FFF 10:12 (Dec 1964)
Where the Angels Sang
One of the most picturesque places in all the world is the little town of Bethlehem nestling in the Judean hills. Today it is part of the Hashemite kingdom of the Jordan, and marked by tragedy both politically and socially. Thousands of refugees are crowded into their tents and hovels as they await the settlement of the old feud between the Jews and the Arabs. The language of the first century is still heard. “In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping and great mourning” (Matthew 2:18). When we think of Bethlehem, (meaning “The house of bread”), certain memories spring to life about a Son, a Saviour and a Sign, “The Babe of Bethlehem.”
In reading the Old Testament (Genesis 35) we are first introduced to Bethlehem in the days of Jacob. Though he lived some 1800 years before the coming of Christ, the hand of God was on him leading him right to the House of Bread, Ephrath. Coming along from Bethel a halt was made and, just on the outskirts of Bethlehem, Rachel, his beloved wife, gave birth to her last child. As she died, she cried out in pain “Benoni,” which means “Son of my sorrow.” Jacob called the boy, Benjamin, the “son of my right hand,” and built a pillar there which remains to this day. Often I have sat by the way into Bethlehem and thought about this scene. It speaks of the birth of another Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Surely He was the Man of Sorrows, but also the Son of God’s right hand.
“He came as a babe, in the manger was laid,
Christ Jesus the blest Son of God,
He came from on high, that here He might die,
To ransom us by His own blood.”
While we gaze with adoring wonder on the birth of the little baby in a manger, we must never forget that He was of noble descent. For He was one of the family of David and of Abraham. The Wise Men knelt and worshipped Him and the sky shone with a wonderful light from Heaven. The beautiful name, Jesus simply means “Jehovah the Saviour.”
In the Old Testament there are three books that contain the name of Jesus— Joshua, Isaiah and Hosea.
In all these books the Spirit of God has a special purpose in the meaning of the names. Joshua puts the emphasis on His Person, Isaiah on His work, and Hosea on His people. So when Matthew records, “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21), the Holy Spirit unites these three books in testimony to the Christ of God, Immanuel, “God with us.”
Joshua means Saviour, and so the name of Jesus is the same. Isaiah makes much of the work of the Redeemer and the meaning of His name is “Jehovah is salvation.” Thus, as Matthew says, our Lord came to save from sin. Finally, Hosea in another reference to the Saviour and in his book we find Jehovah’s great concern for His people. So the coming of Christ was to save His people from their sins. In one verse of Scripture the Holy Spirit gathers up the teaching of the three books in the Old Testament bearing the name of Jesus. It is no wonder we sing:
“Man of sorrows!” what a name For the Son of God who came, Ruined sinners to reclaim! Hallelujah! what a Saviour!
From the days of David, the man after God’s own heart, Bethlehem was like many other towns quietly hidden away for centuries. Then one day a mysterious Star appeared in the heavens over the place where Jesus was to be born. It led the way for the Wise Men to come to the Babe with their gifts of gold, frank-incense and myrrh. The message of the angel of the Lord was expressed in the word Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. The sign was a Baby and in this lies the mystery of the Incarnation. Truly it is both mysterious and wonderful — the Son of God, the great Creator, the Lord of Glory humbling Himself to become even for a short time, the Son of Man. No one at Rome, the Imperial capital, knew of His arrival, and the event was not announced in the high places of the earth.
“In his birth,
He would no glory borrow,
No majesty from earth.”
Yet He came, a Saviour long desired and long expected. And now as the Messiah of Promise, the Lord Jehovah, God Himself, we announce Him as Heaven’s great gift and earth’s greatest gain. At this Christmas season may the knowledge of His love fill our hearts with adoring worship.