He Has Visited His People
Thursday, December 21 2017
There is so much of it going on during the Christmas season.
Visits here, visits there – some planned, some unexpected – some welcomed, some not so much so – some significant and life-changing, others simply not.
All of this visiting has brought these words from the Christmas story much to my mind and my heart these days:
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people
and has raised up a horn of salvation for us...
because of the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
to give light to those who sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
(Luke 1:68-69, 78-79)
This is a beautiful passage of Scripture taken from a prophecy that Zechariah, a temple priest and John the Baptist's father, spoke after the birth of his son.
Its fulfillment happened around 2000+ years ago in Bethlehem of Judea, when the God of Israel, after 400 years of absolute silence, "visited" His people in the birth of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ.
It was a quiet entry, humanly speaking. Hardly anyone even knew that it had happened. Two lowly parents from Nazareth, a few simple shepherds keeping watch over their flock of sheep by night, some magi from a country in the far East – they knew. They knew that God had "visited" His people in a very special way. And a host of angelical beings who descended from heaven to praise and glorify God, they also knew – although they were no doubt not that quiet.
But other than that, God's visitation on earth – in the babe called Emmanuel in a stable in the town of Bethlehem – was a hushed affair.
And sometimes, God's visitations are like that: quiet, hushed, almost unnoticed. A gentle knock on the door – a waiting for the door to be opened from the inside – a calm and unpretentious, although always life-changing, entry into our lives and into our hearts.
Other times though, God's visitations erupt into our lives like an exploding bomb.
Not many years after Jesus Christ had died, risen again and then ascended to heaven, a man named Saul – a fervent Jewish persecutor of the new Christian faith – was on his way to Damascus to bind followers of the Way and to bring them to Jerusalem, no doubt to see them murdered there. But suddenly, oh-so-unexpectedly, he was "visited" by God: he saw a bright light from heaven shining around him – as he fell to the ground, he heard a heavenly voice asking him a question, making a statement, giving him instructions – and then, he was blinded for three days. There on the Damascus road, completely without warning, like a bomb exploding into his well-defined life, Saul was changed forever because of that visitation from God.
When God does visit – as He has so deeply revealed to me these days, always "in the fullness of time" (Galatians 4:4) – His visits are for a purpose, a significant purpose: to redeem, to save, to give light, to give life, to give peace.
When God visited His people in the baby Jesus born 2 millenia ago...
- He did so in order to redeem us, to ransom us, to purchase us, to buy us back from Satan - because, although we were originally God's, Satan had snatched us away, falsely claiming that we were eternally his - and so God "visited" His people in Jesus, so that, through Jesus, we could be rightfully and forever His once again
- He did so in order to be our "horn of salvation", our powerful Saviour, our mighty Deliverer from Satan's decrees of ownership and death over us
- He did so in order to "give light to those who sit in darkness"
- He did so in order to give life "to those who sit in the shadow of death"
- He did so in order to "guide our feet into the way of peace"
That is what I need. That is what I, and so many people that I am praying for, oh-so-desperately need: a visitation from God.
A visitation that will redeem us from our sins and from our self-absorbed selves.
A visitation that will powerfully save us from the difficult and overwhelming circumstances we often find ourselves in.
A visitation that will bring light into the darkness of our life-situations and of our cold hearts.
A visitation that will bring life where we find ourselves sitting in the sad and seemingly-hopeless shadows of death.
A visitation that will guide our weary and wandering feet into the way of peace.
The amazing thing about such a visitation from God, is that it does not depend on us – it cannot depend on us. If it did, it would never happen. His visitations, like the sunrise that visits us from on high, are simply and only "because of the tender mercy of our God".
Isn't that a beautiful expression: "Because of the tender mercy of our God"? It is because of His deep loving-kindness and His caring and compassionate heart towards us, that He visits us from on high. Not because we deserve it – not because we have earned it. Simply and only because God, our God, is a tender and merciful God.
So, dear friend: as you prepare for your many or few Christmas visits this season – more than anything, ask and prepare for a heavenly "visit" of redemption and salvation, of light and life and peace from above. In the fullness of time, and because of His tender mercy, God will surely come to your life and to your heart – He will visit exactly when and exactly how you need and long for Him to do so!
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- 1 John 3:16
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- Martin Luther: Here He Stood (1483-1546)
- Katharina von Bora: The Runaway Nun (1499-1552)
- Johannes Bugenhagen: The Administrative Pastor (1485-1558)
- Zacharius Ursinus: The Happy Professor (1534-1583)
- Theodore Beza: The First Calvinist (1519-1605)
- Lady Jane Grey: The Teenage Martyr (c.1537-1554)
- Pierre Viret: The Smile of the Reformation (1511-1571)
- Robert Estienne: The Ink (1503-1559)
- John Calvin: The Genius of Geneva (1509-1564)