The War in Bethlehem
*Copyright Larry Ragland - 1996
Just about everyone knows the story of the "baby Jesus". Even the sinners in the world know this story!
From the house next door to the White House, everybody has heard of the 3 Wise Men and the Shepherds. The Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.
Most know that He was born in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes.
If I asked you today to name the "earthly" Father and Mother of the "baby Jesus", I dare say you would answer Joseph and Mary without even thinking about it.
Some of you could probably even quote the famous words of the angel found in Luke chapter 2 verses 10-11, "Fear not: for, behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord". Well, maybe not, but you could probably get pretty close.
My point is this...most people know something about the story of the birth of our Lord and Savior. Most people know that this is the real meaning of Christmas, even if they don't act like it! But what most people don't know is that this story goes way beyond a stable in the mountains of Bethlehem. This story did not begin with Mary and Joseph or even Elizabeth, John the Baptist's mother. It began at least 6 or 7 thousand years ago.
The birth of Jesus Christ was more than a "great event", more than a "fulfilled prophecy". My friend it was the victory in a long war that had been fought in the heavenlies for thousands of years...well let me explain.
John 1:1 says these words "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." My friend the Word is none other than Jesus Christ himself. But there is a very important detail in that scripture of which you need to take notice.
The scripture said that the "Word" was in the beginning and the "Word" was "with" God and the "Word" was God. Notice that it did not say "Jesus".
Now before any of you get all bent out of shape, understand that I am not denying the "Godship" of Jesus, nor am I saying that Jesus was ever created or ever had a beginning. Jesus is God, He has always been God and He will always be God.
I am simply saying that before the birth of the "baby Jesus", He was known in Heaven and in the Trinity as "The Word of God".
The Bible tells us in John 1:14 that the "Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth."
You see before the Holy Ghost placed the Baby Jesus in the womb of Mary, He was simply the Word, but in order for Him to become the Son of God, He had to have a body. Now hold on this is going to get deep!
If you study the scriptures you will find that God has placed many different "laws" in His Word. Now I'm not talking about the laws of Moses, I'm talking about something entirely different. I'm talking about the "Laws of Creation".
When God created this planet He created certain laws to go along with it, such as "gravity". God made the Earth and knew that it would need something to hold its inhabitants on the planet, so He made gravity to hold all of His magnificent creation right were it should be.
For everything God created, He also created certain "laws" that pertain to that creation. There are laws for the plants and animals. There are laws for the solar system. There are laws for the "spirit realm", and yes there are laws for the human race. Let's first talk about the laws of the "spirit realm".
Now, throughout the Bible it teaches us that once a "spirit being" is created, it becomes eternal. Let me explain.
We have no record of one single Angel ever dying. Angels are spirit beings. Furthermore, the Bible never says that our spirits will die. I know that is says "...it is appointed unto men once to die..." (Heb. 9:27), but that is speaking of the body. I also acknowledge that the Bible tells us that if we deny Jesus Christ we will experience "eternal death". But that is speaking of "eternal separation from God" and "burning in hell".
The fact remains, the Bible instructs us that once a "spirit" is created, whether it be angel or man, it is eternal. Your spirit is who you really are. You are not that "earthly shell" that we call our bodies. That is simply our "earth suit". That is why the Bible continually speaks of God "looking upon the heart" of man. God does not look at the fleshly skin, God looks upon the spirit of man. "FOR GOD IS SPIRIT, and they that worship Him must worship Him in "spirit" and in truth". (John 4:24) Now let's go another step.
The book of Genesis tells us in chapter 1 verse 26 "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion...". You see, when God created man and placed him here on the Earth and gave him "dominion" on the earth, He instantly created another "law" for mankind that man and spirit would have to abide by.
What is that "law" you might ask? Well, I'm glad you asked! It is the law of "earthly dominion".
Let me explain.
God created this planet and created mankind for one reason. The Bible tells us that reason in Isa. 43:41 where it says these words..."This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise".
You see, God created us to praise Him, but He wanted us to do it by our own free will. In order for that to happen He had to give US "dominion" over our planet. By the act of doing this He knew that He would be limiting His own authority on Earth, even though He created it.
