This evening, I discovered the relevance of the Bible to American Life. We examined the center of attention at Messiah’s Birth in Bethlehem and how BethlehemInTheBible has relevance to today. (See the passages examined in the link highlighted.)
Roughly 7 years ago, one period of debt relief ago, there were 20 children who were killed in Sandy Hook Elementary School in the Newtown school district of Connecticut. Though so recent, we have forgotten that debt, that transgression, that violation of childhood wonder. Children who would now be high school were killed.
Some would quickly lift a voice for or against gun control. But that is not the point.
Guns are not in control and never have been. Gunmen are not in control, and never have been. Terror will not have the last say! God is in control!!
This was around the time of the Christmas season and Ephiphany and the observation of the memory of the Slaughter of the Innocents in Bethlehem, some 2,000 years ago. The same scene played out again of tyranny let loose seemed to prevail.
But tyranny and terror will not prevail. For God is in control!!
Many Christians will remember the Christmas narrative of what happened in Bethlehem around the change from BC to AD. The following is from the KJV, for copyright reasons.
Matthew 2:1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,
6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.
12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.
14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:
15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.
16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.
17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying,
18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.
This will be familiar to many. Perhaps for you too, this Christmas is met with tears and sorrow and sadness: memories of those loved ones you have lost one way or another. All the festivities and drinks do nothing but bring back bitter memories of those who leave which leaves a tear in your eggnog. So will you linger over this bitterness? Will this bitterness prevail? NO!!
Is it because the loss of loved ones is not sad? No, God knows your sorrow and weeps with you. But sorrow and sadness and sickness will not have the final say. No. The Savior shall return another day and shall have the last say. God’s Word is final, not death nor destruction, not disease nor divorce, not division nor discouragement. Why? For God is in control!
The final verse from that passage quoted in Matthew was from Jeremiah. Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet because he had some sad, very sad, lamentable things to say and lamentable times to observe. But lamentation shall not prevail! For God is in control!!
Let us revisit that passage from the “Old” Covenant: Jeremiah 31:15-17 reads in the NIV
15 This is what the Lord says:
“A voice is heard in Ramah,
mourning and great weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”
16 This is what the Lord says:
“Restrain your voice from weeping
and your eyes from tears,
for your work will be rewarded,”
declares the Lord.
“They will return from the land of the enemy.
17 So there is hope for your descendants,”
declares the Lord.
“Your children will return to their own land.
Jeremiah is also one who prophesied restoration after a time of exile. But he looked beyond these pleasant dreams to a vision of the New Covenant, when mercy would abound and all would be made new. As the ESV has it:
Jeremiah 31:31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
The Lord foretold forgiveness and salvation. And that is exactly why Jesus came: to forgive us, to save us from our sins. God also desires to forgive the American people Just as he forgave the children of Israel through Jesus. Just as Israel is being regathered physically into a new nation and spiritually as more and more Jewish people recognize the Messiahship, the Kingship, the Sonship of Y’shua is being acknowledged by more and more people, Jews and Gentiles, God’s grace and truth is making an impact on the nations as far as the curse is found.
O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by;
Yet in the dark street shineth
The everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.
This village where Rachel was buried, the town where Ruth was found by Boaz, the town where David was raised and near where he shepherded sheep, the well of the city had become the source of water that served as a unique and simple sacrifice of that home-dug water, the same town where Micah prophesied a future ruler and where Babylonians had likely massacred children and where Jesus was born and where Herod slaughtered children. This same village will one day see victory. Why? Because God is in control!!
In the irony of God who gained victory through sending His Son to suffer, joy and sorrow often meet in the same places on this earth.
Today, there are Arab believers in the Jewish Messiah who was born in Bethlehem who are longing to visit Bethlehem, not just to see historic sights, but to see family. Those from the rocks, the seed of Hagar, are longing to be reunited with their loved ones in their home town. But a government would stop them. But will those who have been estranged from their family in Christ be separated forever? No, the gates of hell will not prevail. One day, the Baby born in Bethlehem will lead wise men from all nations into the place of joy. Because we are so clever, because we work so hard or are so tough? No. Because God is in control.
Jesus did not merely die on a cross, he rose from the grave. God is in control.
Bethlehem in the region of Judah means there is a House of Bread in the Land of Praise! God provides for us whenever we praise Him. Because God is in control!!
I have seen God’s mercy myself so many times. I have also seen God’s provision and protection. Because I deserve it? NO!! Because God is in control!
Let us look back to the place we started on the shores of this land, in a New Town, In Newtown, Connecticut.
Now, a 7 short years later, something new has happened.
Seven years was the limit that debt had its reign. In the seventh year, there was to be mercy, forgiveness, and freedom from bondage.
In Newtown Connecticut, guess what, bondage is lifting: there seems to be a year of favor in the city where the Tigers play. This year in the same city which saw its little kids slaughtered is now seeing victory. The Joy of Victory (Joieta) is coming to the same place where defeat once seemed so imminent.
God smiled on the people of New Town and they won their final football game of the season. They won their final game against a high ranking team against a team from Media, Pennsylvania. Newtown is fields the Tigers as their team just as Judah fielded the Lion as their iconic creature, both are felines. Both shall live in peace with grazers on the field when Jesus reigns. Why? Because God is in control.
In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together;
the leopard will lie down with the baby goat.
The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion,
and a little child will lead them all.
7 The cow will graze near the bear.
The cub and the calf will lie down together.
The lion will eat hay like a cow.
8 The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra.
Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm.
9 Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,
for as the waters fill the sea,
so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord.
10 In that day the heir to David’s throne
will be a banner of salvation to all the world.
The nations will rally to him,
and the land where he lives will be a glorious place.
In America, Media is powerful. The media seems to govern America. Media seems to make up the minds of America. But American football declared that a New Town shall defeat the Media!! There is a new city which will win in this land as well as in the land of promise. Because the promise has gone out to the ends of the earth. Is it because America is righteous? Certainly not!! The media has done a fine job recounting all the vices of America and violations in the nation. But a New Covenant shall win in a new town. Why? Because we are good or great or special? No! Because God is in control!!
God is in control and He shall have the final say. He shall speak life, peace, and joy for all time! God is victor in the land!! I write this as Trump was impeached. As the media discusses the meaning of politics in places of power.
But I tell you, a little Child shall lead: Jesus shall reign. We do not put our hope in Trump, Congress, nor the Supreme Court!
For the Lord is our Judge,
The Lord is our Ruler,
The Lord is our King;
He will save us.
Isaiah 33:22 Amplified
If you believe that is true, say Amen!!