Mankind is made ready for the Nativity of Christ

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And unto him shall the gathering of the people be (Genesis 49:10), said the righteous man of the Old Testament about Christ. That’s why so great and universal is the Nativity of Christ that the whole world and all nations anxiously anticipated it. Could it be true that the nations, and the people of the time in general, were so exalted in their expectations, hopes, and thoughts? Of course, every nation, both now and always, has had before, and has in our days, many people who expect from life nothing but fulfillment of their basic needs, or, as best case scenario, wealth, comfort and various pleasures. But can they be called men? Such a man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish (Psalm 48:21). In any case, it isn’t these men who make up a strong and active nation to lead it to the future. It is them who possess lofty, pure, and spiritual expectations, aspirations, and thoughts. And thus, in this sense – for the nations and the people, the "young Child" (from the festive kontakion) born today constituted the subject of lengthy, time-honored, and tense expectations. They were so tense that one could say the whole earth and the whole universe groaned in expectation.

Understandably, such tense expectations were particularly strong among the Israelites, the best of the nations of the ancient world, the ones the Lord had made His chosen people for the positive qualities they possessed at the time. The choicest men of this nation have lived and breathed this “hope” since the earliest times. They knew in advance, through the revelation from God, from what family living at the moment must come forth the Redeemer whom they so anticipated.

Needless to say, how significant it was that, at any time, thousands of years before the coming of Christ, everyone among the nation of Israel could, so to speak, point to the lineage where the Deliverer of the whole world, the future Savior of mankind, will come one day. With this, He has, as if already visibly, pre-existed in this world. And those families cherished this lofty honor so dearly! Some of them directly coveted it and used every means possible to attract to themselves this truly great blessing of God typically passed on from God through the father to the eldest son of the family. It is known, for example, how the Patriarch Jacob obtained this honor for his lineage. If everyone among this nation so anxiously anticipated the arrival of the Deliverer, the outright reverence, with which all of them must have viewed the particular family from whom they expected Him to be born, is apparent.

They anticipated Him with ever-increasing tension, and the longer they waited, the greater was this tension. The further sin increased, the more evil, violence, unrighteousness spread on earth, the more intense their anticipation grew. Arise (rise up, ascend), O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations (for You inherit all nations—because You rule all nations). How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked (show acceptance to the wicked)? (Psalm 81:2,8)—exclaimed the best men of Israel in sorrow. Read the Psalms and you will see how every groan of a wronged orphan, every tear of an oppressed widow increased the anticipation of the long-promised Deliverer in the eyes of a righteous Jew of old. He was expected to deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper. He shall spare the poor and the needy, and shave save the souls of the needy. He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence (Psalm 71:12-14). As early as several centuries before the birth of Christ, anticipation of the Savior had reached such intensity that the desire of all nations (Haggai 2:7) seemed to have become His accepted name.

Truly, “by all" nations. The fact that the Gentiles also waited for Him just as anxiously is evident from the way they accepted Him. They accepted Him even more eagerly and readily than the Jews. They simply rushed to Christ when He came into the world. How could they not wait for Him, expected by all? What happened among the Gentiles in the end before Christ's coming was even worse, many times worse, than is was with the Jews. Truth was nowhere to be found. Some of them didn’t know what else there was to contrive, because of luxury and indulgence in the most unnatural vices. The city of Pompeii was burned down by God before the coming of Christ for the immoral lifestyle entrenched there; it’s simply impossible to believe what disgusting things were written and drawn by the people there. Others, on the contrary, such as the slaves, groaned from labor; they were beaten like animals and fed worse than cattle. Moreover, it got to the point that people—the slaves—were fed to exotic fish: they would throw one slave a day into a pond, one by one, as feed, because this particular breed (the moray eel) enjoyed devouring human meat. When the slaves rebelled, they were crucified on crosses; once, the whole forty-six-mile- long road from Rome to another city was lined with such crosses, with slaves crucified on them. It was impossible to continue living like that, and that’s why when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman (Galatians 4:4).

Christ came—and everything changed at once, very soon. People who believed in Him began to live much like the angels. Christians had neither the poor nor the scorned. Everyone was nourished and warmed by mutual love, mutual affection, and meekness.

True, it was so only when there were yet few Christians, when the best of men turned to Christianity, and they did it out of conviction. But even later, when whole nations became Christian, there was less iniquity and bitterness on earth.

There is less of it now than during those awful times before the coming of Christ. But, you can say, there is still enough of it. Of course it is true that there is a lot of evil on earth—so much that there seemingly has never been less of it and it never will grow less. But a Christian cannot but continue to believe that there will be a time on earth when the name of God will be hallowed, His kingdom will come, the will of God will be done in earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:9–10). He cannot but believe it, because he prays daily about it, and thousands and millions of other souls pray with him. And God hears prayers.

If it is necessary for the Savior to come again to establish all this kingdom of God on earth—and this is exactly what is necessary—then it remains for the Christian to exclaim along with the Apostle who said it immediately after the first coming of Christ: Even so, come, Lord Jesus, and to hear the Divine answer, Surely, I come quickly (Revelations 22:20).

From: Christian Feasts, by Mikhail Skaballanovich

Mikhail Skaballanovich
Translation by Liubov Ambrose


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