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Faith, Perseverance and Courage



 

As we come to the end of 1997, this December newsletter is the 90th issue – eight years of publishing Day Star. As we rush toward another new year, it dawns with many golden opportunities. We are excited as we wait for the commencement of the Great Tribulation to begin any day and our commitment to proclaim the imminent return of Jesus is even stronger. The coming of Jesus is even nearer than when we first believed! (Romans 13:11) Life does not always go as planned for some individuals this can be a bit disappointing. However, when tempted with discouragement, I try to keep things in perspective by contrasting the goal or focus of my life with the present circumstances I find myself facing. For me, this is the key that helps get me through difficult times. If the objective is worth living for, then it is certainly worth fighting for! A good illustration of this principle can be found during a sea battle fought off the coast of Britain in 1779. The battle was between the American John Paul Jones and Captain Pearson of the British navy. This story confirms that courage can make a difference during difficult times. Here are the details written by Benson J. Lossing LL.D., ( Our Country, Volume 4 ).

"At seven o’clock in the evening [September 23, 1779], the [Bon Homme] Richard was within musket shot distance of the [British war ship, the]Serapis when one of the most desperate naval fights ever recorded began. The wind was slack, and while the vessels were struggling for wind advantage, they came in contact. Their spars and rigging became entangled. Jones, at the head of his men, attempted to board the Serapis. But, after a sharp and close contest with pike, pistol and cutlass was repulsed, Captain Pearson of the Serapis, who could not see the ensign of the Richard called out to him in the darkness: Has your flag been struck? Jones shouted back, ‘I have not begun to fight yet.’

Finally, the vessels were separated, and Jones attempted to position his ship behind the hawser of his enemy. He failed, and the wind brought the two ships broadside to broadside, the muzzles of the guns touching each other. Jones instantly lashed the ships together, and in that close embrace they poured their terrible volleys into each other with awful effect. From deck to deck of the entangled vessels the combatants madly rushed, fighting like demons.

Very soon Jones’ ship, the Richard, was pierced between wind and water with several 18-pound balls, and she began to fill. Her ten greater guns were silenced, and only three-pounders kept up the cannonade; but the marines in the round top of the Richard sent deadly volleys of bullets down upon the struggling Englishmen. Ignited combustibles were scattered over the Serapis, and at one time she was on fire in a dozen places. Some cartridges were ignited on her lower deck which blew up the whole of the officers and men that were quartered aft of the main mast. At half-past nine, just as the moon rose in a cloudless sky, Jones’ ship the Richard, was also discovered to be on fire. A scene of appalling grandeur followed. In the midst of smoke and half-smothered flame, and the incessant roar of great guns, men as furious as wounded tigers were seen struggling hand-to-hand for the mastery of the battle. At that moment a cry was raised on the Richard – ‘The ship is sinking!’ A frightened gunner ran aft to pull down the American flag but, he found the halyards cut away. He cried, Quarter, quarter! [Retreat!] until he was silenced by a blow from a discharged pistol which Jones hurled at his head. It fractured his skull, and sent him headlong down the gangway. ‘Did you ask for quarter?’ shouted Pearson. ‘Never,’ replied Jones. ‘Then I’ll give you none,’ answered the enraged Englishman and the desperate fight went on more fiercely than before.

The situation of Jones was becoming, every moment, more critical for his ship could not float much longer. Nothing appeared more hopeless than his prospect for victory. Yet, he won the battle. The flames crept up the rigging of the Serapis, and by their glow and the full light of the moon, Jones saw that his double-headed shot had almost cut Pearson’s main mast in half. He hurled another shot upon it, until the tall mast reeled. Pearson saw his great peril, and upon lowering his flag, he surrendered to his weaker foe. Enveloped in sparks and smoke, Pearson said, in a surly manner as he handed his sabre to Jones, ‘It is painful to deliver up my sword to a man who has fought with a rope around his neck.’ Jones courteously replied, as he returned the weapon, ‘Sir, you have fought like a hero, and I make no doubt your king will reward you in the most ample manner.’ Later, Pearson was knighted and when Jones heard of it, he said, "Well, he deserves it and if I fall in with him again, I’ll make a lord of him."

