Christmas Eve fast approaches! I love the imagery of the Advent season. Many churches use the Latin phrase, Post Tenebrae Lux, to describe this season. After darkness, light! What does that mean?
Right now we remember the darkness before Christ’s coming, leaning into all the jaw-dropping, heart-melting, hope-inducing promises of the Old Testament! Here are two:
Isaiah 9 - There will be no gloom for those who were in anguish…the people who have walked in darkness have seen a great light…for to us a child is born, to us a son is given.
Micah 5 - From you, Bethlehem, will come a ruler from of old, from ancient of days. And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. And he shall be their peace.
So as we keep hearing of a coming dark winter, we will gather on Christmas eve to the bright shining glory and comfort Jesus’ shines in the darkness. Just as John told us in his Gospel: All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. After darkness, light!
Even after the darkness of Christ’s crucifixion, came the bright light of His resurrection on the third day.
As mentioned in our service, every Christmas Eve, Hope Church takes up an offering for the PCA’s Ministerial Relief Fund. The money given goes to support pastors and their wives who’ve gone through a season of darkness. It could be a tragic injury. It could be a pastor’s wife who is now a widow, after pouring out their lives in service of the church. Here are two links to see and read of how our denomination provides and cares:
You can give to this by sending in a check with “PCA ministerial relief fund” in the memo. Thanks!
Office Email – We are currently having some technical difficulties getting out group emails. That is why no Zoom information came through last week. So please be patient as we work on these details.
Sunday – Daniel 7 – It’s an Apocalyptic Christmas!
If you’ve never read Daniel 7, brace yourself to be bombarded by lots of images of beasts coming out of the sea, a heavenly courtroom and a panicked Daniel. I’ve got a few thoughts to help us not get lost in the wild jungles of this passage.
1 – Apocalyptic - Remember the 1999 film, Sixth Sense? 21 year spoiler alert! It is a story about a young boy who claims to see dead people. The film follows the many conversations between an award winning psychologist, played by Bruce Willis, and this disturbed 9 year old. It’s a mystery as to whether the boy is delusional or beyond help as he gets more frantic. The mystery is not revealed until the end. That’s when we discover that Bruce Willis’ character has been dead the whole time! Armed with that key, that one piece of knowledge, you see the whole story differently.
That’s what apocalyptic literature in the Bible does for us – we are shown by God what He is up to. That mystery revealed helps us better understand ourselves, our God and what is happening in the world.
In Daniel 7 – God reveals. As Sinclair Ferguson helpfully describes: “Here is a true apocalyptic. Our depravity is unveiled, and the curtain that hides the glory of God is momentarily drawn back. We are given a brief look into the throne room of the universe and the sovereignty of God.” (Sinclair Ferguson)
2 - A Road Map through Daniel 7
Daniel 7 – vs. 1-8 – The beastly nature of humanity. The depths of human selfishness and the heights of human arrogance are revealed.
Vs. 9-14 – The Heavenly Courtroom - God’s justice prevails. Notice the central figure of the Son of Man – a human, coming to sit on the throne and rule over all peoples, nations and languages.
Vs. 15-28 – the interpretation of Daniel’s visions.
Consider that Jesus is described with the phrase ‘son of man’ 81 times in the New Testament. That’s a lot! Behind all the misery, the darkness, the chaos of the world, who does Daniel see? He’s shown a shadowy figure that we now know to be Jesus!
3 – Genesis and Daniel
One more thing that’s hard to include in a sermon and easier to write about. The doctrine of the image of God, from the story of creation, is everywhere in Daniel 1-7. The descriptions of the pagan kings having dominion (Genesis 1:28), ruling over the beasts of the field and the birds of the air, come straight from Genesis 1. And the story of creation and the Fall can be taught like this:
God chose humans to rule over creation (beasts and birds, all of it). But Adam and Eve chose to submit to the word of a beast (the serpent), and now as a result, act like beasts. We live, controlled by our appetites, what we want most. But God. Don’t miss the first gospel promise in Genesis 3:15 -
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
The hope of Genesis 3 is that a son of Adam, a son of man, would be born of a woman, here on earth in order to rule over the beasts. Only this Savior, now has to overcome sin’s beastly nature. And this son of man must be mortally wounded by the serpent (bruise his heel), even as evil is crushed under his feet. (see the cross foreshadowed here?)
Now go back and re-read Daniel 7, armed with the mystery revealed: Jesus is the Son of Man, ruling over the beastly nature, subduing our selfishness.
This mystery revealed gives us much hope when the world goes not well. God’s kingdom is coming. It’s given to all who are God’s saints, who belong to the Son of Man, Jesus Christ.
See you Sunday!