Christmas Message 2019
by Roel Velema
“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God” (Galatians 4:4-7).
In this Christmas meditation I want to dwell with you on these words of Paul. I choose this section because I like that great word ‘fullness’. Fullness refers to being full, being fulfilled, being complete and perfect. Paul refers to the completion of a period of time. The birth of Christ therefore came at the ‘the right time’. Fullness in Scripture however is not limited to time, but also applies to God and to man. So let’s take a closer look at these three aspects of fulness relative to Christmas.
1. The fullness of God
When the Son of God came to this earth, the fullness of God came too. Yes, the fullness of God in a baby, in Jesus. But that’s not all, the whole Trinity of God was involved in Christmas. The Father was involved because God the Father sent His Son. The Son went in complete harmony with the Father, for His food was to do the will of the Father.
God knew that man would sin and in need of redemption. But who was willing to redeem him? The answer to that question is to be found in Isaiah 6:
“And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me” (Isa. 6:8)
In that passage Isaiah offered to go and was sent to Israel, but the deepest application of this chapter was to Christ Himself (cp. John 12:41).
“Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” For Us, for the Trinity, for the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And the Son said, “Here I am! Send Me.” This is the deepest meaning of Isaiah 6:8.
The Holy Spirit was also involved in Christmas when the angel said to Joseph, “Do not be afraid to take Mary your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 1:20). God in His fullness was involved in the birth of Jesus.
Christmas is the Trinity at work. Yes, the Trinity! Only the Trinity made Christmas possible! The God of Israel is a family, a royal family (cp. Hebr. 2:10). That is why God has never been lonely, for the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit love each other. All other gods are needy gods. But God wanted us out of grace. Every one-person-god is lonely and cannot be love. Our the God of Israel is a Trinity. Only the Trinity by definition can be love.
Allah is not loving and does not offer redemption, at most success. Without the Trinity the cross cannot work. The Father had a willing Son to redeem us. So the way we see God determines how we see the gospel.
The devil is lonely and needs to destroy us. We see this difference so aptly described in C.S. Lewis’ book “The Screwtape Letters”, in which a senior devil, Screwtape, writes to the junior devil Wormwood:
“One must therefore dare to face that everything that is said about His Love for people and about the complete freedom that lies in serving Him is not just propaganda (although we would like to believe that!), but an astounding truth. It truly IS His intention to populate the world with an army of nauseated little copies of Himself, creatures whose life, in miniature format, will be essentially like His, not because He has absorbed, but because they have voluntarily added their will to His. We want cattle that can become food in the long run. We want to swallow, He wants to pour out. We are empty and want to become full; It is full and overflows. The purpose of our war is a world filled with beings, in which our Father Down (the devil!) Has absorbed all other beings; the Enemy wants a world filled with beings, one with Him and yet himself.”
God is full and overflowing and wants a world filled with people full of Himself. This brings us to the next aspect.
2. The fullness of man
“For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Colossians 1:19).
“For in Him all the fullness of deity dwells bodily; and you have been filled in Him who is the head of all rule and authority” (Colossians 2:9,10).
Because the fullness of the deity lives in Christ – in the baby in Bethlehem too! – the same fullness of God also lives in us! He is our life and that is why we share in His fullness. He is the light of the world and that is why we are the light of the world. Never ask God to be who you already are or what you already have. We share in His fullness. Christmas means that you are aware of His fullness that you have obtained.
“Oh, make me a light anyway.” No, you are the light in Him!
“I want to live closer to you.” No, the branch cannot live closer to the Vine. They are one.
The spirit of Christmas is to recognize the birth of Jesus as a hint to our rebirth. Of course, the rebirth occurs in resurrection. Therefore Christmas, Easter and the Ascension belong together.
3. The fullness of time
We see different times in the Bible:
“The fullness of time” – Christmas
“The fullness of the times” (Ephesians 1:10) – Messianic era
“Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are” (Luke 21:24) – the period from Nebuchadnezzar to the coming of Christ.
God is always at the right time, because God is a God of order and purpose. Christmas came at the right time, just as the second return of Christ will occur at the right time. Nothing is out of control with God.
If God gave His Son to this world at the right time, could the Jews know that time? Yes, they could know, based on Daniel 9:24-27 – the prophecy of the seventy-year weeks. Daniel said it would take 69 year-weeks, i.e. 62 times 7 = 483 years, from the time to rebuild Jerusalem to the death of Messiah, the Prince. This period began when Nehemiah stood before King Artaxerxes (Neh. 2:1-8). Bible commentaries usually give the date 445 BC as the start of the rebuilding of Jerusalem. It was in the month of Nisan that king Artaxerxes gave his decree (Neh. 2:1), and it was in the month of Nisan that the Lord Jesus died (cf. Lev. 23:5-6; Numbers 28:16-17). Up to the year 33 the 69 weeks included a period of 445+32 (the year zero after Christ does not exist) = 477 years.
These 477 years are, however, solar years (solar years), years of 365.25 days. However, the Bible calculates lunar years (lunar years), years of 360 days (compare Gen. 7:11 with Gen. 8:3-4, and compare Rev. 11:2 with Rev. 11:3). These lunar years are also called prophetic years.
The 477 solar years are
equal to 477 * 365.25/360 = 484 lunar years. This only differs one year if we
consider a year week as 7 lunar years. After all, then 69 year weeks include:
69 * 7 = 483 lunar years. Difference in rounding and inaccuracy of years can
easily explain the difference of one year. We can therefore only come to one
conclusion: Scripture gave light about the time of the death of the Messiah.
His birth then would be some decades earlier.
Now to the practical application:
We have seen this trilogy:
1. The fullness of God
2. The fullness of us
3. The fullness of time
We find this trilogy also in 1 John 4:7:
“As He is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17).
1. The fullness of God – I AM – He is
2. The fullness of man – I am – as He is
3. The fullness of time – at every moment – in this world.
If you keep this in mind, you will remain in the spirit of Christmas – in the fulness of Him as you!
P.S. We are very close to the second coming of Christ, based on the septenary arrangement of Scripture, i.e. six days as 1000 lunar days, followed by a seventh day. After His death Christ will come back after two days, on the third day – after two days, at the daybreak of the third day – after 2000+ years. At the present time (let’s say spring of 2020), we are 1987 years beyond the events of Calvary. Converting these 1987 years to 360-day years gives us 2016 years, which is at least 16 years too many. So we are at the daybreak of third millennium! The return of Christ can be here at any moment! So Christmas gives a hint that we are now at the right time relative to His second coming!!!