‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

— Jesus, Matthew 22:37b—40

Friday, December 24, 2010

The King Has Come!

     I love Christmas, and even all the traditional aspects of it. But the older I get, the more I have been drawn to the deeper truth of Christmas. Let me challenge you to take some time this year to think about what really happened on that first Christmas, and what a truly incredible thing it was that the Messiah had finally come. In order to grasp its true nature, consider what was going on in the mind of God, and in the mind of the people who had been waiting thousands of years for the Savior’s birth.

     Ponder this thought, have you ever wondered why the birth of Jesus was announced to shepherds instead of the rulers of Israel? The answer to that question provides a glimpse into God’s character, as well as His plan for salvation. This was the Messiah, the incarnation of God! Why would God have chosen such a “lowly” group of people to announce the greatest miracle of all time … God becoming a Man to redeem sinful mankind to Himself?! See 1 Peter 3:18.

     This was how Luke described that glorious announcement of the Savior’s birth to those shepherds:

     Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, 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!”

Luke 2:8—14 (NKJV).

     I believe that God chose men of such a humble profession rather than the rulers of Israel to announce His arrival because, “God resists the proud, [b]ut gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5b (NKJV) (quoting Proverbs 3:34). The rulers of Israel had become extraordinarily pompous, thinking that they served God, when in reality they only served their wicked hearts. Jesus scolded them precisely on this point saying, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Matthew 23:27, 28 (NKJV).

     The Prophet Zechariah also predicted that the Messiah, the Good Shepherd, would reveal Himself to “the poor of the flock.” Zechariah 11:7b (NKJV). This is exactly what the Lord did, beginning with the announcement of His birth. This is also how the Lord deals with you and me even today, 2,000 years after His first arrival. He resists those of us who think so highly of ourselves and treat Christ as simply an infant figurine in a Nativity set. He is our God! But He will absolutely give His grace to us if we would humble our hearts in repentance, grieving over the ways we have failed Him, and fall to our knees in reverence before the Babe in the manger who came for the sole purpose of dying on the cross for our sins. He gave Himself on that first Christmas to be, “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29b (NKJV).

     The Apostle Peter explained this purpose of Christmas saying, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit.” 1 Peter 3:18 (NKJV) (underlined emphasis added). In the precious words of our Savior concerning His death on the cross, Jesus also said, “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.” John 12:27, 28a (NKJV) (underlined emphasis added). The cross is the purpose of Christmas! And because only the humble in spirit would receive the grace that God affords through the cross, God chose the poor of the flock to reveal His Messiah’s arrival.

     Now that was the mind of God at the first Christmas, but what about the people? This is actually one of the most amazing things to contemplate. Those of us who were raised in a Christian environment know the Christmas story so well that we too often miss the magnitude of what occurred. Christmas was the absolute biggest event in the history of the world, and men had been waiting for it ever since the Fall, thousands of years before Christ’s birth.

     The very first prophecy of Jesus came immediately following Adam and Eve’s rebellion in the Garden of Eden:

And I will put enmity
     Between you and the woman,
     And between your seed and her Seed;
     He shall bruise your head,
     And you shall bruise His heel.
Genesis 3:15 (NKJV).

     Because biologically a woman doesn’t have a seed, but rather a man does, her Seed then spoke of a virgin birth. The Prophet Isaiah picked up that theme when he prophesied, “Hear now, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:13b, 14 (NKJV).

     Now don’t be alarmed that the Messiah’s name was actually Jesus, and not Immanuel. The name Jesus, or Yeshua in the original Hebrew, means the Lord’s salvation. Whereas, Immanuel means God with us, which is what Jesus was, as explained by the Apostle Matthew:

     So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
Matthew 1:22, 23 (NKJV) (quoting Isaiah 7:14).

     So from the dawn of history, mankind had been waiting for the arrival of this Savior who would reconnect us to God and would be marked by a miraculous birth. But as the wait continued, the wickedness of mankind grew, “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:5 (NKJV). For this reason, God decided to demonstrate His wrath that is stored up for our sin, and destroyed the earth as it had existed with a great flood. See Genesis 6, 7.

     The Apostle Paul wrote of this historic event, as well as the final demonstration that will come against the unsaved at the Great White Throne Judgment, when Paul wrote:

     For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them ... because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God.
Romans 1:18, 19, 21a (NKJV); see also Revelation 20:11—15 (describing the Great White Throne Judgment).

