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12 December 2021
Jesus the culmination of a divine plan for the world
Words Kelvin Alley
I spent my early days growing up on a dairy farm. Life was relatively simple. We went without many things, but somehow my parents always ensured that Christmas was a special time.
It wasn’t just because of presents on Christmas Day. It was the lead-up, the preparations, that perhaps I remember more than the day itself.
As farm kids, my dad had entrusted my brother and me with small tomahawks – something I still cherish more than 60 years later. In preparation for Christmas each year, there came a time when my dad would call us boys and say, “It’s time.” We knew what that meant.
We rushed to find our tomahawks and would follow Dad to the river where the pine trees grew wild. We would find the right tree, chop it down, drag it back to the house, and erect it in the corner, held firmly in a bucket of sand. This was the time for Christmas to begin.
Christmas, however, is more than gifts, trees, and decorations. It is more than carols and exchanges of love and goodwill. It is more than family gatherings and end-of-year celebrations in workplaces. It is more than Christmas lunches, pretty bonbons, and backyard cricket.
Christmas is about God at work according to his divine agenda for the world. In the Bible, Paul, one of the leaders of the first generation of Christians, wrote in his letter to the Christians at Galatia a profound statement that mostly goes unnoticed: “But when the fulness of the time had come, God sent forth his Son born of a woman ...” (Galatians chapter 4, verse 4).
If we can look beyond the Christmas trees and the decorations, we get a glimpse of the invisible divine hand at work to bring to fruition the very purpose and plan that God has always had from the beginning of time.
The birth of Jesus Christ was no afterthought of the creator. If we stand far enough back from these immediate events, we get a glimpse of the divine hand at work in history in preparation for the birth of Christ.
For example, during the ‘silent years’ between the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi, and the first book of the New Testament, Matthew, two significant things impacted the world.
Firstly, Alexander the Great conquered the known world at the time, some three centuries before the birth of Jesus. This included the lands of Israel and Judea, where, in centuries yet to come, would see the Christ Child born in Bethlehem. Alexander and his conquering armies brought the Greek language to these lands. This became the common language, the language by which the Good News of Christ and his saving and transforming power would be communicated across the vast expanses influenced by Alexander’s Greek culture.
Secondly, some 60 years before the angels sang of the birth of the Christ Child, the Romans had spread their power, influence, and ingenuity for civil works to the four corners of the known world, including roads that stretched to all corners of the Roman Empire.
It was by these roads that the message of the gospel was carried both near and far, which led to the foundations and growth of the Christian church. Is it possible that these significant events taking centuries to take their shape and making such deep and impacting influence on worlds and cultures were merely like putty in the hands of the Divine Master?
According to Paul, there is no question that the coming forth of Christ, born of woman, was not just at a good time; it was according to the time that God had chosen from at least the beginning of time.
Christmas is good news! It is the strongest of all messages that God is intentionally at work in the world and is in control. It is a time where we can have hope that God is vitally interested in our affairs and is active and intentionally at work in our lives.
Colonel Kelvin Alley is a retired Salvation Army officer in Queensland.