And the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people. For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior who is Christ the Lord.’ Luke 2:10-11
While taking care of my work the other day, I listened to the excellent sermon I’m about to link to, courtesy of the Grace To You app on my phone*. Taught by John MacArthur, it is part of his “The Promise of Christmas” series and could not be more lovely or appropriate to the season. Believer or no, I encourage you to look it up on the app or just follow the link and listen to (or read) Pastor MacArthur teaching “God, the Saviour of Men”. (The messages “The Announcement of Jesus’ Birth” are excellent, too.)
The God of the Old Testament was known to His people as a Savior. Israel knew God as a Savior. Now that was not the way it was with gods, the gods of men’s making. There’s only one God, the one true and living God, the eternal God, and He is by nature a Savior, He is a saving God. To use another word, a synonym, He is a Deliverer. He delivers people from threatening things. He is a rescuer, that’s another synonym.
And He is that by nature and that’s not how it is in the science of ethnology and the world of religion and deities. In fact, you can study religions and you’re not going to find gods who are by nature saviors. You’re going to find in every religious system in the world a means by which somehow man can do something to appease the god and somehow by his own efforts and his own works save himself. But you’re not going to find any God who is by nature a Savior, a rescuer.
…The Jews knew this. That was distinctive. They knew God to be wise. They knew Him to be powerful. They knew Him to be understanding. They knew Him to be just and all of those things. But they also knew that by nature in contradistinction to all other deities He was a Savior. I mean, they would know that if they read the book of Genesis because in Genesis God said, “In the day you eat of the fruit of the tree (you’ll what?) you’ll die.” They ate, they lived. And what does that tell you? That’s called mercy. God didn’t deliver the consequences of their behavior that they deserved because it’s His nature to be patient. It’s called in Romans 2 the patience and forbearing of God, which is meant to lead you to repentance. I mean, God by nature is that way. Now God in Egypt says, “I’m going to send the angel of death and he’s going to kill all the firstborn but I just want to let you know that if you’ll hold the Passover and take the Passover lamb and sacrifice the lamb and eat the lamb, take the blood and put it on the doorpost and lintel, I’ll pass by and the angel of death won’t touch your house if you do that.” Because it’s God’s nature to deliver men from the consequence of sin, that’s His nature.
* I goofily thank God for the ability to listen to sermons on my phone at least once a week, if not more often, and am surely not the only one. I listen to news and various other things on it, too, but what a blessing, yes? To be able to, say, clear the woods or weed the garden or hang laundry and learn and be edified at the same time? Wow!