THE ADVENT OF JESUS CHRIST
THE ADVENT OF JESUS CHRIST
Sunday, December 4, 2022, the Year of Our Lord
Pastor Carolyn Sissom
Once again, the time of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ is upon us. Advent is a Christian season of preparation for the Nativity of Christ at Christmas. The name was adopted from Latin “adventus.” In the New Testament this is the term used for the Second Coming of Christ. Our celebration of Christmas anticipates the “coming of Christ” from three different perspectives: the physical nativity in Bethlehem; the reception of Christ in the heart of the believer; and His Second Coming.
Without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness. God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory (1 Ti. 3:16 K.J.V.). For in Him the whole fullness of Deity (the Godhead) continues to dwell in bodily form---giving complete expression of the divine nature (Col. 2:9 Amplified).
Luke 2:1-7: It came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed…All went to be taxed, every one into his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David;) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. So, it was while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. She brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
The event for which Israel had waited through the centuries came at a time when as a nation they lay broken and crushed beneath the oppressor’s heel. The Devourer had despoiled the nations. The Exactor was now claiming his due. The prince of this world through Rome, had levied a cruel tax upon the chosen people of God. The kingdom of David, of which such glorious prophecies had been spoken, lay in the dust. Jerusalem itself, crown city of God, was defiled by the horsemen and chariots of a heathen ruler!
The history of Christianity as well as those chosen by God in the Old Testament for Kingdom greatness endured the greatest opposition, hardships and persecutions. Among the favored, surely none were so greatly honored as the two who journeyed from Nazareth to Bethlehem in obedience to the summons from Rome.
Behold Mary, the virgin of whom the prophets foretold---of David’s royal line, the favored daughter! All generations shall call her blessed! And Joseph, her God-given spouse and protector---son of the house of David. How strange to find these two among the travelers who were making their way over the dusty roads!
Scripture has nothing more to say about the taxation of Joseph and Mary, but it does record a great deal about the hour of high tribute for which Mary had waited. It is a story of wonder repeated through eternity when heaven bowed down and offered its shining glory to the little King. There was His star, transplendent among all the stars of the heavens, radiating its full praise! There were the angels, choiring through the skies their “Gloria in Excelsis Deo!” and bending to bless the earth with peace because He had descended to dwell with men! There were the shepherds who had seen His star and heard the angelic song, bringing the lowly adoration of mortals! Joseph and Mary were lost in wonder as they offered their own rich tribute of love and gratitude and worship unto the little Son of Heaven who lay at Mary’s breast. Later when the wise men from the East came with costly gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, to worship the Babe, the joy of Joseph and Mary was complete. They had gone up to Bethlehem to enroll and pay taxes unto Caesar. They remained to fulfill the Word of God, and to pay their highest tribute to the King of Kings.
Luke 2:21-24: When eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus, which so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb…according to the law of Moses…they brought him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, and to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.
Throughout the Old Testament, Israel of old was instructed to pay “tribute” to the LORD. “Every male that opened the womb shall be called holy to the LORD.”
Centuries have passed into eternity since that wonderful night of our Savior’s birth. Men are still paying taxes and tribute. Thrones and kingdoms have been overthrown---new nations have been born; but, in spite of all our talk of democracy and liberty, we find ourselves living in a time of ever-increasing taxation, and conspired inflation. Like a tide, it rises higher and higher threatening the security of every nation. It is quite apparent that the “prince of this world” has sent out another decree that all the world should be taxed! All this is but an outward sign of the spiritual tax which Satan is attempting to exact from the power of darkness.
The oppression of sexual molestation of children, abortion, transgender, mind-control in schools and government leaders as well as churches who have come into agreement with this evil is equally wicked to the massacre of live infants by Herod. The Senators who voted for the Marriage-Sex law guaranteeing same-sex marriage will come under the same judgment as the House of Herod. As in the days when Christ was born, so this mutilation and massacre of children is a sign of Christ’s Second Coming.
