Change your perspective

Based on: Revelation 12:1-6

Have you ever witnessed a car accident?  Your perspective can make a big difference in how you think about what happened.  Imagine that you were just at an intersection and you saw a car coming from your right.  It swerved out of its lane and hit a car coming from the other direction.  Perhaps you think how foolish it was for the one driver to not pay attention.

But what if you saw the accident from another perspective?  What if you were looking down from above and you saw the little boy get away from his mother and run toward the street?  You would understand why the driver swerved out of his lane.  What if your perspective even included the thoughts of this driver as he recognized that little boy as his own?  Your broader perspective helps you better understand the event.

Now let me ask, “With what perspective do you watch the events of Christmas?”  Is it from the side, is it from above, or do you know what God thinks about Christmas?

Think about Christmas and all of the scenes that play through your mind related to Christmas.  Perhaps you picture a stable or a cave where animals were kept and there Mary gave birth to Jesus.  Maybe you think how unfortunate it was that there wasn’t a hotel room for them, instead Mary has to take care of baby Jesus by laying him in a feeding trough.  You might even marvel at the angel telling the shepherds to go and see the baby Jesus and the shepherds doing it!

We see the scene over and over again on cards, the nativity sets we put up at home and at church, and even in the Charlie Brown Christmas Special on TV.  It is very easy to hear the Christmas story, see it pictured, and think that it is all so nice, so nostalgic, so quaint. If that is where Christmas ends for you then change your perspective.  If you look at a nativity scene and do not understand that it was your sin that brought him here, if you hear the Christmas account and the thought doesn’t come to mind that he left heaven so you could have heaven, then change your perspective!

Look at Christmas from God’s point of view.  Get into the mind of God and “see this thing that has happened.”  To get into the mind of God you need look no further than Holy Scripture.  As you read your Bible, God is telling you what he thinks about you.

As you look at Christmas from the eyes of God you will see that the birth of this child was promised long before he came.  And because God had promised it, many people were waiting for God to keep his promise.  For thousands of years the believers watched, waited, and at times suffered persecution.  Not only did they wait and watch, but think about how many of them are physically related to Jesus.  With every generation there were some who carried the genetic material that would one day produce the Savior.  Eve, Noah, Abraham, Judah, Rahab, King David and many others were all ancestors of Jesus.  Jesus was the offspring of the very people he came to save.  (More about that next week.)  So, in more than just a figurative sense, the Old Testament church, those who trusted God’s promise to send this child, gave birth to this child.  This Jesus, who makes the church radiate with his own glory and gives the church the crown of victory, is also the offspring, not just of Mary, but of the church.

But there is more than that when it comes to looking at Christmas from God’s perspective.  There was someone else also waiting and watching for the coming of this child.  Satan was waiting for his opportunity to destroy this child. 

Satan was once an angel of God created to serve God, but he rebelled against God and became an enemy of God.  When he rebelled he took many other angels with him.  Now the goal of Satan and his demons is to destroy anything good that God has created, including our relationship with God.  That’s exactly what he destroyed when he tempted Adam and Eve to reject God in the Garden of Eden.

If Satan was in the Garden of Eden trying to destroy the relationship between God and his people, what do you think he will try to do when God promises a Savior to restore that good relationship?  Wouldn’t he, in his anger and spite, want to devour the Savior before he can accomplish his goal?  Wouldn’t he be ready to destroy him when he is most vulnerable – while he is on earth? 

We don’t often think about it, but Satan was waiting for that first Christmas.  It was his opportunity to bring us all to hell with him.  When Jesus was born into this world, Satan did all he could to devour him.  Herod tried to kill him as a baby. Satan tried to tempt him to sin.  Demons possessed people and tried to spoil his work.  His enemies tried to kill him before his time. 

I know we are starting to go beyond the events of Christmas, but as we look at Christmas we need to look at bigger picture.  None of Satan’s attacks worked, and now Jesus has ascended into heaven.  He is at the throne of God ruling the nations with an iron scepter, as the Bible says.  His work on earth is done and Satan can do nothing about it and so he now turns his attention to us.  He wants to destroy us.  But we will be kept safe until Jesus returns.

To see Christmas from God’s perspective is to see that we all to often look at things from our own limited and selfish perspective.  God’s perspective includes the truth that we needed a Savior to come.  God’s perspective of Christmas also includes his plan to save us by the Savior he sent and Satan’s failed attempts to keep us.  God’s view of Christmas includes Jesus eventually suffering hell, the punishment for our sins, on the cross. 

There are a few other things you need to know before we finish.  When you see the number twelve in Scripture, there is often a connection to God’s people, the church.  Think about the twelve sons of Jacob, the twelve tribes of Israel, or the twelve disciples.

When you see the number seven in Scripture it is often connected to God’s gracious interaction with his people.  It is also used by Satan who tries to imitate God or take his place.  Think about the seven days of creation (6+1), the lampstand in the temple with seven lamps, or the  seven elders chosen to serve in the church in Jerusalem.

The time period of seven years can be used  to represent the complete amount of time God deals with his people on earth. If you divide that time in half to symbolically represent the time before Christ came and the time between his first coming and his second coming, then each would three and a half years.  According to the Hebrew calendar this would be about 1,260 days.

And now listen to God’s description of Christmas from Revelation 12

A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.

Amen.

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