explains, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.” Who is this child but none other than the one spoken of two chapters earlier, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

Micah is bearer of yet another miracle of Christmas as he writes God’s own words. He writes, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, 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.”

This is the Bethlehem of Judea, the Bethlehem of Ruth, Boaz, Obed, Jesse and David. This is where the root springs up from the stump of Jesse, where the star of David will appear. This is the house of bread delivering the bread of life. A miracle is going to happen in Bethlehem and he who feeds on this bread will never die.

All nations will bow to this Savior and we know this will take place. But in fact, this has taken place through a miracle in the town of Bethlehem on Christmas night. Wise men and kings from the east came having followed the star of Jacob for two years. These men, each a descendent of Tarshish, Sheba and Seba (Psalm 72) bring gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh — each gift speaking to the babe’s destiny. No happenchance here … these men in turn are descendants of Shem, Ham and Japheth who are the fathers of all and every nation on earth.

God would have it no other way … attendance to this birthday party was orchestrated by God himself, using angels to speak and direct and counsel — miracles were in abundance on Christmas Day and rightly so. For the King of Glory left heaven’s throne and descended to common man on mortal earth and displayed himself in a wooden crib reminiscent, as God would have it, of Noah’s wooden ark.

Creatures are watching for they have been beckoned by their Creator as no room in the inn was found. Kings of the earth display gifts for the King of Kings. Shepherds pay homage to the Chief Shepherd and Master after hearing the joyful announcement through splendid angelic chorus … and that with a front row seat! The star of Jacob lights the entire birthday event. No internet, no twitter … just God’s amazing display and convergence of miracles on display, designed to introduce His Son and our Savior on Christmas Day!

(Scott Johnson is pastor at East Faulkner Church of Christ and author of the BRG Bible).

• • •

Sparks From The Gospel Anvil

John 1:1-18

The “Word” is the title given to the Lord Jesus Christ in His pre-incarnate state, before He was clothed in the flesh (verse 14 brings this out). The term does not appear in the Old Testament and only seven times in the New Testament. The Apostle John is the only writer that uses this term – four times in John 1:1 and 1:14; twice in 1 John 1:1 and 5:7; and once in Revelation 19:13, “And He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and His Name is called the Word of God.”

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Our English “Word” comes from the Greek word, “Logos.” The expression, “Word,” carried a special meaning in Biblical times. To the Jewish Nation, “Word” meant power. The message of the prophets was the “Word of God.” God spoke the world into existence by His “Word.”

The Word of God produced results as in Isaiah 55:11 which tells us, “So shall My Word be that goeth forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”

And according to Jeremiah 23:29, the Word of God could burn like a fire and shatter like a hammer. To the Greeks, “Word” meant principle. It was the rational principle, the rational mind, that ruled the universe. To the Christians, then and now, “Word” means proclamation.

The very preaching of the gospel was the ministry of the “Word,” (reference Acts 6:4). But above all, the Word of God is personal. God has something to say to mankind. He said it through a person, that person being the Lord Jesus Christ (reference John 1:18), “No man hath seen God at anytime; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.”

Of all the ways God has spoken to humanity, Jesus Christ is His supreme communication, His last word to humanity. (reference Hebrews 1:1,2) “God ,Who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds.”

Have you ever wondered about the “Word?” Think about it, He is the vocal “Word.” God speaks in two primary ways – through the written Word – the Scriptures and through His Son, the Living Word! He is God’s perfect, complete and final revelation to humanity. If man does not choose to listen to Christ, God has nothing else to say.

Have you ever seen the commercial that used to come on the television and it said that when E. F. Hutton speak people listen. Well, God speaks and people still don’t listen today. When Christ was transfigured, God the Father spoke from heaven and said, “This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased – Hear ye Him.”

Moses, who represented the law and Elijah, which represented the prophets, had to step aside for Christ. Jesus is God’s final answer to all of life’s questions. Christ is also the visible “Word.” The Bible says He became tabernacle in human flesh, (reference John 1:14; 1 John 1:3; John 1:18). In the bosom means Christ was face to face with the Father. The phrase “He hath declared Him,” means Christ has revealed God to man.”

If you want to know what God is like, look no further – just look at Jesus. John 14: 1-9 gives us a great insight into this truth, Christ is God visible! Reference Hebrews 1:3, “Who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His Person…” Christ is also the victorious “Word.” The last reference to Christ as the “Word,” is in the last book of the Bible, and declares Him to be the victorious Word! Revelation 19:11-16 shows us that. That rider on this white horse is the Lord Jesus Christ. Look at the titles given to Him. He is called Faithful and True; The Word of God; and King of Kings and Lord of Lords; this can be none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. There really is victory in Jesus, if you live for Him and abide in Him, He will abide in you. Are you living for this Word today?.

(Lieutenant Charles Smith is commanding officer of the Salvation Army of El Dorado).

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