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  • prcseminary1925

Christmas 2022: Tidings of Joy

On this Christmas Eve, the PR Theological Seminary extends to our friends and supporters its prayer that the true peace, joy, and hope of our Savior Jesus Christ might be yours in this season and in the new year.

For your edification and reflection in this holiday season, we post an excerpt from a meditation of Herman Hoeksema, one of the founding fathers of the Protestant Reformed Churches and of the PRC Seminary (1925). "Tidings of Joy" is a meditation from his book The Mystery of Bethlehem, originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans in 1946 and later republished by the Reformed Free Publishing Association.

In this section, the grand themes of man's deep sin and God's amazing grace in His Son stand out - themes Hoeksema loved to emphasize, simply and powerfully. May we hear and receive anew God's good tidings of great joy in this season.

"Great joy? Indeed, but not for the flesh!

"What your eyes behold in Bethlehem’s stable is a scene of great misery! In one of the most forsaken spots, of an almost forgotten little town, a child is born under the most abject conditions! A pale mother, just delivered of a child; a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, with a manger for its cradle and a stable for its first home – these are the things you see! A picture of want and misery. If you do not watch and pray, you will feel urged to speak there in that stable, to express your heartfelt sympathy to that mother, and what is worse, you might feel an impulse to act immediately, to call for help, to remove this mother and child from these abject surroundings, and provide a home for them in the city. And thus you would destroy the Word of God that must needs reach your heart, if you would be partaker of the great joy of which the angel spoke!

"Have you forgotten the word of the heavenly messenger: “and this shall be a sign unto you”? Yes indeed, here in the stable you see a sign! You shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger – that is the sign!

"A sign is a Word of God! A sign too of the Word that is come to pass here in Bethlehem! It speaks clearly, as the Word of God always does. The message this God-ordained, divinely-willed and designed, visible token conveys is that there is no room for Him in all the world! Oh, make no mistake. The good people of Bethlehem must not be blamed. This stable and this manger are not of their design. They do not speak directly through this sign. You and I must be the last to condemn them. No, this is God’s sign. He willed it. He designed it. He considered it but proper, and the only proper thing, that His only begotten Son coming into the world should be born in a stable, should be wrapped in swaddling clothes of poverty, should have His bed in a manger! Therefore, this sign is a Word of God! And let us hear it: There is no room for the Son of God in all the world! The world, the flesh, men will not have Him! By nature, you and I hate this Babe!

"Great joy?

"Yes, but first hear this Word of God, to your shame and condemnation! Ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger!

"No room for Him! For consider Who He is, this Child that is the cause of the great joy of which the angel spoke, this Word that is come to pass. He is God come into our world! God, very God, the Eternal, the Infinite, Who is God indeed; the holy and righteous and true One. He came into the world in the Person of His only begotten Son. He came, not at the periphery of things, but into the very heart of our world, in our flesh and blood, for He is of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Judah, of the house of David, of the virgin Mary: the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us!

"Oh, it is great joy, indeed, but joy with fear and trembling, and joy only in the way of shame and repentance and humiliation. It is joy indeed, but only after we have heard the Word of God and received it, that in all the world there is no room for God to come down to us! There is no room in Bethlehem, no room in the inn, no room in Jerusalem, the city of the Great King, no room among the nations of the world. No one can, no one will receive Him. There is no room for Him in your and my hearts, as we are by nature!

"No room! And that too just because He is God!

"Joy? Yes, there is joy, but then only in the fact that God did come down to us, and that He will build His own house, and that He will make room for Himself. Do you not remember that long ago we cast Him out to make room for the Prince of this world, and that ever since we denied Him room?

"But He came – not because there is still a little room left for Him, but in spite of the fact that there was nowhere a place for Him!

"He came by the Wonder of His almighty grace… Joy indeed!"

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