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Jack Graham - A Cosmic Christmas

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    Jack Graham - A Cosmic Christmas
TOPICS: Wish List, Christmas, Spiritual warfare

Take your Bibles and turn with me to Revelation, chapter 12, the book of Revelation. And what you're about to hear I truly believe is the most unique and unusual Christmas text that I've ever taken and the most different Christmas message that I have ever delivered. Even the title "A Cosmic Christmas". Now you're going to discover what that is about and why we're saying this today. But there have been some famous battles in history, of course. You can recall some of them, learned in school, here in America: Valley Forge; of course, Gettysburg. We think about the Battle of the Bulge, think about D-Day and Normandy which liberated Europe; Waterloo.

So many famous battles in history. Unfortunately, the world throughout its history has experienced wars and even in the last days rumors of wars. More and more wars. But today I'm going to speak to you about another battle. It's the battle at Bethlehem. Have you ever heard of it? The battle at Bethlehem. Now I know that Christmas is a celebration, and I love the celebration. Bring it on! And we're grateful for the opportunity that we have to light the night and put up the trees and the lights and all the joyous things that we do to celebrate the birth of the King, the birth of Jesus. So, yes, let's celebrate the King of kings and the Lord of lords. But in reality, at that first Christmas and before and beyond what happened when Christ was born is all about a confrontation. A raging war that has been sweeping through time and before time.

In eternity-past and throughout the present and into eternity-future. A battle, a spiritual war. And it's about two kingdoms: the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of hell. The kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. It's about light versus darkness. It's a cosmic conflict. So the Incarnation which means God in flesh, God with us, the Incarnation is an invasion. What happened when Christ came to earth was a heavenly invasion and when the angels were shouting and dancing on the stars that night and sang "Glory to God in the highest," yes, they were worshipers worshiping the newborn King; announcing His birth; they were witnesses, but they were also warriors. The angels are mighty and powerful warriors.

What happened when the angels showed up at Bethlehem, that was a was an air-raid! All a part of this heavenly invasion when the Savior was born, the Messiah has come, and ultimately the victory is won. A war that will not be over until Christ comes again, and establishes His eternal kingdom; and ultimately defeats and destroys Satan and all the enemies of the Gospel. War will never be over until then. We wish that somehow there could be a truce, just a truce, just a pause for peace.

It did happen in the First World War. 1914 on December 7, 1914 British soldiers on the western front dug in their trenches. They began hearing Christmas carols from the German side. And later on the Germans decided to approach the Brits and call for a truce, a cease-fire. And so they sent an individual with a white flag over no-man's land and the Brits had a conversation. The Brits were concerned because they thought it was some kind of trap the Germans were setting. But, no, they were serious and so they had an agreement. And on Christmas Eve, the 24th of 2014, or 1914 rather, all fighting stopped. And they even played some soccer together; played some ball together; and then Christmas day. And when it was over you know what happened? They started fighting again. It was just a truce; it was just a moment. And we're glad for that moment but the war is not over.

And you know why the war never stops? Because behind the scenes in the air, in the atmosphere, in the supernatural realm, a spiritual supernatural war is raging. And that's when we pick up in the story of Revelation 12, and beginning at verse 1. This is in the midst of the Great Tribulation period at the end of the age, the end of the era. The church, followers of Jesus have been taken to heaven and then there is hell on earth, and this cosmic battle increases, and here's what happens, as the Revelator John is talking about the sweeping war from eternity-past to eternity-future. "And a great (wonder or) sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. And (another wonder) another sign appeared in heaven", again, this is in the heavenlies.

This is in the spiritual atmosphere. "Another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne".

Now, let's just stop right there. Who in the world, or who in the other world are these, the radiant woman, a wonder woman, a wonder in the sky. So this is wonder-woman right here. And then a red dragon, a radiant woman, a red dragon and then a reigning child. Male child. Who is the radiant woman? She is pregnant and so she's glowing like the sun. She's resilient and beautiful. Some say, primarily Catholic theologians, the Catholic church suggests that this woman is Mary. But for a number of reasons that I don't have time to talk about right now, this could not be Mary. Primarily because it's clear really who this is and it's not Mary. Others suggest that this radiant woman is the Church known as the bride of Christ. But the radiant woman could not be the Church because the Church did not give birth to Jesus; Jesus birthed the Church; Jesus gave us the Church. The Church did not give us Jesus.

