In so many ways, Christmas will be different for many people this year as we are called to stay home and reduce contact with people outside our immediate family. This is Christmas in a time of COVID. On the other hand, the eternal significance of the events we remember at Christmas is still there for us to celebrate.
Sometimes, I like to take a look at the big picture of life. I often see it in terms of the Seven Great Days of History:
- The day the world was created (Creation)
- The day the law was given to Moses (Law)
- The day that Jesus was born (Incarnation)
- The day Christ died (Atonement)
- The day Christ rose from the dead (Resurrection)
- The day the Holy Spirit came (Pentecost)
- The day Christ returns (Second Coming)
Right in the middle of it all are the coming of Jesus and His death on the cross. Right at the end is the second coming of Jesus, and here we are today, standing between those two great events. Let’s look at those two comings but first, let’s look at a story that illustrates the difference between His first and second coming.
JESUS THEN AND FUTURE
Years ago, There was a young man who, like the prodigal son, wasted his life and money on riotous living. One night, intoxicated after a night of drinking, he was trying to drive his horse and carriage home when his horses took fright and bolted. The young man lost hold of the reins and was in danger of a serious accident when a young lawyer rushed out and grabbed the horses saving the day.
Years later, the young man had not changed his ways and, on occasion, would end up in court. One of these times, he realized the judge was the young lawyer who had saved his life when his horses had bolted. He tried to play on the previous meeting, but the judge was not impressed. He simply stated: “That day, I was your savior. This day I am your judge.”
So it is with Jesus. The day He died, He was our Savior. The day He comes again, He will be our judge. The two events are like bookends with our lives in between. So at Christmas, we not only look back to when Jesus came and died, but we also look forward to Jesus coming again. We need to link the two together, for without the second coming, there is no end to the story.
SIGNS OF HIS FIRST COMING
Many signs of Jesus’ first coming were recorded in the words of the scripture, including:
- The location where He was to be born: Bethlehem (Luke 2:4).
- A star in the heavens (Matthew 2:2).
- A birth to a virgin (Matthew 1:21-23).
- And many more…
Sadly, only a few people were aware of what was happening. These included a just devout man name Simeon and a prophetess called Anna. Both of these individuals bore witness to Jesus in the temple.
SIGNS OF HIS SECOND COMING
In a Langstaff Letter, back in the spring of this year, I mentioned three miracles, signs of the times, that indicated to me that Christ would be returning soon.
- The restoration of Israel as a nation on May 14, 1948.
- The Six-Day War in 1967 when Israel recaptured the city of Jerusalem.
- The Jerusalem Declaration, when President Donald Trump moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and recognized Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel. (Something several other presidents had promised to do but never did).
Let me share what could be another sign of the times, of the return of Christ.
THE THIRD TEMPLE
Recently, my wife and I were listening to Jan Markell’s radio program: “Understanding the Times.” Pastor Billy Crone, the senior pastor of Sunrise Bible Church in Las Vegas, Nevada, was her guest on this occasion. According to Pastor Crone, the preparations for the rebuilding of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem are well in hand. The plans have been made to rebuild it on the Temple Mount adjoining the Muslim Dome of the Rock, where there is evidently room for it to be constructed. The furniture for the temple has already been manufactured, and they have the ashes of a red heifer in hand for their sacrifices. According to Crone, the Sanhedrin was reconstituted on Oct 13th, 2014 at Tiberius in Galilee. The site of the last Sanhedrin in 425 A.D. As well as that, Crone spoke of a high priest being appointed, according to the temple institute in Jerusalem. So, plans have already begun to rebuild the temple, and many would see this as preparation for Daniel 9:27 happening (the abomination of desolation).
Now, I am aware there are many different views regarding the events leading up to the second coming of Jesus. I am not projecting a particular point of view here, except to say that this appears to be an interesting signpost that could point to the return of Christ.
ONE LAST CHRISTMAS STORY
I have a friend in Pennsylvania, Phil Roland, who, with his wife Lois, have given their lives to helping needy people in all sorts of ways. He recently recorded a story in one of his Christmas sermons. Here it is. Obviously, this was pre-COVID-19.
“There was a woman who was out Christmas shopping with her two children. After many hours of looking at rows of toys and everything else imaginable, and after hours of hearing both her children asking for everything they saw on those many shelves, she finally made it to the elevator with her 2 kids.
She was feeling what so many of us feel during the holiday season time of the year. Overwhelming pressure to go to every party, every housewarming, taste all the holiday food and treats, getting that perfect gift for every single person on our shopping list, making sure we don’t forget anyone on our card list, and the pressure of making sure we respond to everyone who sent us a card.
Finally, the elevator doors opened, and there was already a crowd in the car. She pushed her way into the car and dragged her 2 kids in with her and all the bags of stuff. When the doors closed, she couldn’t take it anymore and stated, “Whoever started this whole Christmas thing should be found, strung up, and shot.”
From the back of the car, everyone heard a quiet, calm voice respond, “Don’t worry, we already crucified Him.” For the rest of the trip down, it was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop.
Don’t forget this year to keep the One who started this whole Christmas thing in your every thought, deed, purchase, and word. If we all did this, just think of how different this whole world would be.”
Merry Christmas from Alan and Dorothy Langstaff, Joy Plaisted (and family), and the other the Board of Directors of Kairos Ministries – Larry and Wilma Rich, John and Sandy Halvorsen.