Several years ago I completed a 3-year study curriculum that goes through each book of the Bible, at the fast pace of one book a week. We studied Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the 12 Tribes, Noah, King David, and Queen Esther. In Leviticus we learned about the Law, the Feasts, the Offerings God required of His people. We uncovered the Shema in Deuteronomy. We read about the Prophets’ foretelling and warning Israel of their sin. We were amazed that God’s chosen people, over and over and over again repeated the cycle of turning from God, being defeated, begging for mercy, and then being restored to Him. Sounds familiar.
I gained a deeper meaning of the “kinsman redeemer” from the book of Ruth that forever intensified my view of Christ as my personal Redeemer. I learned about suffering from Job, pushed through the Psalms in a week, devoured Proverbs, personally related to Jonah, admired Daniel, and forced myself to finish Hosea, working towards the closing Old Testament book of Micah.
A year and a half into the study, approaching December, I felt this incredible emotional build up as I got closer to the New Testament books. Month after month, book after book, each time I read a verse of Scripture that was prophesying the Christ’s appearing, my anticipation for Him grew! The entirety of the Old Testament groaned under the weight and the need. I remember thinking, when is Jesus going to show up and save these people? They were longing to see their promised Messiah! Reminds me of my favorite Christmas carol, “O Holy Night”, where the lyrics read “Long lay the world in sin and error pining, Till He appear’d…”.
The class didn’t resume until January. Knowing that two books of the Old Testament, several hundred years of time, and a trip to Bethlehem were all that stood between where I left off and the answer to it all, created the most amazing expectation of Christmas I had ever experienced!
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14 (NKJV, emphasis mine)
We have all read this verse many, many times, even studied it in depth, but the Lord brought it back to my attention to reveal His teaching moment to me. This isn’t the most typical go-to Christmas verse; however, when you consider its message, it may be the best! Beheld is an interesting word in Scripture. Translated into Greek it is theaomai, a verb. It means “to behold, look upon, view attentively, contemplate”. Sometimes we see something without really seeing the entirety of it. This verse is speaking to the reader about specifically seeing Jesus as the unveiling of the Word. We are to not only remember “the reason for this season”, but to see and behold His glory; to behold the miracle that was prophesied for thousands of years in His Word; to behold all that led up to His arrival, when He humbly came into this world fulfilling the ancient prophesies as our Messiah, Redeemer, and Savior.
I don’t know what this all means for you or your families. For me, it is a nudge from the Lord to not forget the deep, ancient, longsuffering, saving truth of it all; to not just celebrate Him this Christmas, but to behold Him, to behold His Glory. I drop to my knees in the presence of such glory.
“O Holy Night” has always been my favorite Christmas carol. It fits perfectly with what I have been feeling. Enjoy the lyrics; let them sink in. I hope you see something brand new in this old carol, just as I did.
O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born;
O night divine, O night, O night Divine.
Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wise men from the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friend.
He knows our need, our weaknesses no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King, Before him lowly bend!
Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise His name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
—John Sullivan Dwight, 1855