In recent weeks I have been blogging about Jonah’s response to God’s decision to forgive the Ninevites. We did a little character study on the nature of God from Jonah’s response, and we saw how God is a gracious God, He is a compassionate God, He is slow to anger, He’s abounding in love, and finally He is a God of construction, rather than destruction. I thought I would like to spend the next couple of blogs looking at the revelation of God’s character that we consider in the Christmas story. When we consider the character and nature of God as revealed in Christmas, we have to begin with the last book of the Old Testament where the great patience of God is a characteristic that closes out the Old Testament. We read in Malachi, “Behold, I will send Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse,” (Mal.4:5,6 NKJV).
The Old Testament closes with the promise that before the day of the Lord (a day of great judgment) God was going to send Elijah to prepare the way for the Messiah. We know from the angel Gabriel’s words to Zachariah in Luke 1 and from Jesus’s words and instruction regarding John the Baptist that John is the fulfillment of this promise. Between the closing of the Old Testament and the opening of the New Testament, there are 400 years of silence. When the angel Gabriel breaks that silence we read these words, in reference to the son who is going to be born to Zachariah and Elizabeth, “He will also go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children’, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord”, (Luke 1:17 NKJV). Here we see God sending the forerunner to the Lord Jesus Christ in the form of John the Baptist. John like Elijah was known for his boldness and uncompromising stand on the word of God. Even in the face of a ruthless monarch, he declared the truth of God which ultimately resulted in his death. But think of the silence of God for 400 years as he worked in world circumstances and world conditions to prepare the way for His Son. All of that is a great demonstration of not only the patience of God but of His profound abounding love.
To think that God closes the Old Testament with the promise that the forerunner to the Lord Jesus Christ was going to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children in the hearts of the children to their fathers. What an amazing promise this is. For some of us who have strained relationships with our children to know that the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is all about healing and recovery of family relationships. The Lord Jesus Christ came out of God’s great love to make us part of God’s family. Wow, to think that each of us who have trusted Christ as our Savior are part of God’s family and He desires that our family members be part of that family as well. Our God’s amazing love is all over the whole Christmas story. I can’t imagine a greater demonstration of God’s love than God taking on humanity upon Himself and coming and being born in the most humble of settings and ultimately living a difficult life and dying a profoundly painful death so that we may be part of God’s family through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Can you think of a greater demonstration of love than what God has done for us in Jesus Christ?
I hope that your heart has been turned to the Lord Jesus Christ, who has come to reveal to us the infinite love of God for each and every one of us. I remember probably on my most active day of service for Jesus Christ in November 2012 on the Indian holiday of Diwali, I spoke at six different village Indian churches. I had all my notes in order but after the second church on her way to the third church God spoke to me and told me, “Just tell them about my love”. And that’s what I did the rest of the day, I declared the great love of God that is seen through the Lord Jesus Christ at the remaining churches that I spoke. I declare to you today that Christmas is the greatest demonstration of God’s love for humanity. Do you have the joy of Jesus in your heart this year?
All for God’s Glory,