     But even though God hated the sin of man so much that He almost completely destroyed us, He also promised a very special blessing on Noah’s son Shem (whom the Semites are named for, which is the people group encompassing the Jews):

And [Noah] said:
     “Blessed be the LORD,
     The God of Shem,
     And may Canaan be his servant.”
Genesis 9:26 (NKJV).

     Nine generations after Shem, came a man named Abram, whose name was later changed by God to Abraham. See Genesis 11:10—27 (outlining the descendency from Shem to Abraham); see also Genesis 17:4, 5 (mentioning the name change from Abram to Abraham). Through Abraham, God further revealed His plan to bring forth the Messiah saying, “And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:3b (NKJV).

     Linking the promise to Shem, God declared to Abraham that he would be the father of the Jewish nation, among whom the Messiah would be born:

And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.
Genesis 17:7, 8 (NKJV).

     God’s promise began taking shape with Abraham’s grandson Jacob, whose name God changed to Israel. See Genesis 25:19—26 (outlining the descendency from Abraham to Jacob); see also Genesis 32:28 (mentioning the name change from Jacob to Israel). Through Jacobs children, God established a people group whom God would send scribes and prophets to record God’s detailed revelation of the coming Messiah and His plan for salvation.

     Jacob had twelve sons, hence the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Through his son Judah, the ancestor of the Man Jesus according to the flesh, God further defined His prophecy of the coming Messiah, referred to here as Shiloh:

Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise;
     Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;
     Your father’s children shall bow down before you.
Judah is a lion’s whelp;
     From the prey, my son, you have gone up.
     He bows down, he lies down as a lion;
     And as a lion, who shall rouse him?
The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
     Nor a lawgiver from between his feet,
     Until Shiloh comes;
     And to Him shall be the obedience of the people.
Genesis 49:8—10 (NKJV). This of course is why Jesus is called “the Lion of the tribe of Judah.” Revelation 5:5b (NKJV).

     Eventually God sent Israel a man named Moses who would lead them to salvation from captivity in Egypt, and give to them the Law, the Ten Commandments. Through Moses, God declared to the people of Israel one of the greatest blessings in all of Scripture saying, “I will raise up for them a Prophet like [Moses] from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.” Deuteronomy 18:18 (NKJV). Jesus Christ is that Prophet, who is the only One to have fulfilled every aspect of the Law, all the moral absolutes that we could not obey ourselves; and it is therefore only through His atoning sacrificial death that all who would repent from sin and put their faith in Him alone for salvation, would be freed from the captivity of our sin. See Matthew 5:17 (fulfilling the Law); Romans 5 (explaining that salvation is possible only though Christ’s atoning sacrifice); Luke 4:16—23 (quoting Isaiah 61:1, 2a, which states that Jesus would “proclaim liberty to the captives”).

     Approximately 400 years later, God sent Israel a picture of Jesus in King David, a descendant of Judah, whom God called, “a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.” Acts 13:22b (quoting 1 Samuel 13:14). God promised that because David was a man after His own heart, God would send the King of the Universe, the eternal King Jesus Christ, through David’s line of descent, “And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.” 2 Samuel 7:16 (NKJV); see also Luke 3:23—38 (providing the genealogy from David to Jesus biologically on Mary’s side, but still using Joseph’s name to follow legal descent rules); Matthew 1:1—17 (providing the genealogy from David to Jesus legally on Joseph’s side).

     It was through King David’s prophecies scattered throughout the Psalms that we get some of the most magnificent images of the coming King Jesus, whom even David called, “my Lord.” Psalm 110:1b (NKJV); see also Matthew 22:41—46 (explaining in Christ’s own words that David was declaring the Messiah to be the Son of God). David gave possibly the most stunning vision of the coming Messiah as King and as the Son of God, to be a ruler over the entire earth, and who requires repentance from sin and faith in Him alone for salvation from the wrath we rightly deserve:

“Yet I have set My King
     On My holy hill of Zion.”

“I will declare the decree:
     The LORD has said to Me,
     ‘You are My Son,
     Today I have begotten You.
Ask of Me, and I will give You
     The nations for Your inheritance,
     And the ends of the earth for Your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron;
     You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’”

Now therefore, be wise, O kings;
     Be instructed, you judges of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear,
     And rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,
     And you perish in the way,
     When His wrath is kindled but a little.
     Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.
Psalm 2:6—12 (NKJV).

