To fully understand the story of Christmas, we have to understand the historical setting depicted in Isaiah 9. It was a time of deep darkness. A time of violence, domination, and oppression; a time referred to as Pax Romana—the peace of Rome which was achieved and enforced through the brutality of a government.
In stark contrast is the joyous birth announcement. This was a foreshadowing of the Christ to come. Through Him, a government of everlasting peace would be established—achieved through the righteousness and justice of God. His birth was our greatest gift. His death, the greatest sacrifice. His promise to return again, our greatest hope.
Today a similar darkness exists. We are burdened by a world of sin and oppressed by a government that is removing God from all decisions and public affairs. Just as the people who walked in darkness saw a great light, the birth of Christ casts a great light for us. God sent His Son as a sacrifice for our sins, so His promise of an eternal kingdom can be ours. This hope brings new purpose into our lives today. We are called to sacrifice earthly pleasures for His righteousness, to stand in the face of evil persecution, and to share the good news and His eternal kingdom with others.
Though the light has come, some will choose to remain in darkness. Our sacrifice is to live our faith for all to see. So we praise Him when we feel down, we give when we only have a widow's mite, and we become salt and light to a world in need.
When Christmas day is past, the joy of the season can remain in our heart. As we reflect on the manger, may we open our eyes and ears to a story not about shepherds or angels, but about sacrifice and hope. God, who loved us so much, sent His only Son as a sacrifice—for us to be with Him eternally.
What will you sacrifice to serve Him in this dark place?
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