First of all, if you answered "Yes" to any of those rhetorical questions yesterday ... they were rhetorial and you weren't really supposed to answer them. Ha. But if you did, go here and listen to Revelations from Mount Sinai. That was almost creepy. I wonder if Brian Zahnd knows that the Lord uses him to deliver a message weeks ahead of time so it's posted online right when I need it. Because He does.
Really, what I'm kind of musing over lately is the birth of the Christ. I'm sure this comes as no surprise, given it's December. I've been going through Christmas songs - mostly old hymns, trying to figure out which ones are NOT in 6/8 time so we can rock 'em Friday night - for the youth worship team. Reading through a bunch of these lyrics, I think their authors had a revelation of the birth of Jesus that most Christians do not have. We set up nativities in our front yards and string colored lights around the house, but do we really have an understanding of the miracle that we celebrate?
Check out some of these lyrics. What Child is This? was always one of my favorite Christmas songs, but I like minor keys. Reading through the lyrics you can't help but catch the sense of awe that must have been present, and at the same time the relief that the Promise had come. O Holy Night has a similiar effect.
There were, I believe, 400 years that went by between the Old and New Testaments of your Bible. Four hundred years that are nothing to us today, because we only turn the page, but for 400 years (I hope it's 400 because I've said it three times now.) God's last word to his people was "curse." For 400 years God's people fell short of the requirements of the law and tried to hang on to a promise spoken by prophets long since passed away. I don't know what the life expectancy was 2000 years ago, but I imagine it was shorter than it is today; 400 years could have been six to eight generations. Imagine the despair that begins to settle into the spirit of a people striving to restore a lost relationship with their God, whom even their grandfathers have never seen or heard.
Now imagine you're a Jewish shepherd who has been taught from the Torah all your life. You can probably recite at least the first five books from memory. You know the prophecies, and an angels visits you one night to point out a star ... Or imagine you're a magi from eastern Asia with the dual understanding that the God if Israel is the only true God, and that you are not one of his chosen people. You know the Truth, and that you have no right to access it until you look up one night and see the star you've been waiting decades to see ... Let that really settle in your spirit and you could have written What Child Is This? too.