Monday, December 16, 2013

Jesus, the Hope of Glory!

I understand “hope”, but what is GLORY?   What exactly is the “Glory” of God?  The glory of God is His splendor, His abundance, His fullness His honor…everything that embodies a perfect holy God.  The Glory of God has been revealed to this world through His Son Jesus Christ.  The Bible tells us that the “Son (Jesus) is the radiance of God’s Glory and the exact representation of His being”.

Yet, God’s glory was revealed from the beginning of time.  The book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus, the second person of the triune God “laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens were the work of His hands.  The Psalmist tells us that “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.  There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. 

And throughout the history of man, God continued to reveal His glory to a people He called out to be his own – Israel.   God revealed Himself – His splender, His abundance, His fullness - to His people through His prophets at many times and in various ways.  He revealed Himself with a cloud, or a fire, or wind or earthquake – He revealed His will and His heart by speaking to His prophets, who would then speak the Word of God to the people. Nearly 800 years before the Jesus’ birth, a promise was given through the prophet Isaiah.  He wrote, “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 increase of His government and peace there will be no end….”    A sign would be given: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call Him Immanuel”, meaning “God with us”!  God spoke through other prophets of His promises for hundreds of years.

But there was a day and time when God was silent.  He hadn’t revealed Himself corporately to His people for several hundred years.  Yet, God’s people Israel  – Generation after generation had heard the reading of Isaiah’s scrolls and continued to hope in the promise that he spoke of:  One who would bring a government of peace, bearing it on His shoulders:  They were waiting for the Christ, the Messiah, Savior – a Deliverer for His people. They had heard of the God of Glory – but had not seen with their eyes…

But in the fullness of time… 

 God had sent an angel to a young girl, Mary, betrothed to be married,  from Nazareth a town in Galilee.  He said, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.  You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.  He will be great and  will be called the Son of the Most High. … ”the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God”.  Mary believed and humbly received this announcement, then faithfully – “ May it be as you have said”…

Jesus, The Hope of  Glory  – His fullness, His spender brought to earth, in the womb of a virgin just as Isaiah had prophesied!

Mary’s betrothed husband, Joseph, had also had been spoken to.  The Lord appeared to him in a dream…do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins”.

Jesus, The Hope of Glory  – The Redeemer of Sins Revealed to a faithful man – confirming again Isaiah’s prophesy

So when she was great with child, because of Caesar’s decree for a census, they had to make the trip to Bethlehem… and Mary went into labor – And because of the crowds, there was no room in an inn –.  So the child of promise was born in a stable. Such a lowly and humble beginning for the One who was the “exact representation of the Father” – the Son of God –Immanuel - God Himself in incarnate!

That night, like every other night, there were shepherds in the fields keeping watch over their flocks. The occupation of shepherd was a very lowly occupation.  In fact, watching over the flocks in biblical days was usually the job of the youngest child in the family.  It was his or her first family responsibility. These shepherds were most likely raising the very lambs that were used in the temple sacrifices.  It was their job to ensure “lambs without spot or blemish” for the atonement for the sins of the people.  I read that often when a lamb was born out in the fields, it would be in danger of being trampled by the flock, so the shepherds would wrap them up in rags and place them in the animals’ feeding trough to keep them safe and from breaking their legs – so that they would be without blemish.    We all know the story – they were in the fields when  “an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were terrified…Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you: He is Christ (messiah) the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger”…then ‘a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace to men on who His favor rests.”  Once again, the prophets very words are confirmed .

So they hurried to find the baby – and I wonder if as they looked upon that child, wrapped in swaddling clothes (or rags), lying in a manger …Did they make the correlation?  Did they see their own little lambs wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger – the spotless lambs being being prepared for sacrifice for the sins of the people?   This moment would be forever etched in their minds – Perhaps 33 years later they would look upon that child as a man hanging on the cross and truly understand the….

The Hope of Glory, Jesus – The Lamb of God that takes away the sins of all mankind – Once again, the words of Isaiah confirmed, revealed to the young, poor, and the lowly

Then there were Wise men from the east – the Magi.  They lived in a far east land who know nothing about the God of Israel – if they did, it was only by word of mouth – He may have been a curiosity to them – they may have even heard of God’s promise of a deliver in Isaiah’s prophesy.  But they worshipped something else – the stars.  Their God was the earth and sky.  But remember, “The heavens declare the Glory of God and the earth displays His power.”   God revealed His presence, His glory, His splendor to earth by a star in the sky – The Magi were certain (not just hopeful), but certain that the brilliant star was a sign that a great king was born.  So sure, in fact, that they followed it to Jerusalem and asked where he was!  When they found Him, They gave gifts fit for a King, yet most importantly they bowed down and Worshiped Christ, the Messiah… no longer the earth and sky – but Him who made them!

