O Holy Night! Why do we Celebrate the Birth of Christ?
© 2023 C. O, Bishop
O holy night, the stars are brightly shining, It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth;
Long lay the world in sin and error pining, ‘Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope! The weary world rejoices, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn;Fall on your knees, Oh hear the angel voices!
O night divine! O night when Christ was born.
Many people ask, “Why do we celebrate the Birth of the Messiah, when His death and resurrection are what are important?”
That is a reasonable question. Unfortunately, others question the truth of (or the relevance of) the Virgin Birth, saying “It really doesn’t matter whether that is true or not!”
Sadly, many of those people claim that all the “supernatural” occurrences in the Bible are mythological at best, and fraudulent at worst. Even worse, they usually deny the existence of true Prophecy, saying, “Daniel could not have known about these things so, obviously, the book is a much later forgery, falsely claiming Daniel as the author.”
Of course, the problem with all of these ideas is, they start with the assumption that the Bible is not the literal Word of God…and that there is no such thing as true prophecy, because “You can’t know things that have not yet happened!”
But, What Does God Say About Prophecy?
God says, in Isaiah 46:9, 10,“Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:”
God demonstrates repeatedly His ability to foretell the future (with 100% accuracy.) He predicted events occurring anywhere between “the next few minutes” to thousands of years future. And, that unique ability is part of the “Credentials of the Creator.” God does not waste time convincing the Human race that He exists. But God does take the trouble to demonstrate Who He is, and What He is like. He wants us to know Him, but on His terms.
The Earliest Promise of a Savior
God made the first promise of a Savior in Genesis 3:15, immediately after the human race fell into sin. We were spiritually separated from God, and we were dead in sin. But He promised us the Coming Redeemer. We sing a Christmas hymn, “O Holy Night.” Placide Cappeau wrote the original French words in 1843. He eventually entitled it, “Cantique de Noël.”
We sing, “O Night divine, O Night when Christ was born!” But, in the original French, it was “Noel! Noel! (He is Born!) Voici le Redempteur!” (There He is! The Redeemer!”)
The English translator chose to “skirt” the issue of our needing a redeemer. (I do not know why.) He addresses only the Holiness of the Messiah, and what effect He would have upon the World. (All of which is Good…but without specifically redeeming sinners, none of that “Good Effect” can happen!) I don’t know why he avoided that point. But, happily, the French author recognized that the Promise of the Ages, the promise of our redemption, was beginning to be fulfilled in that Holy Birth!
God promised the coming Redeemer in Genesis 3:15. But He included the fact that the Redeemer would be “The Seed of the Woman.” No one else in history has literally fulfilled that promise! Therefore, the Virgin Birth was a critical part of the fulfillment! Isaiah 7:14 confirms it, saying “The Virgin shall be with Child and shall bear a Son, and shall call His Name Emmanuel.” (“God with us!”)
Worshipping the Son of God
Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming; With glowing hearts by his cradle we stand:
So, led by light of a star sweetly gleaming, Here come the wise men from Orient land,
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger, In all our trials born to be our friend;
He knows our need, To our weakness no stranger! Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend! Behold your King! your King! before him bend!
Both authors encourage us to hear the worship of the angels, and to join them in worshipping the infant Savior. Several Christian leaders have told me that “We aren’t supposed to worship Jesus.” That is very odd, because in Hebrews 1:6 it says, “…and, again, when He bringeth in the First-begotten into the World, He saith, and let all the angels of God worship Him!”
So… they are evidently saying, “All the Angels of God are commanded to worship Jesus—God the Son—but we are not supposed to do so!” (How strange!) Jesus did receive worship from humans on several occasions during His earthly ministry… and He did not turn them away! When someone tells me to not worship Jesus, I have to wonder about their motive!
These lyrics correctly tell us to Worship the Redeemer, as did the wise men and the angels!
But, Why is His Birth so Important?
Jesus came to redeem us: to do so, He had to shed His Blood…to lay down His life. He had to fulfill the prophecies of His torture and the shame that was piled on Him: He had to specifically suffer death by crucifixion, as described in the Old Testament (Psalm 22, for example.) But, he couldn’t do it without having a fully human body!
Part of the “Law of the Kinsman Redeemer” was that the Redeemer had to be a near relative (we will be studying this law in the next few weeks in the Wednesday evening Bible Study, in the Book of Ruth.) If Jesus had failed to become Human and live His life out as an ordinary man, he could not be the Redeemer! He would not have been related to us!
How Did Jesus Become our “Near Relative?“
Hebrews 10:5-7 says, “5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: 6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. 7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.
When did He say this? When He came into the World! The Virgin Birth was specifically how God the Father provided a fully Human but undefiled body for Jesus to offer at the Cross!
And He Was Free, Himself!
You see, the second point of the Law of the Kinsman Redeemer was that the Redeemer could not be a slave, himself. Jesus was never a slave to Sin, as all of the rest of us are, by birth! He alone had the Virgin Birth, and was born uncontaminated! (“A Body thou hast prepared for me!)