Did you notice the weight of those five words, "Yet, he won the battle?" Jones was a Scottish man who had come to America as a boy. He joined the tiny American navy and was fighting for freedom from British dominion. Stories of courage bring admiration and revival even though the hero may be less than a good citizen in everyday life. According to British and some American historians, John Paul Jones was a rascal, a pirate and a thug. Even so, Americans say he was a brave man having honorable merits. This bit of irony amuses me: God sometimes uses rascals to accomplish His purposes.

I believe that among our readership, many individuals have a story to tell in which they have faced insurmountable odds. Perhaps God has done something very special for you during a very difficult time in your life. If you have something to share, write it down and send it to me. Occasionally, I would like to share stories of courage, faith and rescue with our readers.

The Challenge has Grown

As I reflect back over 1997 and the past eight years of writing for this monthly Bible study, I am both happy and sad. Do you realize that more than 120,000 households have received a Day Star newsletter during the past eight years? WUAS has distributed more than a million books in 66 countries. Shirley and I have traveled thousands of miles and conducted seminars beyond count. Shelley, Suzy and Beverly have answered more than 500,000 phone calls and Marty not only manages the Lord’s money, but has done a superior job of putting a professional touch on all our publications. Yet, "the fight has just begun." Yes, I am pleased that something has been done to alert people to the imminent return of Jesus, but I would like to see a lot more done! When I consider our efforts from a global perspective, I am overwhelmed! During the past eight years, the population of the world has increased by almost 400 million people! That is about 400 times the number of people we have reached in eight years!

Are we downhearted? Not at all! In fact, we are facing the challenge! Joy comes from knowing that God is in control. This is His work. The Lord owns Wake Up Seminars. We are its trustees. We have a calling higher than any other – like John the Baptist, we have the privilege of heralding the coming kingdom. (Matthew 11:11-15) When Joshua ended his farewell speech to Israel, he closed with words from the Lord saying:"Then you crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho. The citizens of Jericho fought against you, as did also the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites and Jebusites, but I gave them into your hands. I sent the hornet ahead of you, which drove them out before you-also the two Amorite kings. You did not do it with your own sword and bow. So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant." (Joshua 24:11-13)

The point Joshua emphasized is that Israel’s victories were not "with their own sword and bow." Rather, Israel’s victories belonged to the Lord. It was Israel’s opportunity to do the Lord’s bidding, but the victory belonged to Him. He chose them before they even knew Him. I always try to keep this in mind. I know that I cannot convince the world to understand the prophecies as I understand them. God has not called me to manage a big organization with hundreds of employees and an annual budget of millions of dollars. (I am so grateful.) God has not laid a burden on me to focus on the basic doctrines of salvation though I never tire of sharing and hearing the story of God’s amazing grace. (God has thousands of preachers around the world preaching the essential elements of salvation.) If that is the case, then what is the focus of Wake Up America? Like Paul, our purpose is to go beyond the wonderful, but elementary teachings of Christ. Ours is the joy of presenting the riches of God’s love and salvation. (See Hebrews 6 and 1 Corinthians 1:17.) People who study the prophecies study the deeper things of God. We have the honor of heralding the coming King! We have information to show from God’s Word that the kingdom of God is at hand! WUAS accomplishes this by conducting seminars, distributing books, video and audio tapes and topical publications. We are sowing as much seed as we can, as fast as possible! In the near future, the Lord of the Harvest will send forth reapers and there will be a numberless multitude of souls gathered in from the harvest! (See Revelation 7:9-14.)

We are in this Together

Obviously, our endeavors are your endeavors. Those who support Wake Up America share in our joys and happiness because you have generously given time and money for this unique ministry. I thank the Lord daily for His blessings to us and ask Him to bless and prosper those who cheerfully share our burden. For those readers who have recently joined our family of subscribers, I would like to explain how Wake Up America Seminars came to be.

