Thousands of Years Before Bethlehem

Heaven Light's BreakingNote from Randy: Pastor and evangelist Greg Laurie has a new advent devotional out called Heaven’s Light Breaking. He shares wisdom, Scripture, and prayers to help you connect with God and find hope and peace amid the holiday rush.

Greg writes, “God entered our world. He walked in our shoes, lived our life, and died our death. God came near. I pray He comes near to you this Christmas season and that this book might play a small part.” I hope you enjoy this introduction from Heaven’s Light Breaking.

“My King who is alive from everlasting ages past!”

Micah 5:2, TLB

Have you noticed it? Behind the scenes, many of today’s scientists, historians, and educators have been working overtime trying to remove the familiar calendar designations of “BC” and “AD.”

It’s a small, subtle thing, of course.

But it has worlds of significance.

As we all know, BC means “Before Christ.” And AD stands for “Anno Domini,” a Latin term meaning “Year of Our Lord.” According to one keen observer, “The change was made to mask the Christian basis for the dating system, in a bid to accommodate non-Christians and maintain political correctness.”  Now you are seeing BCE, which means “Before Common Era,” and CE, which means “Common Era.”

To put it plainly, some people want to remove Jesus—or any hint or trace of Him—from our calendars and textbooks and culture. They don’t want to be reminded of His name. They don’t want to admit that He was born of a virgin mother in a stable in Bethlehem. They don’t want to acknowledge that He walked this earth, died on a cross, and rose from the grave. They don’t want to be reminded that Jesus changed history. They don’t want to admit the truth that for 2,000 years our calendars have hinged on the day of His birth.

That hinge is Christmas.

When the Son of God was born to Mary in Bethlehem of Judea, everything changed. Through time and eternity, nothing would or could ever be the same.

Christmas changed everything.

Christ changes everything—and all the politically correct scholars and “woke” writers in all the newsrooms and universities of the world can’t change that truth. It is the hinge of history. When God Himself entered the world in human form, when the great Creator of the universe became a baby boy, planet Earth was transformed forever. And so were we.

Jesus, of course, did not begin life when He was conceived in Mary’s womb or when He was born in that humble animal shelter. He has always existed as the Son of God, the third Person of the Trinity.

The real story of Christmas goes way, way back before Bethlehem, before Mary and Joseph, before the shepherds and wise men and innkeepers and King Herod and all of the people who played a part on that best of all nights 2,000 years ago.

How could that be? How could there be a Christmas story before Jesus came?

The answer is simply this: The story of Christmas is actually an integral part of an even greater story that goes all the way back to the beginning. It is the story of our redemption.

God had a plan to save humanity before it ever fell away from Him. God had a plan to offer salvation to you and to me before we ever saw the light of day.

Jesus knew you BC.

Quote from Heaven's Light BreakingThink about that for a minute or two. He loved you thousands of years before Bethlehem. David the psalmist exclaimed, “You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book! How precious it is, Lord, to realize that you are thinking about me constantly! I can’t even count how many times a day your thoughts turn toward me” (Psalm 139:16-18, TLB).

Yes, at the right moment the Lord came to us, born on a back street in the backwater town of Bethlehem. As it says in the book of Galatians: “When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman” (Galatians 4:4, NKJV). A better translation would be: “When the time was just right, God sent His Son…”

That is where He began life on earth, as the God-Man. This is where He first drew His lungs full of the air He had created. But the life of the Son of God goes back to the beginning of the beginning of the beginning. And before that! Speaking over seven centuries before the Lord’s birth, the prophet Micah wrote these words:

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,

Though you are small among the clans of Judah,

Out of you will come for me

One who will be ruler over Israel,

Whose origins are from of old,

From ancient times.”

(Micah 5:2, NIV)

“Origins from of old!” Another translation captures it like this: “O Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are but a small Judean village, yet you will be the birthplace of my King who is alive from everlasting ages past!”

The truth is, Jesus knew you and loved you before you were you.

Before your parents met.

Before your parents’ parents’ parents met.

Before our forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence.

Before Columbus set out from Spain.

Before Bethlehem.

Before Adam and Eve drew a breath.

Before the first star caught fire in the vault of space.

Before all Creation.

Never, never imagine that your life is random or without meaning. How could it be, when the Lord and Creator of the universe has loved you a million years before you were born.

Excerpted from Heaven’s Light Breaking: A 25-Day Advent Devotional.

Photo: Unsplash

Greg Laurie is the senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship with campuses in California and Hawaii.  In addition to assisting and speaking to other ministries, Laurie has authored over 70 books including Lennon, Dylan, Alice, & JesusBilly Graham: The Man I KnewJohnny Cash: The Redemption of an American IconJesus RevolutionSteve McQueen: The Salvation of an American Icon