     God swore to David, “I have made a covenant with My chosen, I have sworn to My servant David: ‘Your seed I will establish forever.’” Psalm 89:3, 4a (NKJV). However, because of the repeated sin and rebellion against God, He also temporarily destroyed the autonomy of the Jewish nation, and sent them into captivity with the Gentile nations Assyria, Babylonia, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. Before this happened though, God sent Israel the Prophet Isaiah to warn them of this pending captivity if they failed to repent and turn back to God.

     Despite the judgment that God would send upon Israel, Isaiah also reiterated God’s promises that were made to Shem, Abraham, Jacob, Moses and David, that for the sake of a remnant of true believers, the Messiah would still be born in Israel and would sit upon the throne of David:

     For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
     Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Isaiah 9:6, 7 (NKJV).

     Tradition indicates that the Jewish King Manasseh rejected Isaiahs warnings and had him cut in two with a saw. Either way, the Jewish people did not listen to Isaiah’s warnings to repent from their idolatry, and the Prophet Jeremiah was sent with the same message to repent. Yet Jeremiah also retained the wonderful promise of the Messiah:

     “Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD,

“That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness;
A King shall reign and prosper,
And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.
     In His days Judah will be saved,
And Israel will dwell safely;
Now this is His name by which He will be called:
Jeremiah 23:5, 6 (NKJV).

     Jeremiah was ignored as well, and eventually Israel was completely destroyed by the Babylonians. A remnant, however, was preserved by God, yet brought into captivity and kept in Babylonia and later Persia, before being allowed to return to the land of Israel. Even after they were allowed to return, they were constantly oppressed by their neighbors, who were not pleased with their return to the land.

     During that time, God sent prophets again to the people of Israel, both to warn against the idolatry of their fathers, as well as to give them hope that their Messiah would still one day save them. The greatest of these prophets was Zechariah, whose very name has connotations of bringing a message of comfort. Zechariah indeed comforted the oppressed and struggling Israelites with these words of a glorious future when the Messiah would arrive:

     “Hear, O Joshua, the high priest,
You and your companions who sit before you,
For they are a wondrous sign;
For behold, I am bringing forth My Servant the BRANCH.
     For behold, the stone
That I have laid before Joshua:
Upon the stone are seven eyes.
Behold, I will engrave its inscription,”
Says the LORD of hosts,
“And I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.
     In that day,” says the LORD of hosts,

“Everyone will invite his neighbor
Under his vine and under his fig tree.”
Zechariah 3:8—10 (NKJV).

     The vision was of the thousand year reign of Christ on the earth. A time of incredible prosperity when, “men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’” Zechariah 8:23b (NKJV). This was a hope that filled the hearts of many Jews with great anticipation for the Messiah. Zechariah described it as a day when the Jewish Nation, which was experiencing tremendous oppression during Zechariah’s time, would finally be the most blessed people on earth, because the Lord would reign over the entire earth from Jerusalem:

     The LORD their God will save them in that day,
As the flock of His people.
For they shall be like the jewels of a crown,
Lifted like a banner over His land—
     For how great is its goodness
And how great its beauty!
Zechariah 9:16, 17a (NKJV).

     However, even after Zechariah, Israel continued experiencing difficult times. The final prophet named Malachi, who preached approximately 400 years before Christ’s birth, told of the majesty and power of Israel’s Messiah saying:

“For I am a great King,”
Says the LORD of hosts,
“And My name is to be feared among the nations.”
Malachi 1:14b (NKJV).

     The Jewish People knew that their God was a great King, and that He was powerful enough to save them. However, they were a lot like us. They were too weak to consistently remain faithful to God. Like us, they continued to sin and fall away from God. So the last words Israel heard from their God were, “Return to Me, and I will return to you.” Malachi 3:7b (NKJV).