In 1986, I was working for a hospital in Dayton, Ohio. I distinctly remember that year for several reasons. First, after years of personal research in Bible prophecy, certain elements were beginning to come together and make sense. I began to share my discoveries with people at work. Some seemed interested; others repulsed. In October 1986, I conducted my first seminar – a six-part seminar. I personally invited 50 fellow employees from the hospital to come and consider what the Bible might say about end-time events. To my surprise, almost 50 people came! However, one guy showed up that did not have an invitation – more about him in a moment.

During 1987, I wrote the first edition of Warning, Revelation is about to be fulfilled even though my responsibilities at the hospital were becoming larger and larger. I worked all day at the hospital and wrote till my eyes fell shut late at night. I sensed the Lord was calling me to share what I had discovered in the prophecies. One day, in late 1988, I felt a strong calling to dedicate myself to sharing the "imminent fulfillment of Revelation" and I made a covenant with the Lord. I agreed to leave my employment at the hospital and dedicate myself to sharing the unique understanding of prophecy that I had come to comprehend based on one condition: I would not ask for money. I reasoned that if the Lord was not calling me, the lack of financial support would soon force closure on my endeavors, compelling me to look for another job. When I tendered my resignation, the CEO of the hospital was very kind – although he could not understand what was going on in my head. He graciously offered a leave of absence if I would agree to come back in a few months. I thanked him for his kindness, but I knew there would be no return. However, we did agree that I would work part-time for a few months to insure a smooth transition in my department.

My dear wife of 27 years, Shirley, has always been supportive – even to her own detriment sometimes. Such is her love and loyalty. Although I knew Shirley would not be overjoyed with the whole idea, I also knew she is a person of great faith. So, we agreed to give this venture everything we had for three years and then reevaluate the situation at that time. If anyone deserves accolades for patience and long-suffering, it is Shirley Her whole life routine was turned upside down. Shirley had been working part-time, but she agreed to work full-time so we could continue to meet our financial obligations. During 1989, I wrote, "The Revelation of Jesus" and naturally, I dedicated it to her – I gave her the first copy I received from the printer.

Before leaving the employment of the hospital, I began to impose my prophetic views upon my immediate boss, Marty Purvis. I say "impose" because Marty was kind and patient. One day, after he had listened to me ramble on about the end of the world I will never forget him responding, "You are talking about arranging chairs on the Titanic." By this Marty meant that he did not see why it mattered how the end comes. However, after awhile, he became interested – very interested.

I asked Marty to help me set up a nonprofit organization since he is a CPA. He helped immensely and as Secretary-Treasurer of Wake Up America, he has maintained our accounts ever since. Many dedicated people also helped (and continue to help) in valuable ways. They do many things I cannot do. In time, things changed at the hospital and Marty also left his employment there. A year later, he joined me full-time at Wake Up America. He has been a true and trustworthy friend for many years.

I mentioned a guy who attended my first seminar without having an invitation. His name is Jan Betts. He worked at the hospital and heard through the "grapevine" that I was conducting a seminar on end-time events. We had never met (at that time, the hospital had about 3,000 employees). He attended and we eventually became very close friends. Jan has probably attended more seminars than anyone else – so you know he must be a true friend. A few weeks after getting to know Jan, I met his wife, Shelley. She worked at another hospital in the Dayton area and eventually, she also became interested in the prophetic story. Concerns for their daughter’s educational needs caused Shelley to temporarily leave her hospital's employment. So, one day in July 1990, I asked Shelley if she would be interested in working part-time at WUAS. I needed someone to "manage the phone," process orders and answer 10,000 questions. To my surprise, she agreed. I say surprise, because the next day the hospital called her with an unbelievable offer if she would return! (Over the years, they have tried several times to lure her back.)

Obtaining office space in Bellbrook was also a miracle. I had only enough money to rent an office for three months. When I told my prospective landlord about my finances, he waved it off and would not even write up a contract. As I remember it, he muttered something under his breath about not wanting to waste the paper. (We are still in the original office without a contract.) Jim Bonny has been a very gracious landlord and a true friend of Wake Up America. The remaining money I had at the time (about $300), I offered to Shelley for part-time work. Jan and Shelley are people of great faith. I was embarrassed to make the offer and she was probably embarrassed to agree, but she took the job as Office Manager at what amounted to $5 an hour.

