In The Beginning (of Christmas)
Study Guide, December 3, 2017
Pastor Clay Olsen
In a little while we’re going to sing a great Christmas carol written by Emily Elliot. She came by her musical gifts through her musical family, as her Uncle is the author of that great hymn “Just As I Am”. This gifted woman published 48 hymns that were greatly used as outreach helps to the needy and those in many hospitals of 19th century England. But Miss Elliot wrote this special song for a church where her father was a Pastor in order to help the children better understand the meaning of Advent and the Nativity. But after reading through it I think it actually helps us ‘children of all ages’ to better understand the absolute wonder of what the Creator of the Universe did for those whom He created.
But what is particularly special about this hymn, or Christmas carol, is that it starts at the real beginning. And no, not at a manger, but at the very throne of God. For that’s where ‘Christmas’ really began, at the throne of God, at least the vision and the plan for it all. So let’s explore:
“Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown when Thou camest to earth for me; but in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room for Thy holy nativity. O come to my heart, Lord Jesus – There is room in my heart for Thee.”
When people all around our country look at, think about, or hear references to Jesus’ manger how many of them do you think also think about Jesus’ throne in Heaven? How many ever picture the Babe in the manger as first being the Creator on His throne? Or, how many people understand that you cannot really understand Jesus coming to a manger in Bethlehem without understanding that He first had to leave His throne in Heaven.
References to the ‘throne’ of God are found throughout the Bible, from the Pentateuch to the book of Revelation. But it’s the Psalmist, who was born in Bethlehem, that seemed to marvel most over the fact that this Messiah, who was going to be born in the same town as David, was also the One who ruled the Universe from His throne in Heaven.
Look at this: Ps 103:19-22- “The Lord has made the heavens His throne; from there He rules over everything. Praise the Lord, you angels, you mighty ones who carry out His plans, listening for each of His commands. Yes, praise the Lord, you armies of angels who serve Him and do His will! Praise the Lord, everything He has created, everything in all His kingdom. Let all that I am praise the Lord.” NLT That’s quite a call to praise. But Angels already know all about Christ’s throne! What they no doubt marvel over is that He would leave His throne and His kingly crown and come to Earth for us!
David knew that the coming Messiah was going to have to come from His throne in Heaven. He knew that the Messiah was also the sovereign Lord of all. By the way, it was David’s clear understanding of the deity of the Messiah that Jesus later used when He was challenging the Pharisees. Remember, they proudly thought of themselves as King David’s offspring. But here is the strange thing: They stubbornly rejected any notion from David’s clear revelation that the Messiah would also be God. They had so distorted the Scriptures and the person of the Messiah that they had come to believe that the Messiah would be just a man…a man with the powers of God, like Elijah, but still, just a man. And, sadly enough, that is exactly what the unconverted Jewish leaders are still teaching the people of Israel, both in the country of Israel and to the Jewish population around the world, that the Messiah they are still looking for will not be God, but just a man with the powers of God. That’s the reason that Jewish people think that Christians are idolaters, polytheists…believing in many gods. That’s the central reason that the Pharisees were determined to kill Jesus. Note what the Apostle John recorded about that: John 5:18- “For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.” NASU
Again, they completely distorted the reality that the Messiah was also their Creator and Lord. So Jesus totally challenges their false teachings with one of the most profound questions ever asked: Matt 22:41-46- “While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?” They said to Him, “The Son of David.” He said to them, “How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool”‘? If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?”And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore.” NKJV
Jesus also revealed the fact that God is to be understood as the ‘Godhead’, consisting of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. For David was under the direction of God the Holy Spirit when he said, “…the Lord (the Father) said to my Lord (the Son), Sit at My right hand, till I make your enemies Your footstool.” This also set the Pharisee’s teeth on edge, since they had also fully rejected the Trinity of the Godhead. And so they also fully rejected the ‘Incarnation of God’; that God would become both fully God and fully Human in the Person of Jesus Christ.
Isn’t it strange how religious people, even religious leaders, can have the very Scriptures of God and yet distort it’s revelation and reject what it actually says, and instead they believe what they want it to say and to mean? Mark it down: The Pharisee’s are still alive and well all over planet earth. But that doesn’t change these Holy Spirit inspired facts that King David was trying to point out; that the Messiah was equally divine with the Father and the Spirit, even from eternity past. Like he said in
Ps 93:2- “Your throne, O Lord, has stood from time immemorial. You Yourself are from the everlasting past.” NLT The Messiah didn’t have His beginning in the city of David…in a manger in Bethlehem, for He was from time immemorial, along with His throne.
