The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
What’s your favorite part of the Christmas story? Is it Mary’s response to a visiting angel? Or perhaps the terrified shepherds tending their flock who found themselves surrounded by the glory of the Lord? I love the image of Magi from the east bowing and presenting costly gifts to a toddler King. If you let them, the details surrounding the birth of Jesus inspire awe and wonder.
I’d like to spend some time with you today treasuring one of those details found in our opening Scripture, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” Have you considered the significance of that phrase?
Perhaps you were not aware that the birth of God’s Son—the Word—came on the heels of four hundred years of silence from God.
That may seem of little consequence to you. Maybe you’ve lived your whole life expecting God’s silence because that’s all you’ve known. But the overwhelming truth revealed in Scripture is that God speaks to His created. He talked with Adam and Eve in the garden after He gave them life, and our first glimpse of Him after they sinned reveals a striking picture of God’s heart.
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” Genesis 3:8-9
Do you see it, dear one? Even after they sinned, God came seeking them. He desires fellowship with us and wants us close. He calls to us, and He waits for us to respond. When we listen, His words provide life and quiet the soul. They become ‘”a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” Psalm 119:105.
So why would a God of fellowship who distinguishes Himself by speaking to His people remain silent for four hundred years?
It shouldn’t have been a surprise to them. He told them it was coming.
“The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “when I will send a famine through the land—not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. Men will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it. Amos 8:11-12
God declared in advance that He would send a famine like no other—a famine of hearing His words. Why would He withhold that treasured gift from His holy people?
Well, usually our loving Father gives His children what they need. But sometimes, when they insist upon it, He gives them what they want.
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it. But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices.” Psalm 81:10-12
The people of God took for granted the gift they had been given. God spoke, but they refused to listen. He desired to fill their mouths, but they decided they didn’t need Him to. They thought they could do it better. So,
. . . they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and stopped up their ears. They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen . . . Zechariah 7:11-12
So God stopped speaking. For four hundred long, silent years. And the people eventually realized what they had given up by chasing after their own desires. They longed to hear from God again, staggering from sea to sea, wandering in search of the word of the Lord, but they could not find it (Amos 8:12). They became desperate for it, to no avail. Until . . . once again, God proved His faithfulness.
But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman . . . Galatians 4:4
The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us (John 1:14). The Word of the Lord returned, this time clothed in human flesh, an expression of God they could see and hear and touch. God’s voice entered the realm of earth again, carried on the cries of His infant Son.
Jesus grew, and God continued to speak through Him. He revealed God’s character and heart, teaching truth to all who would listen. The Word called us back into fellowship with His Father, extending the invitation, “Follow me.”
Then He poured out His life on a cross so we could maintain that fellowship with God forever. And He left us the gift of His Spirit so we can continue hear and discern the truth of God.
The Word still speaks, dear one. Like Israel centuries ago, you and I must choose whether we will listen.