I could share many stories about the leading and blessings of God during the past nine years since Wake Up America was chartered. However, I am going to conclude these remarks with two wonderful facts. First, our daughter Shannon and Wade, the son of Jan and Shelley Betts, fell in love and were married more than six years ago. So far, there are no grandchildren – only grandanimals, three horses, two dogs and a manx. As you might expect, both sets of parents are happy because our children are happy. Second, the Lord continues to bless Wake Up Seminars, enabling us "to keep the lights on" and the phones answered – without asking for a penny. How many ministries can you name that operate like this? (Don't take me wrong – I am not implying that everyone should operate like this.) We have truly seen the hand of God. This ministry continues to operate by faith, and God has not failed us, nor will He fail you. To God be the glory! The door will only close and the lights will only go out at Wake Up Seminars when Jesus pulls the plug.

More Stories of Faith – Thrifty Nickel Ads

There is a small group of Wake Up America boosters in Denison, Texas. Let me share a chapter from their story of faith. The group is made up of approximately a dozen people who deeply love the Lord. They have tried about everything under the sun to share the good news that Jesus is coming. They have advertised for years in local newspapers, placed seminars on TV and offered free books to the public on various radio stations. They even went as far as to rent giant billboards on the Interstate offering free books. They have probably spent $40,000 sowing seeds all over north Texas during the past six years.

In May 1996, Willis and Dorothy Brock approached the group with a "new idea" for sowing more seed. They suggested that ads be placed in free advertising papers like the Thrifty Nickel. No one objected. After all, the expense for an ad was practically nothing compared with what had been spent on other projects. So, a ten-word ad was placed in the Dallas, Texas area Thrifty Nickel. The ad reads simply "FREE BOOK on Daniel and Revelation end-time prophecies. 1-800-701-9172." After the Dallas ad expired, they moved to other cities. Since June 6, 1996, the Brocks have sent out more than 5,705 books! (By the time you read this, the total should pass 6,000.) They now receive about 150 calls per week!

How did they do it? First, they obtained a 1-800 phone line and an answering machine. Here is the message they placed on the answering machine: "Thank you for calling for your free book on end-time prophecies. Please pronounce, then spell your name, street and city and state. Speak all numbers of your street address or P.O. Box, and your zip code very slowly. If you do not receive your book with a few days, please call again. God bless you!" They obtained the 1-800 number through Julie Banks at Touch America (1-800-823-4664). The cost is 11 cents per minute in increments of six seconds, so they can get one to three calls for 11 cents! They also purchased Zip Code Directories from the Post Office to verify addresses since people sometimes forget to give their zip code and this reduces the expense of returned mail.

Next, they contacted the people at Thrifty Nickel and insisted that their ad be placed in the miscellaneous section (the best place for these types of ads). They also received a discount from Thrifty Nickel because they place ads for four weeks and longer. Depending on the number of calls they receive when an ad expires, they either renew it or place the ad in a new city.

As you can see, this has turned into a wonderful (inexpensive) way of sowing seed. The neat thing about this venture is that those who call are people who want the book. The Warning! book is inexpensive (about 63 cents in case quantities), so the phone call, book, postage, envelope and cover letter is less than $2.00 per call.

Dorothy recently told me, "I cannot think of anything else to tell you but our treasurer’s report continues to show that our group has more money to spend each business meeting than we had the month before." Incidently, if you would like to talk with the Brocks about doing something like this in your area, give them a call at 903-465-6118. Dorothy or Willie will be happy to answer any questions you might have.

One Woman – 50,000 Books

I have said often, "The women are going to finish the gospel work." Here is an example of why I say this. Lylla Paddyfoote lives in New York state. According to my count, Lylla has personally distributed more than 50,000 books by hand. She travels to the Caribbean islands about 12 times a year, carrying cases and cases of books. If I remember correctly, she paid to have 20,000 books printed in Jamaica and then personally gave them out – one at a time! She has sown much seed and I know that some day, there will be a great harvest! In fact, as I write, she is off again to the islands to share the gospel. May God bless Lylla and the books she shares!

