By Linda Rex
As Moses and his people Israel stood on the shores of the Jordan River with the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness behind them and the Promised Land before them, Moses put Israel’s story down on paper.
But this wasn’t just Israel’s story. This was God’s story. And it began in Genesis with the creation of all things. Moses made it clear that God made all things out of nothing–a creaturely universe of much different material than the God-nature we know as the Father, Word and Spirit or God the Creator. And after six days of creative work, God rested. It was in this day of rest that God called us as humans into covenant relationship with himself. It was God’s joy to walk and talk with man and woman in the garden in a personal relationship of outgoing concern, love and service that was a reflection of the inner life and love of God.
But we as humans have incessantly refused to believe that God loves us and wants what is best for us. God called his people Israel into relationship with himself to rest in him so that one day all people would rest in him, but too often they turned the 7th-day reminder of that rest, the Sabbath, into a work to earn his love. They did not hear the words of Moses as he spoke of the Coming One who would save his people from their rebellion, sin and self-isolation.
But God continued to love and serve his people and to call them back into the love relationship he created them for in spite of their rejection of him. As all of humanity kept their continuous efforts in the darkness to earn the love they could not earn, the evening of God’s Sabbath rest moved towards morning.
In the midst of that deep starry night came the birth of a child–a birth so tremendous and earth-shaking that the angels lit up the night sky with glorious anthems of praise to God. Through the Holy Spirit, God as the Word entered human flesh–not as some kingly ruler but as a small child of humble means.
The shepherds bore witness to this angelic event and to the birth of the Messiah. Now the Sabbath had truly dawned in the birth of the Messiah! Here in the person of Jesus, all the hopes and dreams of all mankind are found, for God has come to be with us in a real way. God in human flesh–bringing to us a new day–through his life, death and resurrection. Through the Spirit we each participate in Christ in a real personal relationship with God. We can truly rest in him. He has become our Sabbath rest—we can truly have an intimate relationship with God in Christ through the Spirit.
A new day dawned in our Savior when he rose from the grave after his crucifixion. In the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, every human being has entered a new day—the Lord’s Day. In this day, we all are offered the gift of new life in Christ. The old has gone and the new has come. We are included in his life, death and resurrection because he became human like us, bore all our human weaknesses and sins and failures, our self-isolation and rebellion, and purified it with his divine presence, with his life, death and resurrection.
This gift is for every man, woman and child. God is calling each and everyone to rest in Christ. Come, walk in the garden daily with the Lord of your life. Have an eternal relationship of love and grace with the One who knows you intimately and loves you completely. You are forgiven. You are loved. You are his. Receive this Christmas gift with open arms and open hearts. It is yours, forever.
May God pour over you all his blessings in Christ Jesus this Christmas and throughout the New Year!
Dear God, thank you for the great love you showered upon us through the birth, the life, death and resurrection of the Word, Jesus Christ. What a gift you have given! We receive it by your Spirit in deep gratitude, and we praise you for it! Emmanuel—God with us! Thank you so much! Amen.
“She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” Matthew 1:21-23