I am not saying that He somehow became "less of God". He has always been God and He will always be God. His power is limitless. I am simply saying that when God creates a law and speaks it into existence, He forces Himself to abide by it. Why? Because He is a Covenant God.
Now lets look at two of the "laws" that God has established:
1. Spirit beings are eternal.
2. Man was given dominion over everything on Earth.
Lets add one more---"spirits need a body in order to carry out certain things here on Earth".
Let me explain.
Satan is a spirit being. Even though he was the creator of evil and sin and is the so called "leader" of the demonic realm, he still couldn't even get Eve's attention in the Garden without the assistance of the body of the serpent.
As we read the New Testament we see many examples of men and women being "possessed" by demon spirits. Why? Because they needed a body.
Now it is obvious that spirit beings do not need a body to operate in the spirit realm for that has been happening for all of eternity, billions of years before the Earth was ever created. But you see we are not talking about the "spirit realm", we are talking about the "earthly realm".
Spirits can operate in their world with ease, but it is not that way here on Earth. God said you must have a body in order to operate in full authority here on Earth.
Angels cannot understand the things of man. The Bible tells us that angels desire to look in upon the things that be. (1 Peter 1:12)
If someone comes into this Earth by any other means than the womb of a woman, they are entering in as an illegal alien. They have no right to be here and they surely have no right to be in any kind of authority.
Not only did God understand this, but so did the devil. He realized that he was going to have to work out a plan to deceive man into giving up his authority. He devised what he believed to be the perfect plan.
You know the story. Satan deceived Eve and she turned and gave it to Adam and they both realized that they were naked and sinners. God had told them that if they ate the fruit of this tree they would die. The serpent told them that they would not die, but instead would become like God. Satan is a liar!
The moment they took the first bite they realized what God had meant was they would "die" spiritually.
Why did it feel like death? Because in an instance their "dominion" and "authority" were stripped, their very reason for living had left them, the thing that gave them "access" to God and His power had now been removed. Now the devil had it and he had it "illegally", but there was nothing at that moment that Adam or God could do about it. Because Adam had willingly given his dominion up and since he was in a body here on Earth, he had every right to do it.
But glory to God, the Father already had a plan. The Trinity realized that someone would have to go to Earth in the form of a man and "physically" take back from the devil what he had stolen.
There was a Heavenly conference within the Triune Godhead. Someone had to go, Who was it going to be? The Word stepped forward and said "I will go". Immediately the prophetic Word was given to the serpent..."I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel" (Gen. 3: 15).
The Word needed a body and God created one for Him. Hebrews 10:5 says "Wherefore when He cometh into the world, He saith...a BODY hast thou prepared me."
Next, they needed another body to give birth to this body. I don't know what the "search" for this person entailed, but I do know one thing, it would have to be someone who was holy and acceptable unto God. It would have to be a woman who had not been touched by any other man. Someone who was pure and "blessed among all other women". The only way a woman would be able to fit these qualifications, was that she would be a VIRGIN. The Godhead chose Mary a simple teenage girl whose heart was to serve God with all she had within her.
She was engaged to a man by the name of Joseph, a local carpenter, a simple man who loved God. He was a man that was a direct descendant of King David's house.
God knew when this great event began in Mary's womb many people would not understand what was happening. So God sent an angel to speak to Mary and Joseph to explain. For God knew that if it got out in the community that Mary was pregnant and unmarried, she would be banished from society and probably even stoned to death.
God knew the devil would do everything he could within his power to stop this birth. Satan realized that if this baby was born he was going to be defeated.
For you see, this baby was more than just a baby. This child would not be known as the "son of Joseph" for long. This child would be known as the "Son Of God Himself". This precious baby was the direct fulfillment of Genesis 3:15, this was the "seed of the woman".
Now keep in mind that before the "baby Jesus" was ever conceived in the womb of Mary, God had spoke His plan into existence several thousands of years before.
The Bible tells us that Jesus was the "...Lamb slain FROM the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8).
God knew at least 4,000 years before Mary was ever born that He would have to send His Son to die for the sins of the world. But not only did God know this, so did satan.
