The point this evening is not to load your Christmas down with any exegetical postmill work, which has been done elsewhere. This is just intended as a simple word of Christmas encouragement—I do not seek to persuade you in these few minutes, but rather to embolden you.
It may well be that you even call yourself postmill and are happy to say that it is your doctrinal stance. You certainly live in a community that is characterized by postmill teaching and expectations. Well and good, but it may still be possible that this goon show of a century has gotten you down a time or two.
Your eschatology may say that the name of the Lord will be great among the Gentiles, from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same (Mal. 1:11). Your doctrinal commitments may well affirm that the earth is going to be filled up with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Hab. 2:14). The books on your shelf may well argue that the root of Jesse will be raised up as a standard, and all the Gentiles shall seek Him (Is. 11:10). Yes, certainly.
But the last time you checked, dudes could marry dudes, teens were being legally mutilated in the name of pronoun madness, and half the population believes that if we raise our taxes and give more power to the EPA, the government promises to fix the weather.
It is easy, in other words, to come to feel like a thick fog can somehow erase the sun, moon and stars. This is a possible discouragement even in our postmill circles. And so this message of Christmas grace is that our sovereign God has stooped down to us in order to remind us how transient evil is, and how permanent His goodness is. Christmas is a stiff breeze that demonstrates that a fog is a lot easier to scrub than the sun, moon and stars are.
But when you look for God to move, remember that He doesn’t do things the way we would have predicted. Take, for example, how He established the first beachhead of His everlasting kingdom in an animal’s food trough. Who among us would have called that move beforehand?
“Of the increase of his government there will be no end.” But we should know by now that we do not define increase the same way that He does. John the Baptist said that he was going to decrease, while the Lord was going to increase. But then what did that increase look like? It looked like agony in the Garden, and a flogging, and spittle in the face, and a crown of thorns. He will increase, but you must read all the way through to the end.
After God had spoken all His raw materials into existence, speaking to a darkness that was nothing at all, that created matter was still shrouded in darkness. And so at that point, what was the first thing God ever said in this world? “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light” (Genesis 1:3). He simply said light, and there it was. And so when the earth was an inchoate and shapeless mass of dark matter, when darkness was over the face of the deep (Gen. 1:2), all He did was simply speak.
This created darkness was His raw material, and it provided the apostle Paul with a marvelous illustration for God’s power over a different sort of darkness—the darkness of our rebellious iniquity.
“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”
2 Corinthians 4:6–7 (KJV)
The created darkness of the shapeless void and the rebellious darkness of mankind’s sin and rebellion have this one thing in common. Neither one can resist the voice of God’s authority when that authority says anything like, “Let there be light.”
Tiglath-pileser, Caesar Augustus, Herod, Pilate, Sanballat, Shalmaneser, Pharaoh, Bismarck, Napoleon, Attila the Hun, Woodrow Wilson, Genghis Khan, what are they? They are all of them principalities and powers who breath through the nose. Let there be light.
Pornography, propaganda, pandemics, police states, what are they? Let there be light.
Darwinism, socialism, feminism, egalitarianism, fascism, environmentalism, mysticism, what are they? Let there be light.
The God who spoke the cosmos out of nothing is certainly capable of speaking a new cosmos out of the old one. He can make sons of Abraham out of rocks, remember.
So when you look around at all the black rock of man’s iniquitous folly, you should certainly look straight at it without flinching. You should confess that it is in fact an enormous amount of iniquitous folly, all of it dark, bent, and twisted rock. But never forget that you are also looking at God’s own quarry, from which He is going to speak into existence a cathedral of light, built entirely out of living stones, and the pavers all made from transparent gold.
So the Christmas message is much more than the fact that God conquers and overcomes evil. He does do that, but there is a greater mystery involved. The Christmas message is that God is in the process of creating something marvelous, using evil as His raw material. All the laws, and conspiracies, and plans, and movements, and resolutions, and plots . . . all the things that have us so worried . . . are nothing but scraps on His workshop floor.
“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
Luke 12:32 (KJV)
And what a glorious kingdom that will be. That kingdom of light, inhabited by children of light (Eph. 5:8) . . . where did it start? That kingdom of light began in those pitch-black nights that enveloped Bethlehem, and the shepherds, and the sheep, and the wise men.
It was truly dark. But the star wasn’t.