     Then there was a deafening and heart wrenching 400 hundred years of silence. God had stopped sending them prophets, and I’m sure many of the Jews believed that God had totally abandoned them. During this time, Israel experienced terrible and horrific oppression from the Greeks and Romans. There was even a precursor to the Antichrist named Antiochus Epiphanes, who defiled the temple of God by slaughtering a pig on God’s altar, and forcing pork down the throats of the Jewish priests. See Daniel 11 (prophesying the details of Antiochus Epiphanes’ attempt to slaughter the Jews, but which is also attributed to the Antichrist by Jesus in Matthew 24:15). For those who are unaware, a pig was considered to be a filthy unclean animal under the Mosaic Law. See Leviticus 11:7.

     Even after Israel had fought Antiochus Epiphanes through a revolt led by Judah Maccabee, which is where the celebration of Chanukah comes from, the Romans came along and oppressed the Jews worse than any of the prior nations. In the Prophet Daniel’s visions of the Gentile nations that would dominate the Jewish people, Daniel likened Rome to a ferocious beast describing it as, “dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet.” Daniel 7:7b (NKJV).

     The Romans at the time of Christ did in fact devour the Israelites, draining them of everything they had through massively oppressive taxation to fund the exploits of the Roman Empire, and any resistance from the Jews was utterly smashed by the Roman strength. The Jews were desperately seeking a messiah who would fulfill the prophets and overthrow the Romans, relieving them of their misery and restoring their golden age of King David. However, many did not want a Servant Messiah who came in humility, but rather a King Messiah who came in pure strength, and who would destroy Rome.

     Then, after the longest period of silence Israel had ever experienced without a prophet, and after the longest period of horror and suffering at the hands of other nations, Israel’s King was announced! At the perfect time in history, God reached down into our world and placed a miraculous baby into the womb of a poor, not yet married, virgin from Nazareth. But this was no ordinary baby, He was God Himself! See John 1:1—3. Jesus was the second member of the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

     As you can imagine, such a thing would be very shocking to a young, poor, virgin girl, so God sent her the angel Gabriel to tell her the good news:

Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
Luke 1:30—33 (NKJV).

     This was the greatest news of all time! The consummation of all that the prophets had been promising. I love to envision the time period and all that was going on with the oppression the Jews were experiencing, and imagine that I was watching as Gabriel revealed the good news to Mary, or that I was one of those shepherds who were blessed with the glorious announcement, “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11 (NKJV). What an incredible night that was for them! And for us! For if Christ had never come, we would have no atonement for our sins, and would have to suffer ourselves the punishment God requires for each and every time we have transgressed His Laws. This was the greatest news ever given to our world!

     But sadly, most people would reject this Man Jesus as Messiah, and most people continue to reject Him even today. After all, He was not born into a palace, but a manger, where animals ate from. He was not born to a wealthy queen, but in poverty to a humble girl. He was not raised as a royal prince, but as a simple carpenter.

     What the people could not understand is that Jesus did not come the first time to overthrow human government and set up His own government on earth. He will do that one day. But Christ’s first visitation into our world was for the express purpose of serving as our substitute on the cross, as was said in the Savior’s own words, “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28 (NKJV).

     They rejected the Servant Messiah foretold by the Prophet Isaiah. A Messiah who would not be honored as King, but be “despised and rejected by men,” and who came to be “wounded for our transgressions.” Isaiah 53:3b, 5b (NKJV). When the Israelites had the opportunity to worship Jesus as their God and their King, the overwhelming majority chose instead to yell, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” Luke 23:21b (NKJV). They refused to accept this Man as their Messiah.

     They had no excuse, however, for not recognizing Jesus as Messiah. More than 500 years before Christ’s birth, God sent the Prophet Daniel to them, who gave amazingly accurate prophecies of world history, leading all the way up to the Lord’s second coming, when He sets up His kingdom on earth.

     No one aware of Daniel’s prophecies could claim such an excuse, because Daniel gave them the exact date when Jesus would enter Jerusalem declaring that He was the Messiah. Therefore, they should have expected His birth as that date grew closer. That event occurred on what we call Palm Sunday, when Jesus entered the East Gate of Jerusalem as foretold by Ezekiel, while riding on a donkey as prophesied by Zechariah, while all the people declared Him to be the Messiah shouting:

Hosanna to the Son of David!

     ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!
     Hosanna in the highest!
Matthew 21:9b (NKJV) (quoting Psalm 118:26); see also Daniel 9:24—26; Ezekiel 44:1, 2; Zechariah 9:9, 10.

