On a recent trip to Augusta, GA, I encountered this beautiful clock that stood in the middle of the very small airport. I was waiting to board my plane home and as I looked at this clock, I began to think about how much of the Bible talked or referenced “time.” Since it is Christmas “time”, and I am reading through the story of Jesus’ birth I decided to take note of the use of the word. The account of the birth of Jesus begins for us in Luke 1 and what word begins the narrative? “Time.” “In the time of Herod king of Judea . . .” (This is a fact recorded in human history). In Luke 2:1-3 we are told that a decree went out by Caesar Augustus that a census be taken of the entire Roman world and at that time Quirinius was governor of Syria. This information, recorded in time, establishes Jesus’ birth as another firm date in human history. The word “time” is used again in verse 10, “And when the time for the burning of incense came . . .” In verse 20 it pops up again, the angel, Gabriel says to Zechariah that he is one who stands in the presence of God and that he had been sent to speak to him and to tell him the good news “which will come true at their proper time.“
As you read through the narrative, you begin to get a sense that something big is about to happen, and it is. At the appointed time, God began, once again to create something new, the birth of redemption. In Genesis 3:15 God gives Eve, after she had sinned, the hope of an offspring who will come and defeat the serpent (Satan) who deceived her and led her and Adam into sin. Eve thought this child would be born soon, but everything is on God’s timetable. This offspring that God is talking about is Jesus. His genealogy is listed in Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-37 and traces him back to Adam (through Joseph’s line and Mary’s line). The apostle Paul tells us in Galatians 4:4 “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, under the law, to redeem those under the law (us), that we might receive the full rights of sons.” At the appointed time, God sent out a birth announcement, letting people know that the long-awaited Messiah, our Redeemer, had come and what an announcement it was. As the shepherds tell us, there was a multitude of angels singing his arrival and then there was this great big star in the sky that stayed over where this newborn lay. Do you know how many a multitude is? It is thousands! This was God’s “Noel”; His announcement of the birth of his son. We typically just send out cards to loved ones announcing the birth of a baby. (I am giggling at the comparison :-D). The word “Noel” is French, but it is derived from the Latin “natalis” meaning “birth.” It can also mean “Christmas”, and why do we have “Christmas?” Because there was a birth.
The people of Jesus’ time had been waiting and praying for the arrival of the Messiah (that offspring of Adam & Eve’s) for a very long time. Waiting for a specific time to happen can get tiring because we are living in a time of “I want it now.” Jesus, however, tells us that “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His Own authority.” (Acts 1:7). God the Father sets the timetable for all events whether they are worldwide, national, or personal. As Christmas approaches, take your cues from the children who are eagerly and excitedly awaiting for that wonderful and magical day of Christmas to get here. We should be getting excited about that “time” of celebration, not because of any gifts that lay under the tree, but because of the gift that had laid beneath a star so long ago in a small town called “Bethlehem.” Take the time to be awed by God’s “Noel!” (Angel photo by Ernie’s Musings).
“Noel, Noel, come and see what God has done! Noel, Noel, the story of amazing love; the light of the world given for us – Noel.” (song by Chris Tomlin).