So it's abundantly clear to me that this beautiful, wondrous, magnificent woman with a crown with twelve diadems is Israel. This is Israel, the people chosen of God. The garland of twelve stars speaks of the twelve tribes of Israel and it is a direct allusion to the dream of Joseph in Genesis 37. So what you have here is Israel in the midst of the Great Tribulation. Why Israel? Well, we need to backup and remember that God birthed Israel. God chose Israel as His own people. In fact, in Genesis chapter 12, this is covenant, the eternal covenant with Abraham. Verse 3 of Genesis 12: "I will bless those who bless you. And him who dishonors you, I will curse, and in all the families of the earth shall be blessed".

So we are told in the Scriptures that Israel is blessed of God and all that bless Israel will be blessed, and all who curse Israel will be cursed. It's a very special anointing and appointing on the nation of Israel. And primarily this covenant was to be the track, the generation, the genealogy of the One who would come to be the Savior of the world, Now to understand even more of this, I need to back you up to the Garden of Eden. The man and the woman had sinned against God and judgment has come. As a result of the temptation of the Serpent, God pronounced a judgment and proclaimed a Gospel there in the Garden of Eden. It's the first Gospel message in the Bible. The Bible is Gospel through and through. Good News through and through.

And the first message of hope and deliverance comes right in the Garden of Eden after the fall and the failure of Adam and Eve, and this judgment was pronounced upon Satan himself; and it is Genesis 3:15, God says, “I will put enmity, that is war between you and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring; your seed, her seed. He (that is, the seed of the woman) shall bruise your head and you shall bruise His heel.” So war is there declared. A war that had been going on previously in the heavenlies, in heaven itself. Before the world was created, before the Garden of Eden, before Adam and Eve, before humanity, God existed in His glory and angelic beings surrounded Him with praise and adoration.

That there was an angel, a powerful and beautiful angel by the name of Lucifer, the son of the morning. And Lucifer decided, “I'm too great for God. I will exalt myself above the throng of God, above the heavens of God.” And Lucifer the son of the morning, revolted against God, rebelled against God, and led this revolt in heaven. And as a result, God judged Lucifer and cast him out. And with the dismissal of Lucifer, who became the devil, came one third of the stars of heaven. We read that earlier, didn't we? When we're reading about this red dragon and his tail sweeping away one third of the stars. The stars don't reference the stars and the planets. That's not astronomy; that is spiritual truth in that with this revolt one third of the heavenly host with Lucifer were cast out, thrown out of heaven. And these became demon spirits. And this is how the devil became the devil.

Well, we don't have to wonder about who is the red dragon, because verse 9 says: "And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him". You know, don't you, that the devil is not in hell? He's not down in hell, you know, making, with a pitchfork making people bend over and shovel coal. No, the devil is like a "roaring lion, roaming the earth, seeking who he may devour"! The devil and these demon spirits, they're in the air! He's called the prince of the power of the air. He's called the god of this age, the prince of the power of the air!

And so Satan is raging, he is ravishing across the earth. And the evil and the violence and the war and all the rest that is going on, even in our own culture. This is a satanic movement! This is the power of the devil; this is the war that has been going on from heaven and now on earth. And so no wonder the devil who is the deceiver and a liar, and Jesus said a murderer from the beginning. He hates God and so guess who he hates? The people of God! I'll tell you this about the devil: Of all the things the devil is, he is antichrist and he antisemitic! He hates the people of God! And so here you have this red dragon, like a huge dinosaur, this serpent who is the devil! And he comes against the radiant woman who is pregnant and crying out, trying to stop the birth. This has been going on a long time. It goes all the way through time and through history, through crusades and then to the holocaust and Hitler.

And even today antisemitism is rising in America to some degree. Certainly, in Western Europe. And persecution against people of all faith and certainly Christians, people who love and follow Jesus are being persecuted. Many martyred and dying around the world at unprecedented pace. Here in America, we don't see hardly any physical persecution; we are seeing cultural resistance which is getting worse. This is all about this war that is the war of the ages, the war of heaven, the war of eternity that has come to pass. God-Satan, light-darkness, heaven-hell, Christ-antichrist. The red dragon—Satan's seed versus God's Seed.