The cries of the persecuted church in at least 50-nations around the world are being heard by Heaven. Persecution, oppression, infirmities, distresses, poverty and diabolical machinations of Satan cruelly afflict the righteous in these nations. Through their pain, suffering and imprisonment, the underground church is breaking through in China, Iran and other nations.
I know that my Redeemer lives and He shall stand at last on the earth (Job. 19:25). When he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold. (Job. 23:10). As gold---pure gold, refined in the fire, heated seven-fold!
The Word of God reveals clearly that in the latter days, the sufferings of the Godly shall increase. However, the light of the Godly shall become brighter and brighter. The Lord shall be to you an everlasting light, and your God your glory (Isa. 60:19).
The Apostle Peter speaking expressly to those living at the end of the age, warns them to arm themselves to suffer. He reveals that it shall be a time of fiery trial---a time of heavy taxation! It will also be a time of the incorruptible inheritance of grace.
1 Peter 1:4-5: To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Salvation will be brought into outward manifestation, Wherefore, greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations; that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1: 5-7).
Over and over again, he tells us to turn our tribulations into times of tribute---to praise and glorify God in the midst of the fires! If this tribute of praise is not given, we shall most assuredly pay taxes to our Adversary. Doubts and fears, signs and tears, complaining’s, murmurings, fault-findings, self-pity, jealousies---all these, and a variety of other negative thoughts, words and feelings make up a rich tax for the coffers of Satan.
There is a faithful remnant who has awakened to the meaning of this latter-day, in whose hearts burns the hope of our Lord’s glorious appearance and manifestation, culminating in His second advent. We fully realize we have been translated out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light, and we owe no further tax to the prince of the world. The coin of the hearts of this faithful remnant has been minted out of faith’s pure gold, tried in the fire. It bears the image and superscription of the King of Kings. The remnant offers it freely unto Him with songs of praise, shouts of victory, and rejoice with great joy.
Like Zacharias, after weeks of silence and waiting their mouths are opened again to prophesy when they behold “signs” and “forerunners” of His appearing. They glory in the light of the Dayspring from on high and rejoice in His redemption.
There are those like the beloved Elizabeth, who have known long years of barrenness while others were flourishing and fruitful. Reproach and disappointment have been their lot, notwithstanding their prayers and devotion. Then, unexpectedly comes a heavenly visitation! “Sing, O barren, thou that did not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud. (Isa. 54:1).
Faithful hearts like Anna have been daily performing their vows of prayer. How blessed are these “widows” of the Lord, who know full well that soon their eyes shall behold their God in the flesh! They, too, are voicing their praise.
And the Simeons, the sons of Jacob, who have ears to hear the Word from above, are watching with faith and worship. They are “just men and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Ghost is upon them” (Luke 2:25). They are fully assured they shall see His Great Salvation
Likewise, from among the sons of men, the Holy Spirit has sought out those whose hearts are like Joseph’s. Men of fervent and tender spirit, devoted unto the will of God. They have followed His call, even though it led them, “without the camp,” bearing his reproach and the misunderstanding of their brethren. These have paid a heavy tax of suffering! But they are reckoning it joy as they make their way toward the shining hour of His latter-day manifestation in His many-membered Body.
What of the Mary’s? Giving all honor unto the little Maid of Nazareth, whom God has uniquely favored among women of all generations. “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to Thy word.” Upon these is levied a cruel tax of shame, reproach, contradiction and anguish. Hey regard not the price of their submission unto God. They are lost in the wonder of His indwelling presence and in the living hope of His approaching manifestation among men.
As they journey, their hearts are lifted in adoration, and their voices soar above earth’s din in an exultant Magnificat! They have become God’s living, embodied Praise on earth.
Luke 1:45: Blessed is she that believed; for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the LORD.
Carolyn Sissom, Pastor
Eastgate Ministries Church
Scripture from K.J.V. and Amplified (as indicated). I entered into the labors of Frances Metcalfe, Taxes or Tribute, Ladies of Gold, Volume 3. Comments and conclusions are my own and not meant to reflect the views of those who I entered into their labors.