When we celebrate Christmas we are remembering the birth of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It is a festive time and yet one that makes us long for the administration of the Prince of Peace, the care of an Everlasting Father, the victory of the Mighty God, and the wisdom of the Wonderful Counselor. We long for Him because of the turmoil in our lives and in the world around us. So during the season of Advent we reflect on the promises of God to send a Messiah King in the womb of a young virgin girl to save His people and we look with anticipation for the fulfillment of God’s promises to send that Messiah King again in glory. Ancient Kings often had some miraculous story of how they survived birth and infancy. Such stories somehow meant they were to be a shepherd of their people. None of these compares to the words of Isaiah. The prophet spoke of the coming Messiah King whose reign would be that of God with us, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, and as shepherd who gathers the lambs in His arms, carries them in His bosom, and gently leads those who are with young. The first part of Handel’s Messiah included these prophecies. But for many Americans the “Hallelujah Chorus” has also become part of the Christmas tradition even though it comes later in Handel’s Messiah. And rightly so. The “Hallelujah Chorus” brings this theme of the coming Messiah King to a climax. Charles Jennens chose lines from three verses in Revelation for the words of this chorus:
This theme of the coming Messiah King has not yet come to a climax in history but still lies ahead of you in the future.
[These verses from Revelation are set at the time of Christ’s return in glory.] You might have noticed that we heard the verses out of sequence, we heard two verses from Revelation 19 followed by one from Revelation 11. Much of Revelation is not in chronological order as to what will happen but instead consists of seven cycles. These three verses are from three separate cycles and in context of those cycles each one is set at the second coming. If you are interested in the details, read my commentary on Revelation on the internet. But my point is simply to say that these three verses from Revelation are set at the time of Christ’s return in glory. The “Hallelujah Chorus” wonderfully weaves these three verses together to speak of that day when Christ will come in final victory. On that day we will hear, “Hallelujah for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth” for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords will reign forever and ever. Indeed, the kingdom of the world will become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ and He shall reign forever and ever.
So you have not yet seen the climax of the Messiah King as God with us and for us. Jesus is God-with-us and for us already. Thus we live not in fear but with faith in Him. Jesus is already our king described by those four titles: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah announced that a child would be born unto us a son given unto us. Jesus is that child born unto us—He is that Son given unto us fallen human beings of every people, nation, land and language. Thus we tell our neighbors about Jesus as well as foreigners from countries many despise for good reasons. Jesus is our Messianic shepherd king who cares for us. He is the glory of YHWH revealed. Thus we herald to the world: “Behold your God!” Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords already. His kingdom is among us already. Thus we cry Hallelujah for the Lord God Omnipotent Reigneth. Jesus already reigns and will reign forever and ever. But we have not yet seen the moment when we will hear the seventh angel blow his trumpet and loud voices in heaven saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever.” Thus we eagerly wait while there are wars and rumors of wars in the news and turmoil in our personal lives. We eagerly wait while our brothers and sisters in Christ suffer at the hands of the powers of this world and while we too know pain and suffering, hardship and heartache. You know all too well how much what is true already is not yet here in fullness for you live by faith and not by sight, you know that terrorists from places like Syria seek to shake the world, you know illness and cancer, you know broken relationships and anxiety, you know depression and addiction, you know poverty and dementia and any number of other signs that the kingdom rule of God has not yet supplanted the kingdom of this present world-age. (So for now…)
You sing Hallelujah for the Messiah King, God-with-us and for us, was born.
His birth is significant like no other. No other king was ever born of a virgin so that He would not inherit the sin of Adam but would save us from our sins and from death itself as well. No other king has experienced the final resurrection from the dead so that He might sit on a throne never to be replaced. No other king is God-with-us and for us both in terms of how He rules like our Father in Heaven but also in terms of how He is God the Son in the flesh. No other king is the Good Shepherd who knows your name and calls it out and you follow with your lamb-like children in tow. So no other birth compares.
You have good reason to rejoice—to sing and shout Hallelujah, meaning praise Yah (the LORD). The Noel—the announcement of the birth of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords—is a song worth singing! Yes there is turmoil in our lives and in the world around us. Even the fear of terrorist attacks here in America is now the most important political issue in the polls. But the king with wisdom beyond that of Solomon, strength beyond that of Gideon and Samson, fatherly care beyond that of David, and whose administration will save, heal, protect, feed and lead His people—that king—has been born. Hallelujah! Amen!