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O Holy Night

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O Holy Night

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O Holy Night So begins the popular carol, but night and darkness can sometimes be unpleasant, even sinister. How often they are associated with foreboding and fear, so that people long for the day. In some respects that particular night was just another night, same as the rest. Bethlehem was asleep except for the few shepherds guarding their flocks in the nearby fields. But it was not really just another night! It would be historical, memorable! it was to be, in the words of the carol, ''The night of the dear Saviour's birth''. .That great event had long been promised. No sooner had our first parents sinned in the Garden of Eden than God in grace had promised a Saviour, a Redeemer. But many many centuries had passed. Promises had been repeated that He would come, and until this night He had not appeared. Would he really come? Then, suddenly, the darkness of this holy night was dispelled. An angel appeared to the shepherds, and with him a multitude of celestial beings. The Eastern sky was alight with the glory of the Lord. The message of the angels was glorious too, the promised Saviour had come! However, the circumstances of His coming were in great contrast to the angelic glory. There was no splendour, no pomp and no royal welcome. Just a baby born in an out-building, perhaps indeed a stable, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid to sleep in a manger bed by a peasant girl from Nazareth. But this tender infant was, in the words of the angel, ''Christ the Lord''! The baby in the manger was in fact the Son of God, in great grace coming into our world to accomplish salvation for guilty men and women. And at what a cost! In the vicinity of the Shepherds' Fields at Bethlehem there is today an interesting place which reads, ''The revelation of God's great condescension was first given to shepherds, poorest of sinners, and still today God's word is true that He will behold those who are of a contrite heart and will dwell with them''. How true indeed. Note how the angels bypassed the proud leaders of the nation, the great men of the day, and even the King himself. Is there a lesson for us? Surely it is that those who will come in true repentance, humbly confessing sin and failure and seeking forgiveness, will receive corresponding grace from God. He has ever been ''a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness'' (Nehemiah 9.17). But forgiveness was purchased at incalculable cost. That manger at Bethlehem was the beginning of a perfect life which would lead to Calvary, where the Lord Jesus would offer Himself as a sacrifice for sin and sinners. Just as that holy night of His birth was turned into day by the glory of the heavenly messengers, the day of His crucifixion was turned into night as He suffered in loneliness on the cross. He voluntarily went into deep dense darkness and suffered as a sinless substitute, forsaken by God for guilty sinners. Before His birth the angel's word to Joseph was ''Call His name Jesus for He shall save His people from their sins'' (Matthew 1.21) and now salvation is offered freely to every repentant sinner. Jesus is now risen from the dead. He is alive in heaven from which He came. From that place of glory He invites every needy sinner to come to Him. Countless thousands have come to Him in simple faith, resting on Him alone for salvation. They have stood, as it were, by His cross, and heard the words, ''Christ died for our sins'' (1 Corinthians 15.3), ''Christ died for the ungodly'' (Romans 5.6), and they have said, ''He died for me''. How many there are who thank God for that holy night when He came silently into the darkness of our world to turn our night into day. Have you trusted Him to do that for you? J M Flanigan

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Order Code 150193
Language English

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