One EXTRA-Ordinary Night

Today your Savior was born in the town of David. He is Christ, the Lord. LUKE 2:11

One ordinary night with ordinary sheep and ordinary shepherds. And were it not for a God who loves to hook an “extra” on the front of the ordinary, the night would have gone unnoticed. The sheep would have been forgotten, and the shepherds would have slept the night away.

But God dances amidst the common. And that night he did a waltz. The black sky exploded with brightness. Trees that had been shadows jumped into clarity. Sheep that had been silent became a chorus of curiosity. One minute the shepherd was dead asleep, the next he was rubbing his eyes and staring into the face of an alien.

The night was ordinary no more.

The angel came in the night because that is when lights are best seen and that is when they are most needed. God comes into the common for the same reason. His most powerful tools are the simplest.

The Applause of Heaven

Good News of Great Joy

Micah 5:2

The Hebrew Scriptures—that is, the Old Testament—included many prophecies about the coming Messiah. A few of them probably left Israelite scholars and laymen alike scratching their heads and wondering how one individual could fulfill such lofty promises. The birth of such a person would be “good news of great joy,” just as the angel proclaimed (Luke 2:10). The Messiah would be . . .

• A descendant of Abraham seated on David’s throne. There is a reason that both Matthew and Luke painstakingly trace Jesus’ genealogy (Matt. 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38): the Messiah’s family line mattered. God promised that all nations would be blessed through the house of Abraham (Gen. 22:18), and Isaiah prophesied that Christ would reign forever on David’s throne (Isa. 9:7). The gospel writers showed that Jesus could claim direct lineage from both of these men.

• A man born in Bethlehem who comes out of Egypt.
The Messiah’s place of origin must have caused confusion. Though His predicted birthplace was Bethlehem, He was expected to come out of Egypt (Mic. 5:2; Hos. 11:1). We know that a census brought Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to tiny, insignificant Bethlehem just in time for the Christ child’s arrival. And Matthew’s gospel explains the rest of the mystery: the family fled to Egypt to avoid Herod’s jealous rage (Matt. 2:13).

God was specific in describing the Messiah because He wanted people to recognize the Anointed One and rejoice in His coming. That’s exactly what happened when the King of Kings rode a donkey into Jerusalem (prophecy: Zech. 9:9; completion: John 12:12-15). Jesus is the promised Christ—this truly is great news and reason to rejoice.

Pride Goes Before Destruction

“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)

This is the middle verse of the entire book of Proverbs, and, in view of the obviously structured original verse divisions throughout the book, it may well have been divinely designed as such. In any case, the sin of pride is so deadly, it is appropriate that a solemn warning concerning it should be placed here right at the heart of God’s book of true wisdom.

The sin of pride was the primeval sin of Satan: “Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness” (Ezekiel 28:17). It was the sin by which Satan led Adam and Eve to fall. “Ye shall be as gods” (Genesis 3:5), he had said. It is always the “easily besetting” sin of Christian leaders, especially those who have assumed such leadership prematurely. “Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil” (1 Timothy 3:6). Even Jesus was 30 years old before He began to teach.

Though pride is not named as such in the Ten Commandments, in reality it is implied in the very first one. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). The essence of all false religion is evolutionary humanism—worshipping and serving the creature more than the Creator (Romans 1:25). Pride and unbelief are two sides of the same coin. When men and women refuse the word of their Creator, it is fundamentally because they want to be their own “gods,” as did Adam and Eve. Human pride is the hidden root of humanism, and of evolutionism, and of “every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God” (2 Corinthians 10:5). It is the very essence of the sin nature which we have inherited from our first parents. How carefully we need to guard against this secret sin of pride. If we do not, it will inevitably lead to humiliation and defeat. HMM

To him will I give the land that he hath trodden upon…

“To him will I give the land that he hath trodden upon… because he hath wholly followed the Lord.” (Deut. 1:36.)

EVERY hard duty that lies in your path, that you would rather not do, that it will cost you pain and struggle or sore effort to do, has a blessing in it. Not to do it, at whatever cost, is to miss the blessing.

