Behind the Scenes of Silent Night, Part 1

Title: Behind the Scenes of Silent Night, Part 1

Text: Matthew 1,2 and Revelations 12

Time: December 14th, 2003

The movie video we’ve just seen is a combination of Sinead O’Connor and Gladiator. Why? Because they contrast each other so much. In one part Silent Night is being sung, in another scene a battle is taking place, contrast. In one part it’s “Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright,” in another scene it’s loud, conflict, war, battle — the total opposite of the silent night. And the reason I play those two scenes next to each other is to illustrate how it was that first Christmas, the one way back two thousand years ago that started the whole thing we call Christmas today. Our society has forgotten what the meaning of Christmas is today as it emphasizes everything but the very purpose of the season. We hear bits and pieces, here a little, there a little, of the true meaning of Christmas, but for the most part Jesus is lost in a sea of other things. For example, at the Jamestown Christmas parade. People kept coming up to me and saying, “Your float was the only Nativity scene in the whole Christmas parade.” Amazing. In a Christmas parade with over 100 entries, you would think that maybe there would be at least 5, maybe 10 nativity scenes, after all it is Christmas, it is about the baby Jesus born in Bethlehem. Instead, there were many floats that I really couldn’t catch the link between a Christmas parade and its theme. In fact, there were very few spiritual or religious floats at all. It was mostly small companies advertising there business with no real Christmas theme. If you missed the parade, we had a float, a flat bed wagon from a farm, with a nativity scene. Joseph and Mary and Jesus figures about 4 foot high, with lots of bails of hay around, the Crosspoint Church banner, and music playing. It was good. It was a good witness by our church of the spiritual meaning of Christmas, and it kept the Christmas parade focused on Christ. But the nativity scene that we are all familiar with, Mary, Jesus, Joseph, the 3 wise men, the shepherds, the animals, the donkey, the sheep, the cattle, horses, in the little stable, with straw, on a silent night, that is how it looked on earth that night. But how it looked in the spiritual world, in the world of angels, demons, departed souls, and God Himself, it looked a lot different. It was not a silent and quiet night at all. There was a battle going on over the life of baby Jesus. What I’d like to talk about this morning is the two worlds that exist and how we must be aware that there are two worlds – the material and the spiritual. This Christmas season, I’d like us to remember that there are two parallel dimensions, the physical dimension and the spiritual dimension. And that there is a lot going on that we see little of, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. On the contrary, there are battles being fought over our souls that would surprise us. We are not alone and defenseless; angels and God Himself are working on our behalf. I’d like to point out three things today that will help us understand reality this Christmas 2003. But first let’s pray and ask God to teach us. Let me read a few passages, from Matthew 1, 2 and then from Revelations 12. Let me point out three things.

First, there are parallel worlds — the physical and the spiritual. We all know about the material world because that’s the world that we can see and is always talked about. We all know about The First Noel, or Silent Night, or O Holy Night, the first Christmas, because we have it described to us in the Bible and Christmas songs you can hear played during the Christmas season. But what I want to do this morning is take you back behind the scenes, where people usually don’t go and don’t look and don’t know. You’ve all heard of special television shows about the making of movies, like The Making of Star Wars, where they show you behind the scene video of how the movie was made. They make a whole movie on the making of Star Wars. If that keeps up they may someday make movies about the making of the making of Star Wars, and so on, and so on. But they do this to show you what goes on behind the scenes because it’s interesting. If you go to Disney World in Florida, how many have ever gone to Disney? You’ll notice that everything is nice and neat and things run smoothly and everything is just perfect. That’s because behind the scenes a whole system is in place to make it run perfectly for you the customer’s benefit. But if you were to go behind the scenes, you would see tunnels the workers use, with pipes and wires. You would see storage rooms with all the things needed to run the park. It would look very different. It’s the same in any city. There is the surface, how it appears, and then there is the infrastructure it’s called where all the services of the city such as water, electric, sanitation, heat, cable, telephone, etc. are run. They try to keep those things out of sight because they aren’t needed to be seen. It’s the same with the systems in your house, or even the things inside your computer. You see your television or computer screen but you don’t see all the things behind the scene that make it work. Well, God has an infrastructure to your life and my life, it’s the behind the scene world of the spirit, but even though we can’t see it its real, and all kinds of activity takes place in it, that effects our lives today in the here and now. Now during the first Christmas, like I said, we are all familiar with the physical and material world and what historically happened. But if you aren’t familiar, here’s a brief summary. Jesus, the long awaited Messiah and Savior, was born of a virgin named Mary by miracle, in a little town called Bethlehem. Joseph was Mary’s husband and he couldn’t find a room at the local Holiday Inn for his family, so they had to stay in someone’s horse barn. That’s why in every nativity scene there are animals all around (I threw that bit of information in there for free because you might not have known why there are always animals around!). We had all the parts of the nativity scene on the float this year accept the animals because they would have taken too long to create. Next year we’ll add animals. Ok, that is how Christmas was on earth. And in your life, right now, there are things happening in it that you can’t understand, that you can see with your eyes, the physical world, but you get the feeling there is more to the picture. There is. Your life is also connected to the spiritual world. Just like that first Christmas, there is more than meets the eye. But now let’s find out what was happening behind the scenes.

