Tidings of Joy (2) – Herman Hoeksema

MysteryofBethlehem-HHoeksemaToday we also continue the Christmas meditation we began to post on Sunday. It is taken from the collection of meditations written for the Christmas season by Rev.Herman Hoeksema, titled The Mystery of Bethlehem, which is still in print and may be purchased here. May this work too serve for our spiritual preparation for and proper celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Tidings of joy I bring you! But as we go to Bethlehem to see the cause of this joy, let us watch and pray, lest our flesh should tempt us to contradict the word of the angel!

For there is in Bethlehem in that night of all nights (for the flesh) no reason why we should rejoice. In fact, if only we are quiet and receptive, if only we do not talk at the manger of the Christ-child so that we may be able to hear the Word of God there, we will hear a humiliating language that can only bring us to our knees in dust and ashes…

Great joy, indeed… but only in the way of the broken heart! This is way of the joy of the Word of God in Bethlehem, the joy that has its cause in the birth of Jesus, God with us, Immanuel.

Jesus was born. Perhaps the evening before Joseph and Mary had arrived in the city of David after a long and wearisome journey. For they had come from Nazareth. (They were Nazarenes, and what good thing ever came thence?) Arriving too late to find lodging in the already overcrowded little town, and finding that even in the inn there was no room for them, they turned to one of the grottos on the outskirts of the city, where passing caravans would stable their animals, in order that they might have shelter against the chill of night at that late season. There, probably that very night, “the days were accomplished that she should be delivered,” the fulness of time had come, “and she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger”!

Great joy? Indeed, but not for the flesh!

What your eyes behold in Bethlehem’s stable is a scene of great misery! In one of the most forsaken spots, of an almost forgotten little town, a child is born under the most abject conditions! A pale mother, just delivered of a child; a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, with a manger for its cradle and a stable for its first home – these are the things you see! A picture of want and misery. If you do not watch and pray, you will feel urged to speak there in that stable, to express your heartfelt sympathy to that mother, and what is worse, you might feel an impulse to act immediately, to call for help, to remove this mother and child from these abject surroundings, and provide a home for them in the city. And thus you would destroy the Word of God that must needs reach your heart, if you would be partaker of the great joy of which the angel spoke!

Have you forgotten the word of the heavenly messenger: “and this shall be a sign unto you”? Yes indeed, here in the stable you see a sign! You shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger – that is the sign!

A sign is a Word of God! A sign too of the Word that is come to pass here in Bethlehem! It speaks clearly, as the Word of God always does. The message this God-ordained, divinely-willed and designed, visible token conveys is that there is no room for Him in all the world! Oh, make no mistake. The good people of Bethlehem must not be blamed. This stable and this manger are not of their design. They do not speak directly through this sign. You and I must be the last to condemn them. No, this is God’s sign. He willed it. He designed it. He considered it but proper, and the only proper thing, that His only begotten Son coming into the world should be born in a stable, should be wrapped in swaddling clothes of poverty, should have His bed in a manger! Therefore, this sign is a Word of God! And let us hear it: There is no room for the Son of God in all the world! The world, the flesh, men will not have Him! By nature, you and I hate this Babe!


Making a List, Checking it Twice: Favorite Books of 2013 – Ref21

Making a List, Checking it Twice – Reformation21.

TakingGodSeriously-PackerYesterday the people at Reformation21 published and posted their list of favorite books, mostly from 2013. From a variety of persons comes a diverse and interesting list of titles. Below is the brief introduction to the post; read the full list of favorites at the “Ref21” link above.

Lists such as these from fellow Christians (Reformed) helps us know what to read as well. It’s not too late to gather ideas for this year – and for 2014! I hope you are getting a list together of what you hope to read in the new year! You may be receiving some gift cards that will help you toward your book budget! 🙂

Here is a list of some notable and favourite books of 2013. We’re not so ambitious to announce a ‘book of the year’ winner. These are books thrown together by our editors and some of our staff writers and contributors. It’s a list that includes books we’ve either read, intend to read over the Christmas and Hogmanay ‘holidays’, or dream of the day that we might finally have the chance to read. They’re mostly brand new books and we’ve attempted to keep the parameters within the 2013 window, though there are some small infractions! You can take the list as a recommendation, a help in how to cash in on an Amazon gift card you might receive in your stocking, or simply  as a peek into what fascinates us here at Ref21. Merry Christmas and have a blessed New Years!

Published in: on December 24, 2013 at 5:50 AM  Leave a Comment