That is why God has raised him to such a height, given him that name which is greater than any other name; so that everything in heaven and on earth and under the earth must bend the knee before the name of Jesus, and every tongue must confess Jesus Christ as the Lord, dwelling in the glory of God the Father.Philippians 2:9-11KNOX
For which thing God enhanced him, and gave to him a name that is above all name; [For which thing and God enhanced him, and gave to him a name that is above all names;] that in the name of Jesus each knee be bowed, of heavenly things, [and] of earthly things, and of hell’s; and each tongue acknowledge, that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father.Philippians 2:9-11WYC
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.Philippians 2:9-11AKJV
“That is why,” “For which thing” and “Wherefore” indicate the reason God exalted Jesus Christ above all others. The reason is that Jesus “6 who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (AKJV)
Jesus’ willingness to humble Himself, to “make Himself of no reputation” is also the reason Paul calls upon Christians to likewise humble ourselves. If we walk about with our noses stuck in the air, who will benefit? Certainly not those who are lost. Neither will our spiritual pride bring glory to God. Note that Jesus’ humility brought glory to God the Father. His willingness to step out of His power and accept human weaknesses – including death – is why He is now exalted above all names.
10 Say ye among the Gentiles, the Lord hath reigned. For he hath corrected the world, which shall not be moved: he will judge the people with justice.
11 Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad, let the sea be moved, and the fulness thereof:
12 the fields and all things that are in them shall be joyful. Then shall all the trees of the woods rejoice
13 before the face of the Lord, because he cometh: because he cometh to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with justice, and the people with his truth.
An appropriate view of God is to recognize Him as Parent. Jesus is smart to introduce God, His Father as our Father when He prays, “Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name.” David calls God “King” and “Judge.” And yes, God is our King and our Judge. But above these roles, He is our Parent. He corrects us like the perfect parent corrects – with justice and love.
And so, the heavens rejoice; and the earth is glad. Everything on the earth is joyful “because He comes; because He comes to judge the earth…with justice, and the people with HIS TRUTH.”
If I should climb up to heaven, thou art there; if I sink down to the world beneath, thou art present still. ( Psalms 138:8, KNOX )
A puzzle here in David’s words and in the oral rendition of the story of Job – God is everywhere! We imagine God is incapable of being in the presence of evil, but that is obviously not so. Yes, He turns from His Son at the Cross when all the sins of the world attach themselves to Jesus; but God is found even if we climb to the heavens or descend to the realms of death and hell. That the Lord comes into the presence of the Enemy, Satan is evident in the beginning moments of the story of Job.
6 One day, when the heavenly powers stood waiting upon the Lord’s presence, and among them, man’s Enemy, 7 the Lord asked him, where he had been? Roaming about the earth, said he, to and fro about the earth.8 Why then, the Lord said, thou hast seen a servant of mine called Job. Here is a true man, an honest man, none like him on earth; ever he fears his God, and keeps far from wrong-doing. 9 Job fears his God, the Enemy answered, and loses nothing by it. 10 Sheltered his life by thy protection, sheltered his home, his property; thy blessing on all he undertakes; worldly goods that still go on increasing; he loses nothing. 11 One little touch of thy hand, assailing all that wealth of his! Then see how he will turn and blaspheme thee. 12 Be it so, the Lord answered; with all his possessions do what thou wilt, so thou leave himself unharmed. And with that, the Enemy left the Lord’s presence, and withdrew. ( Job 1: 6-12, KNOX )
God’s ability and willingness to be in the presence of the Enemy is nearly as difficult to understand and accept as His ability and willingness to suffer and die. God is engaged with death and evil. To think He is not is to misunderstand Him. God does not create death and evil; but He allows both. In so many ways, He uses both. Why?
Until the shepherds – who hear the word of the Lord through the angel who stands beside them with their flocks of sheep outside Bethlehem – see the Christ Child in the manger, they do not believe. Once they see the Child, then they tell others and those others wonder “of the things that were said to them of the shepherds.”
“And they hieing came, and found Mary and Joseph, and the young child laid in a feed-trough [put in a cratch]. And they seeing, knew of the word that was said to them of this child. And all men that heard wondered, and of these things that were said to them of the shepherds”
On the other hand, Mary hears the words but keeps them together with what she already knows. She stores all this knowledge in her heart, and does not speak.
But Mary kept all these words, bearing together in her heart.
The shepherds once again glorify and praise God for what the angel tells them and for what they now hear and see – they recognize that what is told to them is true.
And the shepherds turned again, glorifying and praising God in all things that they had heard and seen, as it was said to them.”
Mary is like someone in shock; soaking up everything that happens without fully understanding. She’s been through childbirth in less than ideal conditions; now strangers clamber to see her newly born son. Animals moo and bleat and stink. She’s barely presentable, not much like our nativity scenes, I imagine. All this young mother can do is “keep all these words, bearing together in her heart” which will break.
The night Jesus is born, shepherds keep watch over their flocks of sheep in the hillside pastures around Bethlehem. An angel of the Lord appears to them, stands beside them. The “clearness of God shines about them” and they are filled with “great dread.” The angel tells the shepherds not to be in dread because he comes with a sermon of “a great joy.” The angel proclaims the first evangelism – that “a great joy shall be to all people. For a Saviour is born to day to you, that is Christ the Lord, in the city of David.”
The angel says this joy is for all people.