But even when He came, He should have been worshiped like King David worshiped Him and said: “The Lord is king! Let the nations tremble! He sits on His throne between the cherubim. Let the whole earth quake! The Lord sits in majesty in Jerusalem, exalted above all the nations. Let them praise your great and awesome Name. Your Name is holy! Mighty King, lover of justice, You have established fairness. You have acted with justice and righteousness throughout Israel. Exalt the Lord our God. Bow low before his feet, for He is holy! Ps 99:1-5 NLT Can you imagine if King David would have appeared at the time of Jesus’ birth and started saying these kind of things to the political and religious rulers of that day? Would they have done what King David was telling them to do; to worship the Messiah? No, They would have put even King David to death, just like they did John the Baptist, and later, Jesus Himself.
Something we should clearly know about people from history and even into our own day is this: Repentant faith in the sovereign Lord and Messiah is not an intellectual problem, it’s a volitional problem. It’s not a head thing, it’s a heart thing. Certainly, solid facts will help a seeker find the Savior. And that’s why we are to keep sharing solid truths and facts about our God and His world. But a scoffer will reject even the facts. The reason they wouldn’t listen to King David or to the Prophet Isaiah or to John the Baptist was not because the revelation was not as clear as glass – no, it was because their hearts were as hard as stone. The same is true of so many people today. They will sing the songs, they will exchange the gifts, they will put up their Christmas trees, and maybe even talk about the manger. But they won’t connect it all with the throne of the Messiah…or connect it with the Cross of Christ and their need to to repent and receive Christ.
And if they don’t connect Christmas with the Cross, nor bow in repentance and faith to the One ‘who camest to earth’ for them, nor made room in their heart for Him, then they will one day stand before that great throne that Jesus left, but now sits upon. The Apostle John put it like this: Rev 20:11-15- “And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from His presence, but they found no place to hide. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds. Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.” NLT
It begins at the throne and it ends at the throne. How odd that most people go throughout life ignoring both. It’s not like the world hasn’t been warned. The prophet Micah also declared: “Look! The Lord is coming! He leaves His throne in heaven and tramples the heights of the earth.”
Mic 1:3 NLT
So remember, Christ’s throne speaks of His authority and His power. It also refers to His majesty and holiness. Do you remember what Isaiah wrote, who also foretold of Jesus’ coming in Isaiah chapters 7 and 9? How fascinating that before Isaiah prophesied about the King coming to earth as our Messiah, he first tells us about the King’s throne. Isa 6:1-4- “In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said,“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts,The whole earth is full of His glory.” And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. Then I said,“Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” NASU
This is what Jesus looked like before His incarnation; before his lowly birth in a manger. This is the scene that Jesus left: one where Seraphim Angels worshiped around His throne, a throne that exuded glory and honor and power. It’s pretty clear that Isaiah, as well as King David, wanted us to clearly see this scene of Who it was that ‘camest to earth for you and me’ before we looked at that scene of the manger in Bethlehem. That’s why the Wise Men gave Jesus the gifts fitting of a King…because they were looking at One; looking at the King of kings and the Lord of lords! They knew that this Babe in the manger had just left a throne in Heaven. That’s why they bowed before a Babe, because this Babe was their King!
And catch this: Not only did Jesus leave His throne of honor, but He also humbled Himself in order to accomplish the purpose for His coming. Phil 2:5-8- “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” NASU
This is the great ‘Kenosis’ passage of the Bible, from the Greek word ‘keno-o’. Jesus emptied Himself of the independent use of His sovereign powers and authority over all creation. Remember, at any time, Jesus could have crushed any opposition to Him from anyone. As the political and religious leaders railed at him, He could have just taken their very breath right out of them and snuffed out their lives right in front of Him. Probably not the part of the rest of the story you would want to include in telling your young children and grand-children on Christmas Eve, but…at some point they need to know who were dealing with here.
But back to the point: From the throne of glory Jesus came and humbled Himself even to the point of dying on a cross. Why? Because He left the throne with a gift. The King left the throne with a gift to give to each person on His created planet of Earth. The gift was His eternal life. But the gift came wrapped in a sacrificial body – the body of Jesus, who as the Lamb of God would be sacrificed in death for our sins so that we could have new life in Him.
Interesting how the traditional Christmas story of St. Nick has him leaving his home at the North Pole with a bag filled with gifts for the children of the world. In one instance in Isaiah it speaks of the throne of God as being on ‘the mount of the assembly in the recesses of the north’. So Jesus Christ left His throne in the north with a gift to give to each of the children of the world; a gift of His own eternal life wrapped in His sacrificial death. But like with any gift; you have to accept it to make it your own. The gift that Christ gives requires that a person accepts Jesus own life into his or her life and also trusts in the sacrificial death of Jesus to forgive them of the debt of their sins against their Holy God who left His throne of Heaven to come to Earth to be their Savior and Lord. You have to make room in your heart for Jesus.
We trust that you have made room in your heart for your Savior. If you’re not sure about this, then this is an ideal time to make sure. Just think: Christ came all the way from His throne in Heaven to give you the gift of His own eternal life. Accept His gift and you life forever with Him. No wonder Paul called it ‘the indescribable gift’!