Luke 2:14 The Last Christmas Present I don’t know how you do Christmas in your house but since we have never participated in some of the Christmas traditions, we wrap all of the gifts and give them out some time on Christmas day—one at a time. We all watch as the one who has received the last gift unwraps his or her present and then another is passed and so forth. I have never been the passer-outer but I know that usually the biggest gifts, which are pushed furthest under the tree, are opened last. So most often, the biggest gifts are opened last. One of the biggest gifts that God gave to mankind has not been opened yet. Tonight, let’s consider what will be our last Christmas present. I. A gift was promised. A. I preached this morning on our first presents although I did not mention them as such. 1. Our first present was the Savior. 2. At the same time, we also received the Lord. 3. By receiving these two, we have many other presents: a. Forgiveness of sins b. Fellowship with God c. Home in heave. d. The Holy Ghost e. The Living Word of God f. And much more. B. But one gift we have not received: 1. What is it? "Peace on earth." 2. Interestingly, this was one of the first mentioned. II. But what is the present that we have not received? A. That one we have not received yet. 1. Jesus’ conception did not bring peace on earth. a. Mary was a woman "espoused to a man." \\#Luke 1:27\\ (1) That means that these two had already been pledged to one another and so they were considered in part, husband and wife. (2) The penalty for adultery was death \\#Deut 22:22\\. (3) Her situation could not have left her in a state of peace. b. Mary would travel to spend three months with her cousin, Elizabeth, no doubt in turmoil about what was and would happen to her. c. When she returned to Nazareth, Joseph was looking for a way to get out of his wedding with her without having to have her stoned. d. Even after the angel appeared to Joseph and they married but stayed celibate, they must have told the people that the Child was not Joseph’s or else the people would have assumed it was. Yet, it was common knowledge that Mary and Joseph were not married when Jesus was conceived. John 8:48 Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? e. I would say that those two knew well what it was to be in turmoil not only for the next 9 months but probably long after. 2. Jesus’ birth did not bring peace on earth. In fact, the opposite was true. a. Soon after Jesus’ birth, the wise men brought word to King Herod. Matt 2:1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. 3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. b. King Herod the Great was very jealous. (1) He had a wife killed years before the birth of Jesus. (2) Before Herod died, he had three of sons killed and one have killed his brother but he died before Herod could do it. http://www.notablebiographies.com/He-Ho/Herod-the-Great.html c. Once Herod learned of a potential Jewish rival to His throne, he was troubled and so was Jerusalem! (1) They feared what Herod might do! (2) There was no peace in that city and probably very little in the whole of the kingdom. d. We remember the plot Herod conceived to have the wise men return with the location of the baby King, but they did not. e. And so… Matt 2:16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, 18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. f. No. Jesus’ birth produced no peace on earth. 3. Jesus’ life did not bring peace on earth. a. One would think that His life should have. b. Jesus was a Preacher, Teacher, and Healer. c. He never attempted to cause any kind of rebellion. d. He encouraged the people to obey Rome and even the Jewish religious leaders. e. In fact, He commanded the people to be even better at obeying the teachings of the religious leaders than the religious leaders! Matt 23:3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. f. Even so, Jesus’ life ended with a large violent event, Jesus’ crucifixion! 4. Jesus’ resurrection and ascension did not bring peace on earth. a. The Bible and history details those terrible days. b. The world already lacked peace and walked in turmoil but things soon heated up. (1) It started with the Christians being persecuted by the Jews. (2) Paul, then known as Saul of Tarsus, was a persecutor, but there were many others. c. As the gospel spread, the persecution changed. d. Eventually it was not the Jews but Rome which persecuted and killed the Christians. 5. On into the church age, things were never any better. a. Around 200 AD, the Roman emperior supposedly turned to Christ, eventually creating a government/state with the Roman Catholic Church. b. Within a few hundred more years (500 AD), the world was cast into the Dark Ages, a time when religiously, politically, and economically the world languished in oppression, poverty, and cruelty. c. There was no peace here! 6. The church age has not brought peace on earth. a. Some of us have lived during the last 100 years, a time period with the… (1) greatest level of freedoms, (2) the highest levels of education and income, (3) the longest life spans, (4) and the greatest access and acceptance to the gospel. b. But during that time—even in this country—we have lived through two world wars, numerous smaller wars, and an almost uncountable total of military conflicts. c. So much so that some are starting to think we have seen the best this world can be and have peaked, starting to go back toward a less favorable and a less peaceful time. d. Last week in a Berlin Christmas market, a pair of terrorists drove a truck into a crowd killing at least 9 people. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/19/berlin-truck- crashes-into-christmas-market (1) As a result of that attack, I saw picture of armed police officers in New York city in what looked like army gear carrying automatic rifles. They were standing guard at strategic places to protect the public from a similar attack in the US. (2) I remember my first trip out of this country in 2008. Arriving at Israel and as we walked to our bus, seeing my first fully armed soldier stationed to protect travelers from terrorists. (3) I thought of the line from the Wizard of Oz, "Todo, we aren’t in Kansas anymore." (4) But now, terrorism is common place in the US. (5) Not only do we have terrorist cells who have been imported from other countries but we have home grown terrorists so that there is no way to weed them out. e. This is definitely not a time of peace on earth. 7. What about after the rapture? a. You probably know the answer to that one as well! b. No, no, no, NO! c. That time is called "the time of Jacob’s trouble" \\#Jer 30:7\\. Matthew 24:21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. B. By my divisions, that is seven time periods covering from the Jesus’ conception into our future and none of those time periods will have the peace on earth that God wished upon mankind. When will that gift be ours? 1. And when the rapture does happen, most all of the promises Christ has made to us will be completed! 2. We will have received our presents! 3. When and how will peace ever be ours? III. Peace on earth will not come until Jesus returns to establish His kingdom. A. Even so, there will be no peace immediately after Jesus returns. 2Thess 1:7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. 1. \\#Daniel 12:11-12\\ make mentioned of two different time periods that start counting from the Abomination of Desolations. 2. The details are sketchy but it appears that something will happen for 75 days after the 7 year tribulation begins. 3. Some believe that those 75 days will be used by Christ to destroy the wicked, judge the nations, cleanse the temple, and establish His reign. B. But when the judgment of the wicked is complete, this world will enjoy its last Christmas present in the extreme. 1. Animals and humans will live together in perfect harmony. Isa 11:6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. 7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. 9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. 2. There will be no war. Is 2:4 And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. 3. Life will be extended and death will be delayed. Isa 65:20 There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed. 4. But to accomplish this peace, Christ will have to rule sternly over the people. Re 19:15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. C. I believe you and I will be there. The time is not primarily for us but God may let us help. Rev 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. Why was this promise made at the beginning of Jesus' earthly ministry but left unfilled for so long? It may be that everyone who has ever trusted in Jesus since His death, burial, and resurrection will be alive to see its fulfillment!
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