"Glory to GOD in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men."
(Luke ii. 14.)
OVER A THOUSAND YEARS had man been vainly struggling and striving when The Deliverer came! How the angels rejoiced as God laid help on One who was mighty-almighty, and with what adoring interest and wonder they stooped down to look into the plan by which God Himself was about to destroy the works of the devil, and to set the lawful captives free!
"God undertook to save-at His own time, in His own way, by Himself alone, and for His own glory."
Satan's mighty power had been but too apparent: for millenniums, he, the strong man, had held his goods in peace. Man, the victim of his own passions, as of Satan's wiles, had found no means of self-extrication; nay, all his ill-devised plans had but riveted his chains. Left without law, the issue had been all but universal destruction-the Deluge. Warned by that judgment, but in vain, pride and rebellion had soon culminated in Babel and the confusion of tongues. The elect family failed-failed in the patriarchs, failed in Egypt, in the wilderness, in the land. Man, however tried, had no power to deliver himself, and even when delivered by God, no steadfastness. The whole world was lying in the wicked one: Satan's triumph seemed almost complete. Then God undertook to save-at His own time, in His own way, by Himself alone, and for His own glory.
"In the quiet hours of the night, without pomp, and without observation, the Lord of glory stole, as it were, unseen into this sin-stricken world."
"God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers 'in' the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us 'in' His Son." Soon the glad tidings are noised abroad-" Unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." "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. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end." Well may we ask when and how did He come, and how did He undertake His mighty and glorious task?
Did He come when earth's brightest sun was shining with all its noontide splendour, and pale its glory by His own superior effulgence, while the awe-struck nobles of this earth vied with each other in welcoming Him with more than royal honours? No! In the quiet hours of the night, without pomp, and without observation, the Lord of glory stole, as it were, unseen into this sin-stricken world.
Where is He, where is He that is born King of the Jews? demand the wise men at Jerusalem. Search the halls of the great, the homes of the wise, the palaces of the noble! But, no; He is not there! Yet, surely, He must be found in the city of the great King! Nay, Jerusalem shelters Him not! Would you find Him? go to Bethlehem-Ephratah, the little one of the thousands of Judah, and even there you will find Him lying in a manger-for there was no room for Him and His parents in the inn.
"The Wisdom of God and the Power of God has undertaken our deliverance, and in order to accomplish it seeks no alliance with the wisdom, the wealth, the nobility of earth, but intelligently takes the lowest place as that best adapted for carrying out His purposes of love and grace."
"Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people, for unto you is born this day a Deliverer, and this shall be a sign unto you. Ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men." Not to King Herod on his throne was the angelic vision vouchsafed; not to the High Priest or to the Sanhedrim was this revelation given, nor even to the seeking Magi; but to humble shepherds, keeping their watch by night. And still there are many revelations for the faithful toiler, that ease and luxury will never know.
These heavenly hosts had sung with wondering gladness when chaos was clothed with beauty; and the work of creation was completed. But now they see with greater wonder the Creator Himself veiled in human form and self-emptied, lying in a manger. They knew the grace of our Lord, as never before, when they saw Him as Jesus Christ, who "though He was rich, yet for our sakes became poor." The Wisdom of God and the Power of God has undertaken our deliverance, and in order to accomplish it seeks no alliance with the wisdom, the wealth, the nobility of earth, but intelligently takes the lowest place as that best adapted for carrying out His purposes of love and grace.
Have we learned this lesson? Are we willing to learn it? “As the Father hath sent Me into the world, even so I send you." Or, are we going to repeat the oftmade experiment-which always has failed and always must fail-of trying to improve upon God's plan? The poverty and weakness of apostolic missions necessitated reliance on God alone, and issued in wondrous success, and in modern missions it will invariably be found that in proportion to the non-reliance on wealth or education or political power, and in proportion to the self-emptying with which they are carried on, the issues are encouraging. The persecutions of Burmah and Madagascar, and the dangers of labour among the cannibals of the South Sea Islands have proved no barriers to success, but have been the very conditions of blessing. Can those who at home or abroad are ambitious for the highest success as fishers of men find a wiser or safer example than that of Him who called His first disciples to leave all and follow Him, and who Himself "though He Was Rich, Yet For Our Sakes Became Poor"?
From China's Millions