Two Women and a Flea Market

In Limestone County, Alabama, two elderly women have distributed 20,000 pieces of literature at a flea market on Highway 72. The flea market is open only Saturday and Sunday, and for the past two years, two white-haired grandmothers have faithfully served at their table, sharing and caring. They have had the opportunity to meet thousands of people and share wonderful things from the Bible. Not a weekend goes by without something exciting taking place. Some visitors have discovered a saving relationship with Jesus through their "table ministry." They give the literature away for free and donations to help defray costs are accepted, but not solicited. To their joy and amazement, there is always just enough money to cover expenses. Some day, when Jesus sends forth the reapers, there will be a harvest in Limestone County. I know these two ladies very well. After all, one is my own dear mother, Gladys Wilson and the other is her best friend, Aileen Mobley. Through cold and heat, rain and sunshine, they are sowing seed in Northern Alabama.

A Lending Library

Once you start talking about deeds of faith and courage, there is no end. I could dedicate a whole issue of Day Star to Allen and Frances Craw. These Washington State retirees, who say they are 80 years of age, (I have a hard time believing it) are two of the most effective Wake Up America boosters I have ever seen. For years, they have distributed more books, tapes, and letters than anyone can count. They have operated a lending library of study materials for a long time and have generously covered most of the expenses from their own pocket. I suppose they have distributed more video and audio tapes than even at our own office in Bellbrook! Everyone who knows them, marvels at their stamina and clarity. When it comes to writing, Frances has a way with words, she can "pin the tail on the donkey." She would probably prefer I say it like this, "fasten streams of long flowing black hair on the south-end of a northbound burrow."

Finding people that really love Jesus is the sweetest experience on Earth. Allen and Frances are as generous and thoughtful as anyone could ever expect to meet. I know they spend hundreds of dollars on phone calls. I know they spend hundreds of dollars on postage and tapes. The postal clerks in Eatonville, Washington anticipate Dr. Craw’s appointed arrival each afternoon as he arrives with a load of parcels from their lending library. I know Allen and Frances are faithful and diligent in their service to the King. I know there will be crowns of exceeding glory waiting for them when Jesus sets up His kingdom.

In a way, I think I understand how Paul felt as he was writing Hebrews 11. He begins by giving details about faith and the deeds of Noah, Abraham and Moses. As he begins to recite every name he can recall, those who lived by faith and the sacrifices they made, he finally gives up and just starts naming names! He concludes by saying,"Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated-the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground."(Hebrews 11:36-38)

Listen, I could tell you about Benjamin Mukuze in Zimbabwe or Charles Pulu in Kenya and the wonderful work that is growing in Africa. I could share about Ellen John and the growing work in India or about the Vorster family and others in South Africa, or Doug and Pauline Parker in Arizona, or the Round Rock, Texas study group and on and on and on. I could also speak of those individuals who support this ministry regularly and sacrificially. I know of many "widows’ mites." More important, God knows what is done in secret and He rewards accordingly.

The purpose for sharing these stories is to encourage you! You are not alone! Oh, that our readers might catch a vision, take courage and the advantage of some opportunity to sow seed in their "neighborhood." I plan to share more experiences in subsequent issues. Heaven’s gates stand ajar. The King is coming. This is no time to go to sleep! Sow seeds now. The reaping will come at the appointed time.

No Horses

Sometimes there is a strong almost overwhelming, temptation to measure and compare our efforts by looking at other organizations who have achieved large and successful followings. The problem with man is that success is often measured by width rather than depth. In this light, I would like to conclude this article with a story from the book of Joshua:

After Joshua destroyed Jericho and the city Ai, the Gibeonites came and deceived the Israelites – asking them to make a treaty and spare their lives. (God had informed Israel that it was not always necessary to totally destroy the people of cities that were located far away. Deuteronomy 20:14) The Gibeonites pretended they had come from a long distance and without consulting God, the Israelites agreed to a treaty. In a few days, however, the ruse of the Gibeonites was exposed. However, once the Israelites gave an oath, it could not be broken. So, Joshua reduced the Gibeonites to forced labor as woodcutters and water carriers forever.

