Editor’s Comment: We are leading off our magazine this month with an article by the late Reverend Ansley Rash, one of many members of the cloth in the early to mid 1900’s who embraced and taught the Israel Truth in Britain. He was also a frequent speaker at British-Israel conferences and even served as a Commissioner with BIWF for some time. His articles were well read in the Federation’s popular magazine, “The National Message”.
Seven centuries before it took place, the prophet Isaiah drew attention to that amazing event that was to change the course of history, the coming of One Who was to be born a child and yet rule forever as a king. Twenty centuries have run their course, and yet still we marvel at the wonder of the Incarnation and the mystery of the Passion; we still have not fully grasped the significance of that remarkable blending of Humanity and Deity, God and Man.
Who was the Babe born long ago in the Manger at Bethlehem, what has His Advent meant to the world, what message of hope and consolation does it hold for the future of humanity. These are questions that still clamour for an answer, problems that demand a solution, and for this nuclear age of fear and uncertainty they are matters of vital importance.
The Union of God and Man
There was no doubt in the mind of the prophet as to the identity of this wondrous child. Listen to his inspired words, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isa. 7:14).
St. Matthew in his gospel informs us that the meaning of Immanuel is “God with us” (Matt. 1: 23). This then was to be no ordinary birth. Yet once again the prophet speaks in language that cannot be misunderstood, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6).
Here indeed is Very God of Very God, Begotten not made. Deity identifying itself with humanity that it might lift weak, sinful man and eventually unite him with his Creator. Bethlehem did not witness the birth of another good man, another great teacher; but in the royal city of David on the first Christmas day, God tabernacled with men. The full and glorious message of the Incarnation is conveyed to us by St. Paul in those truly thrilling phrases of his letter to the Christian church at Philippi, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:5-8).
Let us then at this special season ponder these things and rejoice that the Creator of the world became its Saviour; and that He who formed Israel for Himself, became our Redeemer. How pregnant with meaning are the words of Simeon when read in this context, “A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel” (Luke 2:32).
The Pattern of Chivalry
The Italian artists of the Renaissance have depicted the Christ as a weak, effeminate, emaciated person, and have thus succeeded in obscuring His message and mission in the eyes of the world. They have shadowed the most radiant personality of history, and have rendered singularly unattractive the most wonderful life that has ever been portrayed upon the world’s canvas. An intelligent study of the Four Gospels reveals a Christ Who was the perfection of manhood, physically, mentally and spiritually. A Christ Whose gentleness could attract little children, whose anger could send the money-changers scurrying from the Temple, and whose scathing denunciation of the tyranny and oppression of His day could cause the civil and ecclesiastical rulers alike to quiver with suppressed fury. A Christ Who shared the happiness of His friends at a marriage in Cana of Galilee, and wept with them at the grave of Lazarus. Such was the Holy One Who stepped into our world as a Babe at Bethlehem, and returned from Mount Olivet to the Eternal Throne via the Cross on the Hill of Calvary.
To the world He revealed the only way of life, for practical Christianity is the one solution to humanity’s problems, the one answer to its questions. Unfortunately, at the close of this year, mankind still refuses to acknowledge His sovereignty and learn His golden rule of love, and freedom from fear has not yet been transformed from a dream into a reality. The Christ-Child Who came to save His people from their sins still waits for their acceptance of His priceless gift.
A King Shall Reign in Righteousness
What of the future? Bethlehem was the beginning, not the end of a Divine plan and purpose which shall attain its glorious consummation not so very far hence. Listen once more to the words of the prophet Isaiah as he announces the birth of Immanuel, “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isa. 9:7).
Thus the same vision that embraced the first Advent, will also embrace the Second Advent; the prophet who saw the Saviour, saw also the Sovereign and traced the path of Divine progression from the Manger to the Throne. The plan that commenced with the Stable at Bethlehem is shortly to end with the Throne of world dominion
The world is to rest from its warfare, and witness the end of violence, injustice and oppression, not because the nations have entered into covenants, or have affixed their signatures to a United Nations charter. Freedom and security will become at last glorious realities because the Prince of Peace is to soon ascend the Throne of His father David, the Throne of the Lord over Israel; and will wield the Sceptre of world sovereignty, and rule over the House of Jacob-forever.
The signs of the times warn us that the hour approaches rapidly when the King shall return to claim the kingdom. Then shall the darkness be forever dispelled and Paradise Lost shall become Paradise Regained.
So, as we kneel this Christmastide before the Manger of the Christ-Child, let us give thanks for the wondrous past, remembering the prophet’s inspired utterance, and linking that past with the yet more glorious future, for “Unto Us a Child is Born . . . and . . . The Government Shall Be Upon His Shoulder.”