One of the most beloved hymns in the world is Silent Night. Most everyone knows at least the first verse:
Silent Night. Holy Night.
All is Calm; all is bright.
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child,
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace (2x)
We sing it imagining a newborn baby sleeping in his mother’s arms with animals and shepherds looking on serenely. Maybe that was what it was like.
Yet, the last two words of the verse above say much more than what we often hear.
In the prologue to “The Nativity Story, A Novel,” Angela Hunt writes, “All was not calm on that long-ago evening in Bethlehem; all was not bright. For desperation shadowed the hearts of men, and evil fully intended to blot out the light.”
Christ’s human birth occurs in the middle of God’s story. It was spoken about long ago, when the battle between Good and evil began back in Genesis. Humans messed up so God said He would send His Son to save humanity.
The enemy wasn’t going to let that happen.
In Revelation 12:4, John writes, “And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.”
To defeat your enemy you need to know your enemy. The enemies of Satan are God and all who God loves (which is us).
Satan was well aware of Jesus’ birth.
How could he not be?
A bunch of angels told the shepherds of his birth.
I expect he knew about Gabriel visiting Mary nine months prior to Jesus’ birth.
And the devil probably whispered in Joseph’s ear not to believe Mary’s story. He likely encouraged Joseph to have Mary stoned so the Christ Child would never be born.
God isn’t into frivolous displays of His power. When He sends angels something big is happening.
God knew the enemy would try to kill the Baby before and after He was born so God made sure protection was in place. Very likely along with the messenger angels there were a lot of unseen warrior angels.
This was and is a war.
Joseph must have been tough. He was tasked to protect Mary and the Baby. He took that challenge seriously.
Having the Child born in a stable among animals meant obscurity for the family (even though the shepherds proclaimed the Birth all over town). Obscurity is a very potent form of protection.
No one knows when the Wisemen showed up. We are pretty sure it wasn’t the same night of His birth because scripture says they found the Child with His Mother in a house, not in a barn.
Their arrival put the Holy Family in danger. They were no longer hidden. The enemy could now use those in power, specifically Herod, to have the child killed.
The devil has never and will never best God.
God was way ahead of him (as He always is).
God’s angel told Joseph about this new danger. Joseph gathered his little family in the night and fled to Egypt.
That heavenly peace we sing about is indeed that – heavenly.
Your life is protected by Almighty God. His Mighty Spirit keeps back the evil from being fully evil. Yes, there is much evil in the world, but it is so much less than it would be if evil was not restrained by God’s Spirit.
Rest in the heavenly peace we all experience. Revel in it. It truly is a gift we enjoy all year long.
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