Adoni-Zedek, king of Jerusalem, heard about the trickery of the Gibeonites. He became afraid that Joshua would make alliances with other nations and become king and conqueror all of Canaan. So, he rallied four kings from neighboring kingdoms to join him in battle against the Gibeonites. (The reason for attacking Gibeon was intimidation, pure and simple. This would serve as a warning to other nations not to make any treaties with Israel. Here was the basic threat: If anyone makes a treaty with Israel, the surrounding nations will destroy you. On the other hand, the small nations of Canaan knew that God had commanded Joshua to destroy all of the nations in central Canaan. So, what were they to do?)

The five kings set siege on Gibeon, united as one man. The Gibeonites called on Joshua for help. Joshua inquired of the Lord and the Lord said "GO." Immediately, the Israelites marched all night and surprised the five kings and commenced to destroy their armies. As five broken armies ran for their lives, the Lord knew that Israel would not catch them all (for Israel had marched all night). So, the Lord rained down hailstones on the enemy and destroyed more of them with hail than Israel destroyed with the sword! (Joshua 10:11) Meanwhile, Joshua realized that he would need more daylight if he was going to finish the job of destroying five armies. So, he commanded the sun to stand still – and it did! The Bible says the sun stopped in the middle of the day and delayed going down for about a full day! (Joshua 10:13)

Now several points stand out in this story. First, God used Israel as His instrument of destruction – to completely destroy nations that had filled their cup of iniquity. (See Deuteronomy 20:15-18; Leviticus 18:24; Genesis 15:16.) Second, when the five kings gathered to destroy Gibeon, God used the occasion to destroy five nations at once – saving Israel from much work later! Third, God joined Israel in destroying the five armies by sending hailstones from Heaven and causing the sun to stand still. These three points are self-explanatory. However, did you know that a great price comes with such victory?

The crushing victory over the five kings by Joshua produced a new problem. News of Joshua’s prowess threatened larger nations. When Jabin, king of Hazor, heard the news about Joshua and his God destroying five powerful nations in one day, he was aghast. He could see that nothing was going to stop the advance of Israel. So, Jabin united many kings and their armies to deal decisively with Joshua. The Bible says of Jabin’s army,"They came out with all their troops and a large number of horses and chariots – a huge army, as numerous as the sand on the seashore."(Joshua 11:4) Now the tide had turned and it was Joshua’s turn to be on the defense. He inquired of the Lord and asked what he should do about this numberless host who were enemies and God said,". . . Do not be afraid of them, because by this time tomorrow I will hand all of them over to Israel, slain. You are to hamstring their horses and burn their chariots."(Joshua 11:6)

Now we come to the climatic part of this story. God enabled Joshua and his men to quickly attack and defeat this entire united force and they left no survivors! (Joshua 11:8) Of course, Joshua was victorious because God enabled the victory! This point cannot be diminished or set aside. Let's face it. Succ ess belongs to God and so can failure! (Yes, God allowed Israel to meet defeat from time to time to remind them that their victories were not due to human prowess.) But, why did God require Joshua to cripple all of the horses by hamstringing them? Answer: Horses and chariots were considered in those days to be what nuclear arms are today. Nothing has changed. Down through the ages to the present, when it comes to the military mind set, the side with the most and best, wins.

Just before Israel entered Canaan, Moses commanded the Israelites saying,"The king [that the Lord will choose], moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the Lord has told you, "You are not to go back that way again."(Deuteronomy 17:16) Why did God forbid them to have large numbers of horses? Simple. Man soon trusts in his horses for military might. If man has a string of military successes, man begins to think he is God. What can be more pompous and arrogant than a successful man or woman? The Bible record shows that Israel did not acquire large numbers of horses for about 400 years. The Bible says of King David,"David captured a thousand of his [the king of Zobah] chariots, seven thousand charioteers and twenty thousand foot soldiers. He hamstrung all but a hundred of the chariot horses."(2 Samuel 8:4) However, notice that David’s son, Solomon, did just the opposite."Solomon had four thousand stalls for chariot horses, and twelve thousand horses."(1 Kings 4:26) Where did Solomon get these horses?"Solomon’s horses were imported from Egypt and from Kue [Cilcia in Asia Minor] – the royal merchants purchased them from Kue."(1 Kings 10:28) I assume the reader knows the sad story of Solomon. The acquisition of horses was one of several flaws in Solomon’s character and faith that led to disaster. Unfortunately, Israel started on a slippery downward course during Solomon’s reign from which it never recovered. The moral behind God’s command concerning horses is this: "Do not set yourself up for spiritual failure through material success." We must always depend on God. We must always live by faith.