Every hard piece of road on which you see the Master’s shoe-prints and along which He bids you follow Him, surely leads to blessing, which you cannot get if you cannot go over the steep, thorny path.

Every point of battle to which you come, where you must draw your sword and fight the enemy, has a possible victory which will prove a rich blessing to your life. Every heavy load that you are called to lift hides in itself some strange secret of strength.—J. B. Miller.

“I cannot do it alone;
The waves run fast and high,
And the fogs close all around,
The light goes out in the sky;
But I know that we two
Shall win in the end,
Jesus and I.

“Coward and wayward and weak,
I change with the changing sky;
Today so eager and bright,
Tomorrow too weak to try;
But He never gives in,
So we two shall win,
Jesus and I.

“I could not guide it myself,
My boat on life’s wild sea;
There’s One who sits by my side,
Who pulls and steers with me.
And I know that we two
Shall safe enter port,
Jesus and I.

I clothed thee also with broidered work

“I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers’ skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk.” Ezekiel 16:10

See with what matchless generosity the Lord provides for His people’s apparel. They are so arrayed that the divine skill is seen producing an unrivalled broidered work, in which every attribute takes its part and every divine beauty is revealed. No art like the art displayed in our salvation, no cunning workmanship like that beheld in the righteousness of the saints. Justification has engrossed learned pens in all ages of the church, and will be the theme of admiration in eternity. God has indeed “curiously wrought it.” With all this elaboration there is mingled utility and durability, comparable to our being shod with badgers’ skins.

The animal here meant is unknown, but its skin covered the tabernacle, and formed one of the finest and strongest leathers known. The righteousness which is of God by faith endureth for ever, and he who is shod with this divine preparation will tread the desert safely, and may even set his foot upon the lion and the adder. Purity and dignity of our holy vesture are brought out in the fine linen. When the Lord sanctifies His people, they are clad as priests in pure white; not the snow itself excels them; they are in the eyes of men and angels fair to look upon, and even in the Lord’s eyes they are without spot. Meanwhile the royal apparel is delicate and rich as silk. No expense is spared, no beauty withheld, no daintiness denied.

What, then? Is there no inference from this? Surely there is gratitude to be felt and joy to be expressed. Come, my heart, refuse not thy evening hallelujah! Tune thy pipes! Touch thy chords!

“Strangely, my soul, art thou arrayed
By the Great Sacred Three!
In sweetest harmony of praise
Let all thy powers agree.”

Yet He hath made with me an everlasting covenant

“Yet He hath made with me an everlasting covenant.” 2 Samuel 23:5

This covenant is divine in its origin. “HE hath made with me an everlasting covenant.” Oh that great word HE! Stop, my soul. God, the everlasting Father, has positively made a covenant with thee; yes, that God who spake the world into existence by a word; He, stooping from His majesty, takes hold of thy hand and makes a covenant with thee. Is it not a deed, the stupendous condescension of which might ravish our hearts for ever if we could really understand it? “HE hath made with me a covenant.”

A king has not made a covenant with me—that were somewhat; but the Prince of the kings of the earth, Shaddai, the Lord All-sufficient, the Jehovah of ages, the everlasting Elohim, “He hath made with me an everlasting covenant.” But notice, it is particular in its application. “Yet hath He made with ME an everlasting covenant.” Here lies the sweetness of it to each believer. It is nought for me that He made peace for the world; I want to know whether He made peace for me! It is little that He hath made a covenant, I want to know whether He has made a covenant with me. Blessed is the assurance that He hath made a covenant with me! If God the Holy Ghost gives me assurance of this, then His salvation is mine, His heart is mine, He Himself is mine—He is my God.

This covenant is everlasting in its duration. An everlasting covenant means a covenant which had no beginning, and which shall never, never end. How sweet amidst all the uncertainties of life, to know that “the foundation of the Lord standeth sure,” and to have God’s own promise, “My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.” Like dying David, I will sing of this, even though my house be not so with God as my heart desireth.