This sermon was a sort of challenge suggested by Pastor Jon based on blending the prophecy follow up from Pale Horse Rides and the campmeetings I taught this past summer.
look at prophecy backward
What if there was no Christmas?
I know what you're thinking. That's an absurd question! There has always been Christmas and there will always be Christmas! It's not like the grinch is going to jump out of the cartoon and steal it! You're right, but there is actually something better than Christmas--no evil! If there had been no sin, then there would have been no need for Jesus to be born on earth--no need for Christmas. It was because of our sins, our selfish choices, that Jesus had to be born and live and die on this earth.
What if we as humans had made better choices? What if Adam and Eve had made better decisions? What if Lucifer had made better decisions? What if there was no Christmas? What if everybody had made good choices?
We get so accustomed to hearing the same story over and over again that we naturally assume things had to be that way. We don't consider that there were other possibilities and other choices that could have been made. But let's go back to a few major turning points in history and see what we can learn from those decisions. Then, hopefully, when we are done, we will appreciate Christmas a little more.
Was Lucifer born to be the bad guy?
Lucifer was not destined to sin and neither did he suddenly transform into Satan. The nicest next door neighbor in heaven made lots of little decisions that he easily could have reversed.
"Little by little Lucifer came to indulge the desire for self-exaltation." (PP 35)
"Time and time again during the controversy, Satan was ready to be convinced, ready to admit that he was wrong. But those he had deceived were also ready to accuse him of leaving them. What should he do?--submit to God, or continue in a course of deception? He chose to deny truth, to take refuge in misstatements and fraud." (RH 9/7/1897)
Sometimes we bury ourselves in our own avalanche of lies. Lucifer did the same thing, in spite of the fact that he had the ability to rescue himself, which we don't have. If Lucifer had not sinned, there would be no Christmas.
What if Adam and Eve hesitated?
What if Adam and Eve had told the serpent, Ummm, how about we get back to you after we walk and talk with Jesus this evening? What if they had never sinned? Then there would be no Christmas!
[[bad=made Jesus come down here; good=shows hope; get rid of xmas because so commercial?]]
And some of you think that you would never have been born, but guess what?! Merry Christmas! You would have been born in Eden! God predestined you to be born immortal and experience uninterrupted eternal life ever before sin started.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will." (Ephesians 1:3-6)
We were designed and chosen before the world was made. Even after sin, we were still predestined to be adopted back into God's family.
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. [Also, God makes things work together for good to them that don't love Him. They just don't stick around long enough to open their Christmas gifts.] For whom he did foreknow [100%. Everyone.], he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:28-32)
If we believe that Jesus died for everyone, saint and sinner alike, then we believe that He predestined everyone to eternal life starting from birth. Your life does not depend on some other person's death to make room for you. You are not a second class person, an afterthought, a cheap replacement. If someone had to die so you could be born, then someone had to sin (death only comes through sin), which means God's plan needed sin so you could be born! Evolution needs evil and death to work, but we believe in a Creator who only needs love to do all that He does.
God did not spare His Son. That means He lays His life on the line at every decision point in our lives. If there had been no sin, then we all would have been born in Eden and we would be blissfully unaware of evil, unless a different planet sinned. Now that's a merry Christmas!
What if the pre-flood people had campmeeting at Eden's gates?
But we know that Adam and Eve sinned. We know that the people before the flood were so wicked "that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." (Genesis 6:5) But what if they weren't?
There were only two prophecies given at that time. The first was that the future Seed would bruise the head of the serpent and the serpent would bruise the Seed's heel. (Genesis 3:15) The second was the act itself of sacrificing a lamb. That is all that had to be fulfilled.
That means there did not have to be a manger with wise men from the east. There did not need to be a Roman cross. Prophecies about the Messiah being a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, and David did not yet exist. Instead, things would have been much different.
Of course, the details are speculation but we can try to imagine the Biblical principles applied to real life.
Most of the world would have been camped around the garden of Eden, patiently waiting for the Messiah. Perhaps it still would have been Mary that would be chosen for the virgin birth of Christ. Jesus would have grown up appreciated by the multitudes. For the most part, they would have listened and obeyed. Then it would come time for the sacrifice and probably the oldest, wisest person would kill Jesus on the altar in front of the garden. The resurrection would have happened and would have motivated the people to continue with their lessons and convert the non-believers. After everyone was born and made decisions, then Jesus would return with the righteous dead. Satan and the wicked dead would be judged and executed. The gates of Eden would open, and God would make it the center of an earth made new.
Sadly, we know that nothing even close to this ever happened, but it could have. There would have been Christmas every year in tropical conditions on an earth filled with peace.
Instead, there was a flood, then a tower of Babel, then the calling of Abraham, which led to the nation of Israel.
What if Israel had been faithful?
Prophecies concerning His character would be fulfilled no matter what. Prophecies concerning Israel's character which shaped environment were conditional and revealed over time. It was supposed to be a Hebrew altar not a Roman cross.
Abraham and Isaac
At this point it is crucial to consider the timing and context of each prophecy. For example, in the time of Moses, there were prophecies that Jesus would be from the tribe of Judah. "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be." (Genesis 49:10) However, there were no prophecies that the Messiah would be the root of Jesse or the son of David. There were not supposed to be kings and so David would not have been king.
"The LORD your God will raise up unto you a Prophet from the midst of you of your brethren, like unto me; unto him you shall listen;" (Deuteronomy 18:15)
"Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: you shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:" (Exodus 12:5)
"In one house shall it be eaten; you shall not carry forth anything of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall you break a bone of it." (Exodus 12:46)
"And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived." (Numbers 21:9)
"His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but you shall in any case bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that your land be not defiled, which the LORD your God gives you for an inheritance." (Deuteronomy 21:23)
Would Jesus have been sacrificed then nailed to tree? "For dogs have surrounded me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet." (Psalms 22:16)
Jesus was the first one to say "cross." Even John the Baptist predicted Lamb.
This is what happened and why
"But you Bethlehem Ephratah, though you be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." (Micah 5:2)
"Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them has the light shined." (Isaiah 9:1-2)
"And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:" (Isaiah 11:1)
"Seventy weeks are determined upon your people and upon your holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and sixty and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after sixty and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself." (Daniel 9:24-25)
-30 years back to birth
"From thirty years old and upward even unto fifty years old, every one that came to do the service of the ministry, and the service of the burden in the tabernacle of the congregation." (Numbers 4:47) Melchizedek
"And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn." (Luke 2:7) The leaders and the common people were not looking.
Were there any people looking?
"And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ... And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spoke of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem." (Luke 2:25-38)
Are we among "them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem?"
Are we helpful to the Gentile Magi?
Are we hastening Christ's coming?
"what manner of persons ought you to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hastening unto the coming of the day of God, in which the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?" (2 Peter 3:9-12)
The Jews were to inform the world for the first coming of Christ. We are to inform the world for Christ's second coming. May we each do our jobs so well that we will hear this blessing: "Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter into the joy of your lord." (Matthew 25:23) If you listen carefully, those words rhyme with, Merry Christmas!