Thus, He Had the Price of Our Redemption
He chose to become a near relative; He demonstrated that He was not a slave to Sin,, Himself, and He had the price of our redemption! Therefore, when we consider that the Savior’s birth was the beginning of the ultimate fulfillment of ALL the promises regarding the redemption of Lost Sinners, then Yes, the Birth of Christ seems very important!
So, Who Is He Going To Be, As an Adult?
This Child was born in Bethlehem. (By the way, that was also spelled out, 700 years in advance! See Micah 5:2) And, he must be someone really special! But how was he to be “special?” Did He have Super-human capabilities? Or was He visibly something special?
No! Isaiah 53:2 says “…He has no form nor comeliness and when we shall see Him there is no beauty that we should desire Him.”
Those who watched him growing up were unimpressed, except on a few rare occasions when He showed His wisdom (Luke 2:46, 47.) Their conclusion was that He was “Just a man! Just a Carpenter!” (Mark 6:3)
But, What had God predicted about Him?
Isaiah 9:6, 7 says, “6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Breaking down the List:
Notice the things we are told in this passage, about the Child who would be born; the Son, who was promised to be given:
- He is born to us as a Child, and given to us as the Son!
- The Government shall be upon His Shoulder (He will be the ultimate Ruler!)
- His name shall be called:
- Wonderful, Counsellor,
- The Mighty God!
- The Everlasting Father!
- The Prince of Peace!
- There will be NO END of His Rule, nor of His Peace!
- This Child will reestablish the throne of David in Jerusalem, and
- He himself will reign from there!
- He will forever reign with Judgment and Justice
- The Zeal of the LORD of Hosts will perform this!
Who is the LORD of Hosts?
One of the Names that appears in the Old Testament is “The LORD of Hosts” (sometimes translated as “Jehovah Sabaoth,” or “Lord Sabaoth.” As many are aware, the four-consonant “tetragrammaton” in the Old Testament is the personal name of the Creator. And yet, He frequently appeared in Person. When He did so, He was recognized as God in the Flesh.
But, John 1:18 says that “No man hath seen God at any time: the only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.” So, in passages like Genesis 18, who were people talking to? Abraham not only saw the LORD, but talked with Him, fed him lunch, and argued with Him face-to-face. So, who was he talking to?
By the given facts, we have to confess that the Person with whom Abraham (and others) spoke was God the Son…the only member of the Godhead who ever shows up visibly, and in Human form.
When the Lord of Hosts showed up in the Old Testament, it was Jesus! And, it says that His Zeal would be what would perform all that is in Isaiah 9:7. To me, that is Mind-boggling!
What Effect will He have on His People?
So, we move on to see what effect He has on those who place their trust in Him:
Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is Love and His gospel is Peace;
Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother, And in his name all oppression shall cease,
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful Chorus raise we; Let all within us praise his Holy name!
Christ is the Lord, O praise His Name Forever! His pow’r and glory, evermore proclaim!
His pow’r and glory, evermore proclaim!
Don’t Circumvent the Cross!
In the English lyrics the fact of the Redemption is passed over and the effect is stressed. Many world religions seek the effect of thepresence of God, without coming to Him on His terms. Cain wanted to bring a worship offering, in Genesis 4, without bringing the sin-offering first. He saw no need for the Blood! He was circumventing the Cross, as so many religions do today.
Jesus became our Redeemer by willingly bringing the required Price of our redemption. The Kinsman Redeemer had to have the “price of redemption (in our case, it was Jesus’s sinless life, laid down for our redemption.) And he had to be willing to pay that price. In the Book of Ruth, we saw that the nearest relative (who was unnamed) had the first three requirements:
- Whoever he was, he was a near relative,
- He was free, himself,
- He had the price of redemption (money, in that example,)
But he was not willing! Boaz had all three of the first requirements, and he also had the fourth: He was willing! So, Boaz stands as an Old Testament figure of the Messiah…our Redeemer!
Jesus came to die! He willingly laid down His life for our redemption! In John 10:17, 18, He says, “No man takes my life from me: I lay it down of my own will, and I will take it up again!”
The Effects are still valid!
- He taught us to Love One another!
- His Law is Love.
- His Gospel is Peace
- He sets the Prisoners free…we are no longer slaves to Sin.
- He frees us from the tyranny and oppression of satanic attack in our lives as believers.
- And, yes, we sing songs of grateful praise!
Fortunately, despite the lack of the doctrine of Redemption in the English lyrics, this hymn still is teaching good doctrine, and it thrills our hearts to sing it. But it is especially good to know that the original French writer understood the core issue: This Child is the Redeemer!
Lord Jesus, awaken in us the Spirit of Worship and Praise. Raise us up as Your servants, and let us Praise Your Name, as the song says! Make us fearless witnesses for your Glory, to proclaim your salvation and redemption to those You came to save.