The devil tried to stop the birth of Jesus, but, of course, he couldn't because here's the thing: Satan is powerful, but he's not all powerful. He's mighty but he's not almighty. There's one Almighty - our God who reigns! Satan is not equal. This is not a fair fight. In fact, it is a fixed fight. The battle is ultimately already won! When Christ went to the cross and died on the cross and defeated the enemy! And one day the devil will be in hell. The devil will be put in the pit, in the abyss, and all who follow him will go with him! So God has no rival! God has no equal! But He does have an enemy. And so the battle rages.

And so because Satan hates God, he hates God's people. And so we're in the target zone, we're in the war zone. What's going on all around us, that's the war! The male child? I don't have to tell you, do I, who the male is? That's Jesus. That's the one who was born. And I love what it says about the birth of Jesus here in verse 5: "She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne". Do you notice what's missing in that sentence? The birth of Jesus, it happens, and then the child is caught up to the throne of God. Right from the manger to the majestic throne of God.

There's no mention of the cross here, though the cross, of course, is the message we proclaim. But not here. This doesn't mention the cross. This is the Incarnation and then the exaltation and coronation of Jesus, the King. Which means that when Christ was born and the battle was fought at Bethlehem, that Jesus was there exalted and then exalted into the presence of God. He would live a perfect life. He would die on the cross and rise again on the third day, ascended to the Father, and now on the throne! The cradle touches the crown. The cross is in the middle, but it's the cradle, it's the manger that puts the Messiah on the throne.

And that's what God is teaching us right here in the Revelation because it's all about the Last Days and the Tribulation and what's going to happen at the end when Christ is exalted. And what happens in verse 15 of Revelation 11, you know how we got the hallelujah Chorus? Right out of Revelation 11:15: "Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, 'The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever and ever.'" And if you want to know what the book of Revelation is all about, we took time, what the Bible itself: New Testament, Old Testament, all the covenants, the New Testament, the Old Testaments, the covenants, the Law, the grace. You know what it's all about ultimately? Our God reigns! Jesus Christ is Lord! And at Bethlehem a deathblow was delivered and Christ gave us victory.

So the only proper response is praise! Sing hallelujah because the Savior is born! The battle is heating up as we near the rapture of the church and the final Tribulation. And the battle typically surrounds truth. What is truth? The devil is a slanderer and a liar! He promotes lies of all kinds so this is why our battle surrounds the issue of what is truth and what is not truth! And that battle will continue until we're taken home. But in this very passage of Scripture, the Child born in the manger becomes the Man who was nailed to the cross, and the One who ascended on high. And when it's just like it looks like it's getting worse and worse, and it is, we need to remember that Christ reigns.

Longfellow was in deep depression in the middle of the Civil War. William Wadsworth Longfellow. He had a child that was severely injured, a wife had died, the nation was divided. He was brokenhearted. And he started writing the poem that became the song "I Heard the Bells". And he's reflecting on how it seems that hate prevail, the hate and the wrong is just everywhere. And he's lamenting this. And then he's taking a walk and he hears the bells in the church tower, ringing. And he said, "I heard the bells of Christmas, that hate would be destroyed, the rights would be made right and all would be well, because I heard the bells".

I like Christmas bells, but let me just call you hear the bells to battle, because the Christmas bells remind me that we are in a battle and that right and might of Christ will prevail. So this is Christmas. This is Christmas. Wars not over. But the victory's been won. In verse 11 of Revelation 12 says: "And they overcame him (meaning the safe in the tribulation period, they overcame him. But it also includes us) by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto death".

So what am I challenging us to do at this Christmas? Is the fight the good fight of faith. To keep fighting because when we do, we're to keep winning. There are battles that will be lost but we win because we're on God's team! We're on the Lord's side! If you are on Satan's team, if you're on Satan's side, it's not going to end well; it's going to end in hell. But Jesus came for you so that you could be saved from the power of the red dragon. And one more thing: It should be praised and it should be battle. But it also should be proclamation.

Our testimony should be strong and true. We should not fear Satan. We should not fear death. We should not fear hell. We should not fear condemnation. We should never fear defeat. Rather, we go forward. We want the whole world to hear about our Jesus! We want people to know and love our God. We want to give and go and serve so that people won't die and go to hell with Satan. But so that people will live and have eternal life for our Lord and with our Lord forever and ever and ever. Amen? This is Christmas! We look forward to the day when war is over and there will be peace in the valley and the lamb will lay down with the lion. And a child will put his hand over the hole of the serpent. And there will be peace, sweet peace, heavenly peace forever and ever. Amen?
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