Posted on: 2022.12.20
Posted by: Thomas Kilian, Program Manager, and Chaplain
I will lay before you the same fight I find myself hoping we might fight well together.
What this Christmas season promises you are joy and reconciliation, and restoration. We have so bought into and sown into this overly aware hope presented in the Christmas season that an actual type of Christmas sadness befalls many of our population after everything is over.
What I want to offer us is something better, not just for this season alone but for every month of our lives. It is not an over-realized God study on the judgment and final destination of our souls, but instead, it meets us where we are and provides hope for where we are as we earnestly look forward to what is to come. With that said, we will talk together about God as our deliverer. Now, when we say God is our deliverer, we are saying God saves us from danger or destruction. Some same names are that he is a liberator, a protector, a defender, a hero, and a savior. Now to show that God is our deliverer, I want to watch what happens to the people of God in Exodus, and then I want us to go to Matthew, chapter 1, and see the promise that comes as Christ shows up on the scene.
In Exodus, chapter 1, starting in verse 8.
That sentence has been true about the people of God from the beginning to this day. God has always added to the number of His people. That is why the gates of hades will not overcome the Church. Christians are not going to die out!
I often remind Christians that difficulty, hardship, and pain should not surprise us. It is everywhere. In fact, the above text states "hard" and "no pity" twice to get this point across.
We, as Christians, will suffer more than others, given the persecution promised to us by Christ. In Exodus, the people of God are dealt with harshly. We can relate, as there have been multiple times this past year you and I have been dealt with harshly.
The Israelites are afflicted with heavy burdens. Again, that will resonate with some of our hearts today. People of God constantly live under challenging situations, and it feels as though, even to us, they have been abandoned, that God is silent. Yet as the narrative progresses in Exodus, God knows how He remembers to save us.
This is a profound, short text here. Here is what it will lay before all of us. First, God knows. God knew. Regardless of what you are walking in, here is the great news of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the great truth about our God as deliverer: God is not a stranger to where you are. God is not ignorant of what is going on in your heart, in your life, in your mind, and in your relationships. He is not surprised, not shocked, shuddering, or wondering what to do. God knows.
Then in this text, we also see how He hears. In difficult times, we often feel our prayers are going nowhere, we are crying out, and God fails to remember. Yet we see in this text that God knows He that He remembers.
Do not get confused by this idea of God remembering His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It was not that God forgot, and now that people are crying out, He now remembers as if, "Oh, I forgot." That is not what's happening here. This idea of remembering is not that God had forgotten, but rather that now is the time to do what he has prepared to do. It is time to move! This leads me to the third point that not only does God know, not only does God hear, but God intervenes on behalf of those who are His children who are enslaved.
Remember how God intervened and delivered Israel through Moses? God comes to him through a burning bush that is not consumed. There, God says, "I've heard the cries of my people. I'm going to deliver them. You're going for me." Moses says, "I stutter." God says, "I don't." Moses says, "Well, what about this and that about me?" But God intervenes in every one of his excuses and says, "You are weak and frail, I know. I'm not. I'm going with you. Let's go."
Like Israel, Moses knew he was hopeless without the power of God intervening in their weakness.
In a sign of what Christ would later do, Moses led the people of Israel out of slavery right up to the Red Sea. Read Exodus 14, starting in verse 29:
Here is something to note. This passage will take us into what the great exodus has to do with Christmas. Not every Christmas season do we start with, "And all the firstborn sons of Egypt were killed, and then the army was drowned in the Red Sea. Merry Christmas!"
What does this story of God delivering His people out of slavery connect with Christmas?
First, let us be honest about what is actually happening here in the passage. We see Israel fears the Lord as they stand on the shore of deliverance. They began to remember the Lord.
I can be straightforward and say the Israelites only remember the Lord because the Lord first remembered them.
They are now led out of slavery and into the land promised to them, a land flowing with milk and honey. Moses aided an external deliverance of human beings out of physical slavery and into a good land, but what we will read about in Matthew 1:21 is much bigger than that.
In Matthew 1:21, Joseph is visited by an angel, and the angel says of his betrothed Mary:
Moses saved and delivered the people of God from physical slavery. In contrast, the arrival of Jesus Christ does not concern the deliverance of your physical life that has difficulties in the here and now. Christ's coming was for the salvation of our souls from the root issue that causes the devastation that plagues our lives, namely the plague of sin and death.
Jesus served death a notice; death was killed within our own lives, and now we are free from sin's mastery. Christ shows up and invades the real root issues of the heart that lead to all of these other broken spaces in our lives and delivers us from them.
What we are doing at Christmas is looking behind at the implications that Christ showed up, that Christ arrived, that He didn't send Moses this time, but God in the flesh came, Jesus the Christ, the Son of God.
Christ comes and shows up, and this time He is not delivering us from symptomatic enslavement but is freeing our souls forever.
At that moment called Christmas, we all are hungry for the Second Coming of our Deliverer. At that moment and the others in which we thirst, I believe we are closer to Christ, our hope.
Christ's second and last Arrival will invade the darkness of this world for the final time and, this time, make all things new. On that Day, the glad restoration will make ALL OUR LIFE’S DARKNESS LOOK LIKE A SINGLE NIGHTMARE. On that day, there will be no more tears, no more hunger, and no more loss.
We are a day closer to this reality. May this be of encouragement.
A CHRISTMAS PRAYER:
"Heavenly Father, we ask for your help, knowing that as soon as we leave this online devotion, we will be bombarded with life's business and needs. We will be pulled and pushed, and the world will make promises of hope that cannot be kept outside your grace and return.
We thank you for how you work in the mess of life. We thank you for your presence. We thank you that for some of us, we will have relational reconciliation on this side of your return, that for many of us, owning and absorbing and seeking forgiveness will occur, and you will be good and gracious in that.
For that, we thank you and praise you. But ultimate reconciliation, ultimate making right of all things, is found only upon your return. Let us look earnestly to that, Father. In homes, apartments, and shelters across this place, might we turn our eyes and hearts toward you this Christmas season. Might we marvel at and think upon and discuss at meals and meetings the coming of your Son, the power of your Son, and the return of your Son.
Let us celebrate and be glad.
For those of us entering this season for the first time with great difficulty without a loved one, without a good friend, and for the first time left to ourselves, we pray you would meet us in those places in a really special way. May the Body be the Body this season as we open our homes and show hospitality and welcome in the stranger.
Be mighty among us, Father. It is for Your beautiful name, we do pray, Amen."