When I think of stories related to the birth and childhood of Jesus I think of the Shepherds, the wise men, Simeon and Anna. I find it delightful that we are given these pictures of common people like shepherds who were visited by angels, the magi from the East whom the Jews considered pagans--yet the Lord communicated with them by means of a star and Balaam’s “star” prophecy. Simeon and Anna lived in close communion with God--they also beheld and recognized God’s Son in human form. Yes, I find these stories delightful! That the great God of heaven would look favorably upon the commoner in Israel and the searching “pagans”. But why was He not communicating with the upper class, the popular, and the aristocracy in Israel?
Why was it that the Jewish people at large who longed for the Messiah did not recognize their time of “visitation”? Why weren’t the Jewish priests and leaders the first to recognize and sound the message to their nation the glad tidings? They were blinded by unbiblical expectations, their own selfishness, and their sins. Those who recognized the Messiah met the same conditions for recognizing the “Light of the world” in every generation. The conditions were expressed in Elizabeth's prophetic and poetic praise, “He has filled the hungry with good things, And the rich He has sent away empty.” Luke 1:53 NKJV. What kind of hunger? The same hunger Jesus promised to satisfy in His Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. Matthew 5:6 NKJV
Consider with me the parallels of this story with God’s last day church, Laodicea. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Revelation 3:20. We often use this verse in evangelism making calls to individuals but context is an appeal to the church! Jesus is again waiting for a reception from His people. As in the days of Christ’s birth, individuals respond to the knock but the church at large is “blind” to His coming and doesn’t realize that Jesus is “at the door”, this time in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. The church has responded to Him much the same way as when He came to this world the first time: “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.” John 1:11 NKJV. Compare that verse with this startling warning: “Unless we are daily advancing in the exemplification of the active Christian virtues, we shall not recognize the manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the latter rain. It may be falling on hearts all around us, but we shall not discern or receive it.”--Testimonies to Ministers p. 507
What are the conditions for seeing our Savior? “He has filled the hungry with good things, And the rich He has sent away empty.” Luke 1:53 NKJV. Notice the attitude of Laodicea: “You say that you are [spiritually] rich and that you need nothing, but you do not know that you are so troubled in mind and heart. You are poor and blind and without clothes [the garment of Christ’s righteousness]” Revelation 3:17 New Life Version. Here is at least one “active Christian virtue” that prepares the way for recognizing our Savior. “...be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time…” 1st Peter 5:5, 6 NKJV. Of course, the primary way we do this is through prayer. Spiritually hungry people pray! Just as when Jesus came the first time, largely unrecognized and unappreciated so it will be when He comes to us in the latter rain. Are you preparing to be ready for this like the shepherds, the wise men, Anna and Simeon? “Are we hoping to see the whole church revived? That time will never come. There are persons in the church who are not converted, and who will not unite in earnest, prevailing prayer. We must enter upon the work individually. We must pray more, and talk less.
We may be sure that when the Holy Spirit is poured out, those who did not receive and appreciate the early rain will not see or understand the value of the latter rain.”-- Last Day Events p. 195. Take heart my friend, humble yourself and pray and the words of Elizabeth will be fulfilled for you, “He has filled the hungry with good things…” and Christ’s own promise too “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.” Luke 1:53; Matthew 5:6
- Pastor Mike