Two, there is a battle taking place between the forces of good and evil. And it’s the same in your life — there is a battle taking place over your soul between the forces of good and evil. But we’ll get to that later. For now, let’s go to Revelations 12 and take a peek behind the scenes of silent night, the first Christmas. You may have never, ever heard about this behind-the-scene account of the birth of Jesus, but it’s real, only it is invisible and out of sight. (Read Revelations 12). Now Revelation is a tricky book and I don’t want to get into all the symbolisms or we’ll be here all day long, but as you can see from the description, we are reading another account of the first Christmas, but you won’t find this account on postcards, in songs, and nativity scenes. We see here Mary about to give birth to Jesus, but a dragon ready to kill the child just as it is born. Now, remember when king Herod tried to find the baby born in Bethlehem in order to kill it? That was how the dragon was trying to kill Jesus. The dragon is of course the devil, the prince of darkness, and he will use evil people and things to do his will. What took place was a spiritual battle between the heavenly angels and the demons over the birth of Jesus. You have angels and demons fighting for the life of baby Jesus. That all happened in the spiritual dimension, but on earth it was silent night, holy night, all is calm all is bright. But in the spiritual dimension there was a lot going on to save the baby. Now you understand why we saw a video clip of two contrasting things: someone singing silent and night, and two armies engaging in battle; because these two things can and did happen on the first Christmas. And that is why every Christmas there is a battle between the forces of good and evil over Christmas. The prince of darkness and his evil spirits want no mention or credit given to Jesus at Christmas time. He wants you to get so wrapped up in presents and all the other things at Christmas time that you totally forget about Jesus. That’s why in the Jamestown parade of over one hundred floats assembled for a Christmas parade, our church’s was the only one that actually was a Christmas float, Christ was in it, the whole reason for the season. Why? Because the enemy wants people to forget about Jesus, salvation, eternal life, forgiveness of sins, meaning and purpose, and he wants people to stay in their sins, unforgiven, no salvation, lost, without meaning or purpose in life. It’s a battle every Christmas. But the heavenly angels battle it out and so the devil can’t accomplish his goal and Jesus does win every Christmas. Now we come to your life and how this all relates.

Three, our lives have as much happening behind the scenes as they do visible. What the Bible teaches us in these passages is that reality isn’t what it appears to be, and that in the spiritual world, the world we cannot see, there are things taking place that effect life as we know it. A lot of times things are happening in the spiritual world that confuse us. Remember the poem “Footprints in the Sand?” If you haven’t heard of it, here it is:

One night a man had a dream. He dreamed
he was walking along the beach with the LORD.
Across the sky flashed scenes from his life.
For each scene he noticed two sets of
footprints in the sand: one belonging
to him, and the other to the LORD.
When the last scene of his life flashed before him,
he looked back at the footprints in the sand.
He noticed that many times along the path of
his life there was only one set of footprints.
He also noticed that it happened at the very
lowest and saddest times in his life.
This really bothered him and he
questioned the LORD about it:
“LORD, you said that once I decided to follow
you, you’d walk with me all the way.
But I have noticed that during the most
troublesome times in my life,
there is only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why when
I needed you most you would leave me.”
The LORD replied:
“My son, my precious child,
I love you and I would never leave you.
During your times of trial and suffering,
when you see only one set of footprints,
it was then that I carried you.”

 

Now what is happening in our lives a lot of times is that things are happening in the spiritual world and we can’t see these things happening. Think of it. There are probably many times when your life was saved, but you don’t even know it because it all took place secretly, behind the scenes, in the infrastructure of your life. Think of all the battles that have been waged over your soul, how many times angels have defended you, and actually saved you from danger. But you say, “Yes, but what about the bad things that happen to me? Where are the angels and God then?” That’s part of the mystery of the life we are living here on earth. Sometimes God and the angels intervene, but sometimes they don’t, and sometimes they want to let you play your part and fulfill your calling as a child of God and use your powers of free choice and grow and mature. Why doesn’t God bail you out of every problem you have? Because he wants you to grow and mature. Why does God bail you out and help you at other times? Because he feels you need His help and it fits into His plans for your life. But the mystery is that we can’t figure it all out. Jesus says, “I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.” He says He comes to bring you real life, life with meaning and purpose and inspiration. But we have to follow him and trust him and walk with him and depend on him as our guide through life. We have to become aware that things are going on behind the scenes and be wise. Are you aware of what is going on when you are tempted to sin? Imagine what happens in the spiritual world when the enemy is trying to discourage you or frustrate your life. What would happen if someone cut the power lines at Disney? It would really cause problems. Well, in the spiritual world there are evil creatures cutting things left and right to see if they can mess you up. Are you aware of that? The Christmas season is a perfect time for us to become spiritually sensitive to full reality. We’ve seen how Christmas itself is more than just meets the eye, now let’s carry that into our own lives and realize that we live in a reality that operates on more than one level. There are dangers and blessings in the spiritual world. Through drawing close to God in prayer, in reflecting on the Bible, through spiritual activity, we can become aware of full life, material and spiritual. When God has just blessed us, we can recognize it and thank him for it. When we are under spiritual attack we can pray and ask assistance and receive it. Why not use this holiday season to get closer to God and experience more of real life than you’ve ever experienced before? Why not use this Christmas season as an excuse to become spiritually alive?

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