Gordon-Conwell Blog

Advent Devotional Day 8: Christ, Our Warrior?!

December 10, 2017

2017 Gordon-Conwell Advent Devotional

Day 8 | Christ, Our Warrior?!

Zephaniah 3:14-20


We don’t normally associate Christmas with soldiers.

About the only soldier I associate with Christmas has been G.I. Joe. He was usually at the top of my gift list growing up. I’ll never forget when I got the Astronaut G.I. Joe, complete with a Mercury space capsule!

Somehow soldiers, warfare and fighting seem totally contrary to the spirit of Christmas. The Christmas motto is “peace on earth,” not “death to our enemies.” Christ came as “Prince of Peace,” not as “Jesus the Barbarian.” It’s all about a cute, cuddly baby in a manger, not some fearsome, ferocious conqueror on a stallion.

At least that’s what we’ve wrapped up Christmas to look like, all precious and prettified, but not totally true to the prophets who foretold what the coming of Christ at Christmas is truly all about. Certainly Zephaniah talks about some of the themes that we usually associate with Christmas: rejoicing and singing because “the LORD, the king of Israel, is with you” (v 15). God fully entered our human experience in the birth of Jesus, Immanuel –“God with us.”

This promise is so profound that in verse 17 the prophet restates it: “The LORD your God is with you.” But then Zephaniah slips in a phrase that seems very un-Christmassy: “a warrior who gives victory.”  The Hebrew word translated “warrior” is gibor, which has the idea of strength, greatness, prevailing and might, and is often used of the great warrior-kings of Israel, especially David.

The implication is clear, if somewhat uncomfortable. The birth of Jesus is a declaration of war, God’s invasion of a planet in rebellion. The first Christmas was D-Day, with Christ the first soldier to hit the beach. If Jesus had not come as a warrior, he could never claim the title Prince of Peace. If Christ is no soldier, he is no savior.

Lord, as we remember your birth and look ahead to your return, we acknowledge that you come as an all-conquering warrior. May our response be unconditional surrender of all that we have and are to you, that your kingdom may come and your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.

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     Dr. David Currie
     Dean of the Doctor of Ministry Program & the Ockenga Institute;

     Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology




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