December 23, 2021 | Silver Spring, Maryland, United States | Ted N.C. Wilson, President, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
TW: Greetings, friends. During this special time of year Nancy and I would like to send you our warmest Christian greetings! We pray that wherever you are just now you will sense, in a very real way, the closeness of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
NW: Several years ago, on October 29, 1993, the seven astronauts aboard the space shuttle, “Columbia,” were awakened by music coming from mission control in Houston, Texas. That morning’s wake-up call featured the song, “From a Distance,” and the words seemed so appropriate as the astronauts gazed down at the earth nearly 200 miles below: “From a distance, the world looks blue and green, and the snow-capped mountains white.”
TW: The song continues describing the beauty of the earth, and the peace and harmony that seem to exist–from a distance. It then drives its point home–“God is watching us—from a distance,” suggesting that God is a far-away being who is not acquainted with all of the problems and sorrows we face here on Earth.
NW: But nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, embedded in His very name–“Immanuel,” is the beautiful truth of “God with us.”
TW: Referencing the prophecy found in Isaiah 7:14, the angel who appeared to Joseph in a dream reminded him of the promise: “Behold the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, ‘God with us'” (Matt. 1:23).
When Adam and Eve sinned, God did not watch from a distance. He came searching for them and provided a promise that all was not lost. When Moses climbed Mt. Sinai, God came down and spoke with him there. Longing to be near to the people, He told Moses, “Let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them” (Ex. 25:8). Throughout history God has longed to be close to His people, and when it was the time foretold by the prophets, He came “in the flesh” to “dwell among us.”
NW: When Jesus came to earth, He could have chosen to be born into a rich, powerful family. But He wasn’t. He could have chosen to be born among the leading religious families in Israel, but He wasn’t. Instead, He chose a humble but dedicated, God-fearing family for His earthly home.
TW: We read this amazing description by Ellen White in an article published in the Review & Herald, December 23, 1890:
“Jesus left his home in glory, clothed his divinity with humanity, and came to a world marred and polluted by the curse of sin. He might have remained in his heavenly home, and received the adoration of angels; but he came to earth to seek and save the lost, the perishing. ‘For your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.’ He, the Majesty of heaven, who was one with the Father, denied himself, made every possible sacrifice, in order that man might not perish, but have everlasting life” (RH December 23, 1890, Art. A, par. 3).
NW: This is our God–the God who does not watch us from a distance, but draws very, very near. He was “despised and rejected by men. A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. . . . Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows . . . He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed” (Is. 53:3-5).
Today, this very same Jesus, who lived on this earth, who understands our joys and our sorrows, who knows our worries and cares, who sees every teardrop and every smile, invites us to: “Call upon Me, and I will answer” (Ps. 91:15).
TW: Friends, God is indeed very near. And one day soon, we will have the joy of seeing Him face to face. What a day that will be! Are you ready to meet Him? Have you accepted the gift of His salvation? If not, there is no better time to do that than right now. If you would like to accept Jesus as your Savior, or would like to recommit your life to Him, I invite you to pray with me just now.
Father in heaven, thank you for providing an eternal escape for all of us, through the wonderful incarnation of Jesus who lives the perfect life, performed so many miracles and ministered to people during his walk here on this earth, and then died on the cross for each one of us, and now promises to come to take us home to be with him. Thank you for this amazing plan of salvation and for Christ ministry in the most holy place of their heavenly sanctuary right now, interceding on our behalf, we know that soon, Jesus will take off those priestly robes and put on his king the robes and will come to take us home to be with him, you know Lord we just are so grateful that you have not been a part from us, at a distance, but you have been with us and are with us to the very end of time, thank you for hearing us and the promise of your soon return, we thank you in the name of Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, and are coming king, amen.