We are currently in the month of December 2019, according to the Gregorian calendar. This month includes a day which gives those who are inclined to the option of giving thanks for the fact that approximately 2,000 years ago God came down from Heaven and entered the physical world He had created by being born as Jesus, a Jewish child with a Jewish mother who had never had sexual intercourse, in the city of Bethlehem, fulfilling prophecies spoken several hundred years earlier by the Prophets of Israel.
This season also gives those who are inclined to the opportunity to engage in worthless debates about whether or not this is the right day to celebrate this event etc. I’m not here to start, much less engage, in such arguments. If that’s what you’re interested in then please stop reading now because I don’t want to be responsible for an unnecessary spike in your blood pressure or any other unpleasantness.
Moving on, the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, on whichever day of the week in whichever month it happened, was an event that I personally feel very much inclined to celebrate. In fact, the older I get and the faster the world I live in spirals into an abyss of dysfunction and chaos, the more I think it’s more or less the ONLY thing worth celebrating.
I’m not the only one who feels this way.
After nearly 20 years of living in Israel I can report to you that more and more Israeli Jews have a positive or at least non-hostile attitude towards Jesus of Nazareth and are becoming more and more curious about Him. Copies of the New Testament in Hebrew, Arabic, Russian and every other language people speak and read in this country, which were not so easy to find when I first came here, are becoming a very common sight. I have seen people reading them on the bus, sitting on park benches, waiting in line at the bank and many other places over the years.
This is also something to celebrate, and it’s not hard to understand why it’s happening.
Life for Jews and Israelis has never, historically, been easy and we are currently in a particularly difficult moment where we’ve got two men, Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz, who are vying and manoeuvring to retain and attain, respectively, the role as chief executive (aka “King”) of Israel’s governing apparatus. Although the effect this mess is having on everyday life is negligible for most people, the long-term damage it’s doing to the foundations of Israel’s economy, security and political stability will eventually become quite visible and cause a great many difficulties for every single person who lives here. Most Israelis are at least vaguely aware of that fact and the anxiety this is causing people becomes more visible as time goes on.
It reminds me of a passage repeated several times in the book of Judges “in those days there was no King in Israel and everyone did what was right in their own eyes”.
In other words, there’s no one in charge, and everyone just makes up their own rules and this leads to all kinds of conflicts and chaos which is the opposite of what most people want in their lives. So they’re looking for someone to lead them, and although Jesus has all kinds of competition for the role of “King of the Jews” He is, for the first time in 2,000 years, beginning to be a candidate that can’t be ignored.
Brothers and sisters, that is good news!
That is worth celebrating, in December and every other month of the year!
Of course, the Church of Jesus Christ is also awaiting the return of our King to this Earth to Rule and reign and in this season when it’s traditional to remember His First Advent it’s also a good time to look forward to His Second Advent which we can be sure is imminent. The signs He gave us to look for as the time for His Second Advent approached are literally everywhere to be seen.
So here we are in December of 2019, in a rather unique situation where both Israel and the Church are, at the same time, eagerly (and perhaps somewhat anxiously) awaiting our King. Although it’s never a BAD time to be in prayer, this seems to me to be a particularly good time.
Also, as it’s a season when there’s a tradition of giving gifts, I will take this opportunity to remind my readers that it’s the perfect time to give someone you care about a One Year Bible so that they can begin to read the Book of Books all the way through from beginning to end on the fast-approaching 1st day of January according to the Gregorian Calendar.