What is the most significant date in history? Could it have been the 3rd September 1939, the day world war 2 broke out? Or maybe the 6th August 1945, the day ‘the bomb’ was dropped on Hiroshima. Or possibly it was the 9th November 1989, the day the wall came down in Berlin. It could also be September the 11th 2001, when the Twin Towers were attacked. Or maybe it was the day when Angelina Jolie met Brad Pitt (The most significant DATE in history, get it?).
There are many moments in history when the world changed, but there is one moment so significant that we still measure time by it….The Birth of Jesus Christ. The year Jesus was born is the year 00. Oh, I know the Gregorian’s measured it wrong and our calendars are a little off, but the point is that the world reckons Jesus’ birth to be the most significant moment in history…..Christian, do you know why that is?
Alistair Kirk has written a fantastic little book called ‘Revelation at The Manger’, where he reveals the ‘hidden truths from the birth of Christ’. A catchy title, but I don’t think there are any hidden truths concerning Jesus’ birth. There are, however, a whole lot of ‘unknown’ truths about Jesus’ birth, things that as Christian we should know, but we don’t! It is this ‘unknown’ stuff about Christmas that Alistair Kirk does a brilliant job revealing. He ably weaves together all the different strands of the Christmas message into an intricate tapestry. As each chapter builds on another we are presented with the bigger picture of Christmas. This isn’t simply a view of the most important moment in history, as a moment, but a view that draws in the whole story of history and salvation.
Alistair Kirk presents some of the deeper detail and theology of Christmas, but he does so in easy-to-read segments; the chapters are short, straightforward, but they get you thinking. He enables the reader to see the depth without being too ‘heavy’, or complicated. Yes, there are a few areas where I’d like to see more detail, such as some different theories on the priesthood Melchizedek, and a few other places where he does encourage speculation, such as on the identity of the Magi. However, Kirk’s main effort is to remain faithful to Scripture and he deftly uses God’s Word, drawing out the fullest meaning behind the Christmas story.
You may think you know the message of Christmas, and I’m sure most of us will know most of what Alistair Kirk is writing about, but his gift is to paint the bigger picture and draw out the profound significance of the birth of Christ.
You may have heard the story of Bethlehem, but have you ever wondered why Jesus was born there and that town’s deep significance to history and prophecy? You may have heard the story of the shepherds, but do you really know who they were, and the profound significance of where they were when the Angels came? You may know the tale of the Magi come from the east, but do you know why they came and the significance of what they brought to Jesus? You will have heard about King Herod and his massacre of the innocents after the birth of Jesus, but do you know who was behind Herod’s actions and the reason he behaved as he did? Herod’s place in history is greater than you may know.
None of this is by any means ‘secret knowledge’ it is not hidden (despite the books catchy title), it is in plain sight to anyone who cares to read the Bible. What this book should do, is cause us to open another book, and read that story again and again.
I found Alistair Kirk’s last two chapters, entitled ‘battle’ and light’, to have the greatest personal challenge. Having built the significance of Christmas over the previous chapters, the last two remind us of the continued spiritual conflict and ultimate victory of Christ in the world, and of how as the light of that world Jesus’ ultimate work is to take each of us out of darkness into the light of salvation.
If you are looking for a book to read this Christmas, then I can recommend ‘Revelation at The Manger’. Each chapter is accompanied by a set of prayers that encourage a devotional approach to the book. Why not read and pray a chapter a day (just 9 chapters) in the lead up to Christmas as a way of preparing yourself for the greatest story ever told.