Throughout the Old Testament we read of a devil who did every thing he could to kill the Prophets thinking he could somehow stop this prophecy from being fulfilled.
Friend, from the beginning of time it had been all out "spiritual warfare" to stop that "baby" from being born. But glory to God, you and I both know that everything the devil did was not quite enough. God always wins!
But up until the last moment satan was trying to stop this miracle delivery. Let's look at Luke chapter 2, known by many as the "Christmas" chapter.
Luke 2: 8-13 says that there were shepherds abiding in the field watching over their flocks. Then suddenly out of nowhere there appeared a "host" of heavenly angels. Notice the word "host", it is the word "stratia" in the original Greek. This word has a very powerful meaning that may change the way you look at Christmas forever.
It means "a heavenly army of soldiers". What does that have to do with the entire story, you might ask?
Well I want you to let your mind journey to the rugged hills on the backside of a little town called Bethlehem. There is a census being taken that has caused people from many different locations to journey back home and crowd the streets. Mary and Joseph are some of those people. She is 9 months pregnant with the Savior of the world. There is no room in the inn.
Why was there no room in the inn? Spiritual Warfare, that's why! The devil and his little imps had already caused others to book all of the rooms so that Mary would go into labor in the cold night somewhere exposed and without shelter and maybe the baby and mother, but especially the baby would die. Why did Caesar Augustus send forth the "tax"? The word tax should be the word "census". Spiritual Warfare! It was a ploy of the devil to make Mary travel such a long distance so close to birth.
Why did Herod send forth the decree for the murder of all children under the age of 2? Spiritual Warfare!
Do you notice what is happening here? These are people being used to do the work of the devil! Remember, spirits need bodies. Satan couldn't do it himself for two reasons.
1. He's a coward
2. He is a spirit.
This was the greatest war ever fought in the history of eternity up until this time. Not only were there things going on here in the Earth to stop the birth of the Savior of all mankind, but there was an even greater war being fought in the heavenlies. God's angels were fighting the devil's angels by the multiplied trillions.
I can see it now. Mighty warring angels were fighting with everything they had to stop the demons of hell from getting to this precious woman riding on a donkey.
I can hear the angels of God crying out to each other words of encouragement, "Hold on, just a little while longer and it will be over". The angel looks down through the clouds and sees that someone has given Mary a place to lay. It is just a cave but it is better than nothing, at least our Lord would not have to be born in an open street.
The battle intensifies, it's getting closer. The pains of labor have set in. Mary is breathing deeper and has now begun to cry out in the travail of birth. She didn't think that it would be this hard to give birth to a child who had been conceived by the Holy Ghost Himself. Then she realizes that everything that is good comes with a price.
Thank God, she's not alone. She has the love of her life, Joseph, kneeling next to her encouraging her the entire way. He could have left her, but he didn't. She has a Godly man that is going to stick with her.
The pains are now greater and the warfare in the Heavenlies is greater as well. All of hell is unleashed for a final birage of attacks. God's angels are ready! The Father sends reinforcements. The mighty angels such as Michael and the other warring angels are called up to the battle.
Down on Earth it is becoming almost unbearable for Mary. She is not only facing the normal pain of childbirth, but she is trying to give birth to a baby that trillions of fallen angels are fighting to kill.
Then all of a sudden, Joseph screams...."Don't give up, I see Jesus". Mary is encouraged and gives a final push.
At that moment, there is a silence that seemed to last an eternity. The soldiers stopped fighting. Both sides were waiting to see what just happened.
Then in an instance a sound began to echo in the cave and out of the mountain, through the streets and into the heavenlies. What was that sound? The sound of a baby crying. The sound of a perfect child being born. The sound of Victory!
THE BATTLE HAD BEEN WON! Jesus was born!
It was at that moment that the Bible tells us an "army" of angels, not a "choir" of angels began to sing. Soldiers that had been trained to fight, some of them wounded because of the battle, heard the sweet sound of that baby's cry. It was the cry of total victory!
What did this battalion sing? Luke tells us..."Glory to God in the Highest, and ON EARTH PEACE, good will toward men". (2:14)
So do you see that there was more to this story than just a baby being born? It was the victory of a 4,000 year war.