PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: “The Monster At the Manger” By: Ron Woodrum
Our January Bible Study for 2020 is the Book of Jeremiah. We have a lot of favorite verses in Jeremiah. One of the first ones is Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in thye womb, I knew you, before you were born, I set you apart, I appointed you as a prophet to the nations!”; Jeremiah 6:16 “This is what the LORD says, ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask for the good way, and walk in it, you will find rest for your souls’ ” ;Jeremiah 17:7-8 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him. They shall be like a tree planted by the water, that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear heat when it comes; it leaves are always green, it has no worries in the year of drought, and never fails to bear fruit”. Of course, those two verses are followed by a very piercing one! Jeremiah 17: 9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who can know it? We love Jeremiah 29:11 “I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you, and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future!” That is true because of what the Lord says in 31:3 “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with my unfailing kindness.” An Evangelist friend of mine, Ed F. Vallowe always signed his name with Jeremiah 33:3 “Call unto me and I will answer and show you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” But no one seems to ever quote Jeremiah 31:15 “Thus saith the LORD, ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, a lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, for they are no more!” Fleming Rutledge reminds us that “Advent began with great darkness”, and in her sermon she reminds us that even that first Christmas, “there was a Monster at the manger”. It seems that a Pastor that she knew was putting out the figures of the family nativity on the coffee table in the living room, near the Christmas tree. His 4-year-old, interested in what was going on, was right there watching each figure as it was being put in place. Each time he asked, “who is that Dad?” After they were all in place, Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, The Wise Men, the Shepherds, the animals. All in place. The youngster couldn’t resist adding one more figure- (he was fascinated with dinosaurs, as most his age are), so he placed in the midst of the holy characters, his larger tyrannosaurus rex! As he did, he said, “Dad look, there’s a Monster in the Manger!” Rutledge reminds us that when the wise men arrived in Jerusalem, seeking the Born King of the Jews, there was a Monster, King Herod, who wanted to follow them to Bethlehem, to destroy the Baby Jesus, before He even had his beginning to “save His people from their sins!” He was a monster at the manger! Jeremiah’s prophecy predicted an event that would accompany the Birth of Jesus. Herod, the brutal maniac that he was ordered all the male babies two years old, and younger to be slaughtered. Herod was indeed a monster. He killed his beloved wife Mariamne; he killed three of his own sons, because of his paranoia; Caesar Augustus said, “Better to be Herod’s sow, than his son!” You would stand a better chance of staying alive! Make no mistake about it-there was a greater Monster behind the horrible act of Herod. His name was Satan. As he moved Pharaoh to destroy the male children, to destroy Moses, he stirred the evil heart of Herod, to cause history to repeat itself. In the midst of all the rejoicing of the Christmas season, we need to remember there was remorse as well. Jesus came to “destroy the works of the devil”. The devil knew he must strike first. But as always, he has visions of grandeur, but cannot ever defeat God, or His Christ! So even in the early Christmas narrative we are shown that as Satan strikes out to “steal, kill, and destroy” that God has His counter-moves to defeat and destroy the “monster at the manger!”
As Hal Lindsey wrote in his book, Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth, that is still true in 2019 as it was in 1972. Maybe more so! But Christmas is a reminder that his days are numbered. Jesus was saved when Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt. When Jesus comes again, Satan will have no where to flee! Even so come Lord Jesus.