Jesus, The Hope of Glory – revealed to wealthy kings and pagan worshipers –searching the creation, and finding their Creator!

Eight days later, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple to be circumcised.  Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout.  He was waiting for the consolation of Israel.  It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.  That day, moved by the Spirit he went into the temple courts.  When the parents brought in the child Jesus …Simeon took him and took Him in his arms and praised God saying:  I can now die in peace - “for my eyes have seen your salvation”…

Jesus, the Hope of Glory revealed to a devout man- watching and waiting, believing a promise of God

There was also a prophetess there in the temple, an 84 year old widow named Anna.  She never left the temple, but worshiped day and night, fasting and praying.  At that very moment she gave thanks to God and prophesied that Jesus would bring redemption to all people.  God, revealing Himself with the voice of a prophet once again!

Jesus, The Hope of Glory - revealed once again through a prophetess - an old widow who worshiped day and night – wholeheartedly giving herself to the Lord.

Jesus Christ, the Hope of Glory – God’s fullness and splendor revealed to planet earth!  That first Christmas – Wouldn’t you have loved to be there?  What a beautiful story and a beautiful message to remember each Christmas. 

But where is Jesus, the hope of Glory now?  The Glory of God is still being revealed to us today… Jesus is still revealing Himself to us today.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes on Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.”  It is God’s desire that all would see His glory…His fullness, His splendor…

He still reveals Himself in the places that seem just as impossible as a virgin conceiving a child…

He reveals Himself to the young, the old, the poor, the lowly…

He reveals Himself to the wealthy kings…the pagan worshiper

The devout and righteous

The ones who fast and pray…

 Jesus Christ has come to the world for all.  It doesn’t matter who you are or where you came from, the message that came through Israel, is now offered to all  the world:  whether you are young or old, rich or poor – You could be looking for God in all the wrong places, worshiping the creation and not the creator: 

Yet, He didn’t come to earth just to display His splendor; in fact He humbled himself and laid down His deity… He came to die.   Why? - In our place, so that we wouldn’t have to.  The bible says that all have sinned and fallen short of the GLORY OF GOD. And the wages of our sin is death – In the presence of a perfect holy God, we cannot stand righteous.  Jesus came to earth to give us hope – He was tempted just like we are - yet He was without sin.  Therefore He could become the perfect sacrifice for our sins. 

Do you think reaching God is IMPOSSIBLE?…  What is more impossible than a virgin conceiving a child?

Do you think you are too young or unimportant, lowly or poor?  God first entrusted the message of the good news of Christ’s birth to the young and lowly and poor. 

Have you been worshiping the wrong god?  Looking to the creation and not the Creator.  Maybe He is shining the light of His glory in your heart tonight, the star in the sky – and now He’s brought you understanding, like the Magi.

I can tell you for certain that you are not too wealthy, too important, too devout, or too righteous to be touched by the Hope of Glory – Jesus Christ. 

Do you know that you could have, just like Simeon at the Temple, been “moved by the Holy Spirit of God” read this today – so that you too could behold your salvation?

There is one thing I notice about all the biblical examples I have just given you. They all came from different walks of life, yet none were proud.  All humbled themselves and believed God’s message….

Before Jesus went to the cross, He prayed for all those who would believe: “Father I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world” John 17:24

Christ doesn’t just want to give you a place in Heaven – He wants to show you His glory here on earth.

Have you believed?    Just as Mary had to believe, Joseph had to obey, the shepherds had to seek, and the Magi had to bow down in worship to the True God – so do you.  Has God revealed Christ the Hope of Glory to you just now?   The Bible says “Today is the day of salvation; now is the acceptable time”.  .  It’s simple, just believe and receive.   Just pray a simple prayer: “Lord I humbly come to you.  I believe that you are the Son of God – and I am a sinner in need of a Savior.  Lord Jesus, Come into my life, and I will worship you” …AmenI

If you prayed that prayer a new life will begin for you – you’ll be a new creation – your sins are forgiven, eternity awaits you, a new hope will fill your heart…

                                                   THE HOPE OF GLORY, JESUS CHRIST!


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