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Glory In The Highest Theology Religion Essay


Julia Gillards 50-second message addresses her dear remaining fellow Australians. She steps in ahead of CSIRO scientists to foreshadow the worlds impending doom. Commercial for Triple J breakfast show.

According to the Mayan calendar, the world will meet its fiery end on December 21, 2012. Which means that, according to Doomsdayers, we've got a cool 12 days left to check everything off our bucket lists.

Forget interest rate cut; forget Christmas shopping; forget who's 1 cricket

NASA has even taken the unusual step of publishing a fact sheet called Beyond 2012: Why The World Won't End.

Prime Minister Gillard says she will always fight for us and closes by saying: "good luck to you all".

Well, we need more than a good luck wish from our Prime Minister to be able to cope with the rigors of living in the last days.

But imagine what it was like in the day of Mary and Joseph, Simeon, Zacharias - when God had been silent for 400 years - closing out the Old Testament writings with the ominous words of Malachi - Malachi 4 (ESV) "lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction."

How did they see things unfolding? What were their expectations? [certainly wasn't deliverance via teenage pregnancy] What was it like to be on a hillside at night and have an angelic chorus interrupt another mundane night shift?

Four observations that make this text relevant for Christmas 2012

The Prelude - vv 8-14

PPT Luke 2:8-14 (ESV)

8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger." 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!"

We're familiar with the scene. But just reading this text is like watching the Hobbit without having read the book (or Lord of the Rings) - you miss so much of the detail, the expectations, the nuances, the drama.

Reminds me of when I took Ailish to the ballet - "Sleeping Beauty" …

So to broaden our understanding and appreciation today we are going to consider the prelude - What was leading up to this event?

PPT Firstly, there were the whole Old Testament writings

The Old Testament had promised that a Saviour, the Messiah, would come and deliver His people - this was the expectation of many in Israel.

In Luke chapter 1 Mary the Mother of Jesus in her song called "The Magnificat," - which is made up almost completely of Old Testament suggestions and quotations - links the Saviour to the covenant promises which God confirmed to Israel - she takes us all the way back to the book of Genesis:

PPT Luke 1:54-55 (ESV) 54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55 as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring (seed cf Gen 17:7) forever." (promise repeated to Isaac, Jacob)

PPT Genesis 12:1-3 (ESV) (repeated Gen 13:14-17)

1 Now the Lord said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonours you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."

God had promised that the One who would bless them would come to Israel - and through that One he would bless all the nations of the earth.

This covenant was to be the foundation of Israel's hope: Genesis 17:7 (ESV) 7 And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.

(Dwight Pentecost) It was the basis of Mary's expectation of the coming of a Messiah. Mary reckoned on God's faithfulness to His promise.

She acknowledged that the Son to be born to her would be the One in whom and through whom all the blessings that God promised to Abraham and his descendants would come to that people.

Prior to this in Chapter 1 was the statement the Angel made to Mary that is seeded with Old Testament prophecy re the Messiah.

PPT Luke 1:30-33 (ESV) 30 And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High (septuagint elyon - Mary could not have missed the significance of the term used). And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."

Why say, "and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David"? To Mary the angel was saying that Jesus will be the long-awaited Jewish Messiah, the king of Israel.

This was their expectation - Christmas is a time of expectations: work bonus (maybe - Chase movie); presents - there is an expectation (new tie; angle grinder for wife); socially there are expectations - getting together, even if u don't like each other (waiting to c if unc frank); cooking expectations -

You see this was their expectation, their hope - grounded in truth and the faithfulness of God in the past.

Where do you get that from?

PPT 2 Samuel 7:12-13 (ESV)

12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

The Angel Gabriel is presenting Jesus as the one who will eventually fulfil this prophecy to David. But not just Gabriel - consider Peter in Acts 2:30.

[Matthew 1:1 (ESV) The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.]

PPT Acts 2:30-32 (ESV)

30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him [David] that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.

PPT Psalm 132:11 (ESV) 11 The Lord swore to David a sure oath from which he will not turn back: "One of the sons of your body I will set on your throne.

So, the Old Testament writings set the scene for the coming of the Messiah Jesus; firstly in the covenant promise to Abraham; and secondly in the covenant promise to King David.

PPT the immediate context is loaded with imagery that helps us

Buzz words and catch phrases - "The favoured language tools of the lazy and unimaginative" -

'thinking outside the box' - become the very thing it claims not to be. Thinking outside the box is so in the box.

'global warming' - from politicians to b'fast radio to gardening experts

'fiscal cliff'

PPT Luke 2:25-26 (ESV)

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ.

We don't know his occupation. We don't even know his age. What we do know is his spiritual condition - "he was righteous and devout."

He was a devout believer in God, but more than that - "waiting for the consolation of Israel?" - he lived in the hope that God's promise of a Messiah would come to pass.

vs 38 refers to "the redemption of Israel" [cf Isaiah]

Later, the rabbis would refer to Messiah as Menahem (comforter) because they saw him as the one who would bring this consolation.

PPT Luke 2:36-38 (ESV)

36 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

There was this sense of anticipation. Here was this 84 year old prophet Anna who was a widow and was worshipping and she announced to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Israel that the Messiah had come.

PPT end slide


So, the Old Testament writings set the scene for the coming of the Messiah Jesus; firstly in the covenant promise to Abraham; and secondly in the covenant promise to King David; and related to that the expectation of "the redemption of Jerusalem".

Like today this word about Jesus would have gone out through the city as people believed or disbelieved the word of the old Prophets Simeon and Anna. Genesis through to the Revelation of Jesus Christ - it is about God's story of redemption.

Be awestruck. Be moved from your hardness of heart. Be like the multitude of heavenly hosts praising God and saying, 14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!"

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