     It’s easy to miss the fact that Daniel gave the exact date of the Palm Sunday event, but a close look reveals that he did just that. Daniel wrote about a specific period of time that would be carved out of history to deal with Israel and to bring salvation through the Messiah, which Daniel referred to as seventy weeks of years. The seventy weeks requires a commentary all of its own, but that’s for another day. However, it’s important to understand that the seventy weeks translates to 490 years on the Jewish calendar.

     Within that period of 490 years, Daniel said that the Messiah would come and be declared as such seven weeks and sixty-two weeks (which again has a significance that will have to wait for another time), or 483 years on the Jewish calendar, after the command to restore and build Jerusalem:

     Know therefore and understand,
That from the going forth of the command
To restore and build Jerusalem
Until Messiah the Prince,
There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks;
The street shall be built again, and the wall,
Even in troublesome times.
     And after the sixty-two weeks
Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself;
And the people of the prince who is to come
Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.
The end of it shall be with a flood,
And till the end of the war desolations are determined.
Daniel 9:25—26 (NKJV).

     The command to rebuild Jerusalem occurred in the “month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes.” Nehemiah 2:1b (NKJV). Scholars have calculated 483 Jewish calendar years from that time to land precisely at Palm Sunday on the ninth day of Nisan in the year 30 A.D., when Jesus rode into Jerusalem’s East Gate. Then some years after Jesus was cut off for our sake, the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple, which to this day has still not yet been rebuilt.

     Because the rulers of Israel knew these Scriptures, they should have been looking for the Messiah’s miraculous birth foretold about in Genesis and by Isaiah as they approached Daniel’s predicted date. Even Gentile Magi, which some Bible translations describe as “wise men from the East,” knew to be looking for the Messiah. Matthew 2:1b (NKJV). You see, Daniel was in fact a Magi, which were a caste of wise counselors used by the Babylonian and Medo-Persian kings.

     Those Magi who showed up to worship the arrival of King Jesus, knew to expect Him because of Daniel’s prophecies. The Jews, who also had Daniel’s prophecies, should have expected Jesus too. In fact, when the Magi asked King Herod where they could find the newly “born King of the Jews,” the chief priests and scribes answered:

In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:
          “But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
     Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
     For out of you shall come a Ruler
          Who will shepherd My people Israel.”
Matthew 2:2, 5b, 6 (NKJV) (quoting Micah 5:2).

     It just amazes me every time I read the story that those religious leaders failed to read the signs of Christ’s first coming. Because all the evidence was there, I can’t help but believe that they willfully rejected Jesus from the time of His birth. Even Jesus lamented about Israel’s stubbornness and pride saying, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” Matthew 23:37 (NKJV).

     They who rejected Christ when He came will have no excuse for doing so when they stand before God at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Revelation 20:11—15 (describing the Great White Throne Judgment). More importantly, you and I will have no excuse either. In fact, you and I have so much more knowledge of who Christ is, because we have God’s complete revelation in the New Testament. We will be held accountable for the knowledge that God has given us.

     Please don’t be like so many of the people at Christ’s first visitation and reject the most incredible Christmas gift you could ever receive. The Apostle Paul explained God’s gift to us like this:

     For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
Romans 5:6—10 (NKJV).

     However, in order to receive this incredible gift, you need to respond to God’s invitation. You must repent from your rebellious sin, and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as the only hope for your salvation, specifically that His death on the cross was your substitute. Submit to Him as your Lord through repentance and faith, and you will be saved. As Paul also wrote:

if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”
Romans 10:9—11 (NKJV) (quoting Isaiah 28:16).

     Jesus came the first time precisely as it was predicted by the prophets. Both Jesus Himself as well as the prophets all promised that He will come again. Don’t be like the people who failed to read the signs of the times when Christ came as Servant. See Matthew 16:1—4 (explaining the foolishness of the Jewish leaders in their failure to see the signs of who Jesus was).

     The signs that the return of Jesus Christ, this time with power as Messiah the King!, are coming into focus at a rapid pace. I believe with all of my heart that His return is very, very near. Nevertheless, even if I’m wrong, you and I will both stand before Christ and have to face the penalty of our sins. Will your sins be on Christ at the cross, which was the sole purpose of Christmas? Or will you have to bear them yourself throughout all of eternity? Please don’t miss out on the greatest Christmas gift you could ever receive. If you hear His voice, do as Jesus commanded, “Repent, and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:15b (NKJV).