So Much More to the Christmas Story

Since this is the December issue of Day Star , and this issue highlights faith, a few thoughts about the birth of Jesus are also fitting. Every year at this time we hear much about the birth of Jesus. Yet it surprises me that few, if any, frankly discuss the issues that surround "why" Jesus had to be born. If you asked most Christians why Jesus had to be born, they would probably say something like, "He was born to save us from our sins." (See Matthew 1:21.) I do not have a problem with that remark, I just wish the larger picture was discussed.

Here are a few thoughts you might want to ponder whenever you consider why the birth of Jesus took place. Jesus was born into this world as the predestined object of God’s wrath. Please understand that God’s wrath is not necessarily a passionate expression of anger. (Yes, God does have passionate feelings of anger at times. See Exodus 4:14; Numbers 11:33; 25:3) But in judicial terms, God’s wrath is the fair and unbiased administration of law. When Adam and Eve sinned, they were to be executed the day of their sin. (Genesis 2:17) The wrath or penalty for violating God’s law is death by execution. Why is the consequence so drastic? Because the nature of sin creates an anti-God being. Try to understand the problem. In a universe of sinless beings, there is law, but there is no violation of the law and therefore, no expression of penalty (wrath). Yet, when sin occurs, the nature of the being that sins is instantly changed. He becomes anti-God. (Adam and Eve radically changed from a propensity of righteous to a propensity of rebellion against God the day they sinned. They ran from God because of this change in nature. See also Romans 8:7.) Death by execution is required for the penalty of sin because if it were possible, beings with corrupt natures would ultimately destroy God and all He has made. (See Revelation 19:19,20.) Sinners cannot help themselves – it is their nature to be anti-God. The only way to keep the universe free from destruction and the infection of sin is to totally eliminate those who sin and are, therefore, bent toward lawlessness. This is why God executes the wicked with fire (including the devil and his angels) at the end of the thousand years. (Notice, they are thrown into the lake of fire! Revelation 20:15) Dying from the consequences of sin (cancer, stroke, accident, illness, etc.) cannot be equated with paying the penalty for sin. If that were the case, then the Father would have only had to wait for Jesus to grow old on Earth and die "a natural death." Understand, the penalty for sin is not natural death. Execution is altogether another matter.

The point I am driving at is that Adam and Eve were about to be executed after eating the fruit when Jesus "stepped in the way" and prevented their execution. From that moment on, Jesus became man’s intercessor. (Psalm 2; Hebrews 7:21,22) Jesus was permitted to be man’s intercessor on the basis that He would personally take man’s place and receive the penalty the sinful human race deserved. Understand also that the substitution of Christ’s life for man had to be perfect. In other words, Jesus could only satisfy the demands of God’s law (wrath) if His life was sinless. If Jesus sinned (and the possibility was present), then He would have come under the condemnation of God’s law, just like Adam and Eve and their offspring. In this condition, He could not have saved even Himself. The Father would have killed Him and never resurrected Him. Few people truly understand the significance of what occurred when the Father resurrected Jesus. (Acts 2:32) How grateful we should be that the sacrifice offered by Jesus was perfect and acceptable to the Father.

So, the birth of Jesus resolves many issues. Yes, Jesus came to save His people from their sins. Yes, He came to redeem sinners. Yes, He came as the object of God’s wrath – to be executed as the law demands. The most wonderful aspect of this miracle to me is that Jesus not only came to save those who yield their hearts and accept Him as Lord and Savior, but He also came to satisfy God’s demands and in the process offer salvation to man! Now, if that does not put a song in your heart, nothing can. The overwhelming goodness of God prompted the angels to sing, "Peace on Ea rth, goodwill toward men."