“And shepherds were in the same country, waking and keeping the watches of the night on [upon] their flock. And lo! the angel of the Lord stood beside them, and the clearness of God shined about them [and the clearness of God shone about them]; and they dreaded with great dread. And the angel said to them, Do not ye dread; for lo! I preach to you a great joy [lo! soothly I evangelize to you a great joy], that shall be to all people. For a Saviour is born to day to you, that is Christ the Lord, in the city of David.”
The angel tells the shepherds that a token is to appear in the form of a newborn child – one they can find in a manger. Immediately after he speaks, a “knighthood” of heavenly beings appears to praise the Lord. Likely the shepherds are still in dread, but they decide to check out the message of the angel. They speak among themselves, move together to seek out the Christ Child. Only when they find Him do they believe the news of “a great joy that shall be to all people.”
Joseph naturally dreads his marriage to the young maiden, Mary since she is pregnant; and that, out of wedlock. Joseph ought to report Mary, have her stoned to death per the Law of Moses. Yet, he listens to the angel of the Lord who comes to him in his sleep.
The angel of the Lord says something truly extraordinary, that Jesus “shall make His people safe from their sins.” The angel doesn’t say, “Jesus shall make His people free from sin.” Rather, the angel verifies that Jesus is to make His own people “safe from their sins.”
“But while he thinks these things, lo! the angel of the Lord appears to him in sleep, and says, Joseph, the son of David, do not thou dread to take Mary, thy wife; for that thing that is born in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bear a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall make his people safe from their sins.”
That we sin is a fundamental truth in the Christian life. That Jesus died for our sins is also a fundamental truth of the Christian life. Jesus nails the Law to the tree, and washes away the wage of death with His blood.
Gabriel doesn’t come to Mary under his own power or by his own decision. He is sent, rather, to Mary by God. God sends Gabriel to a specific town, to a specific girl betrothed to a specific “man of David’s lineage.”
God doesn’t look down through time and see a young girl He knows will choose Him and then say to Himself, “Well, she’ll do.” Rather, He chooses Mary. She, by His choice, becomes the woman blessed above all women by God Himself.
“When the sixth month came, God sent the angel Gabriel to a city of Galilee called Nazareth, where a virgin dwelt, betrothed to a man of David’s lineage; his name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name was Mary. Into her presence the angel came, and said, Hail, thou who art full of grace; the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women.”
Mary does not resist God’s call. She does question Gabriel, asks ‘how can this be?’ But God’s call is irrevocable as the author of Hebrews tells us. And Isaias (Isaiah) muses:
“What a strange thought is this! As well might clay scheme against the potter; handicraft disown its craftsman, or thing of art call the artist fool.” (Isaias 29: 16)
“For this thing the Lord himself shall give a sign to you. Lo! a virgin shall conceive, and shall bear a son; and his name shall be called Immanuel. [Lo! a maid(en) shall conceive, and bare a son; and thou shalt call his name Immanuel.]”
What is ‘this thing’ Isaiah mentions? ‘This thing’ is whatever wearies, not only men, but God.
“And Isaiah said, And so, hear ye, the house of David; is it not enough for you to make men weary? must ye also make my God weary as well?” (Isaiah 7: 13)
What wearies man and God? Evil. And apparently the evil existing within His chosen people – no, not the nation of Israel alone, but any one person whom He selects as His own.
Isaiah says that the child called “God With Us” will “eat butter and honey, that He know how to reprove evil, and choose good.” (Isaiah 7: 15)
Choosing good is what we can’t seem to get right. For this thing, God comes into the world as an infant, to take up our burdens and walk as we walk, to die in our stead so we might live.
“True wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord; he best discerns, who has knowledge of holy things.”
7 True wisdom is founded on the fear of the Lord; who but a fool would despise such wisdom, and the lessons she teaches? 8 Heed well, my son, thy father’s warnings, nor make light of thy mother’s teaching; 9 no richer heirloom, crown or necklace, can be thine. 10 Turn a deaf ear, my son, to the blandishments of evil-doers that would make thee of their company. 11 There are lives to be had for the ambushing, the lives of unsuspecting folk whose uprightness shall little avail them; 12 there are fortunes to be swallowed up whole, as a man is swallowed up by death when he goes to his grave. 13 No lack of treasures here, they say, rich plunder that shall find its way into our houses; 14 thou hast but to throw in thy lot with us; every man shares alike. 15 Such errands, my son, are not for thee; never stir a foot in their company; 16 thou knowest well how eager they are for mischief, how greedy for blood, 17 and the snare is laid to no purpose if the bird is watching. 18 What do they, but compass their own ruin, plot against their own lives? 19 Such is ever the end of greed; he who cherishes it must fall by it at last. (Proverbs 1: 7-19)
The opposite of true wisdom, without a doubt, is foolishness. And foolishness leads, apparently, to greed. The cherishing of money is, indeed, the root of all evils. Foolishness results in chasing after people who say “throw in with us; you’ll never lack. We’ll share our wealth with you.” The foolish one fails to see how “eager they are for mischief, how greedy for blood.” When he keeps their company, he invariably sets himself up for a fall.
On the other hand, true wisdom is the fear of the Lord and “knowledge of holy things.” What is knowledge of holy things? Some would say it’s avoidance of the world. Some might say it’s keeping in the Word of God and in the company of the saints. Avoiding the world is the wrong approach to true wisdom. Rather, lean not on your own understanding. Rely on God’s understanding. How? By keeping in His Word. True wisdom is understanding that with God, life is always better than it is without Him.