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37 | The other Christmas story


Chinatown Dragon

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A few days before Christmas, and my wife and I were out doing my most favorite past-time at Christmas, returning an item we had bought a few days earlier. Hey any time you reduce your credit card bill, it is a step in the right direction.

Anyway, we were driving down a street when we drove past a brightly decorated home. It had a large, inflatable Santa being pulled by reindeer and then I saw in the corner of the yard, secured between two trees, a large six foot, red and green dragon with a Santa cap on its head.

So when did dragons become a Christmas decoration?

Hi my name is Dean Smith and in this podcast I want to talk about the other Christmas story, that no one talks about and it’s odd connection with a story out of Louisiana about a woman whose Christmas display in 2018 also included dragons.

As we read through the Christmas story, recorded in both Matthew and Luke, we envision an idyllic scene.

It’s a peaceful night with a beautiful clear sky showing off an expansive heaven. A bright star silently wafts its way through the night sky followed by three wise men winding their way through the Judean countryside as they follow the star to its final resting place.

Off in the distance, an angelic choir dressed in long white, flowing robes is singly softly in the background and shepherds in the surrounding hills are receiving an angelic visitation announcing the birth of Christ.

Down below Jesus lies tightly wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger in a Bethlehem stable.

It’s calm, serene and peaceful. But don’t let outward appearances fool you, because there is actually a third Biblical account of Jesus’s birth, that provides a description of Christmas from a slightly different perspective.

But before we tell you that story, I must first set the stage with a strange little incident that happened in December 2018 in Louisiana.

As she had done for the previous few years, a woman name Diana Rowland set up a Christmas display that included several inflatable dragons. They were big, human size and Rowland set up a similar display at Halloween.

But last year, Rowland received a complaint from one of her neighbors. According to an article on Buzzfeed, a neighbor left Rowland a note that she then in turn tweeted out:

“Your dragon display is only marginally acceptable at Halloween. It is totally inappropriate at Christmas. It makes your neighbors wonder if you are involved in a demonic cult.

“Please consider removing the dragons.

“May God bless you and help you to know the true meaning of Christmas.”

Anonymous message

After reading the note, Rowland admitted she briefly thought of taking the dragons down, but in the end she actually added more dragons and even put halos on them.

Now I completely understand where the neighbor was coming from. We certainly don’t see a dragon mentioned anywhere in the Christmas story recorded in the Matthew and Luke, but believe it or not, there is a dragon in the other Christmas story recorded in the Book of Revelation, the Apostle John’s vision of the End times:

The Woman, Israel

12 A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars;  and she was with child; and she *cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth.

The Red Dragon, Satan

Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. And his tail *swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.

The Male Child, Christ

And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.

Revelation 12:1-5 NASV

Bible scholars are universally convinced that this description in Revelation refers to the story surrounding the birth of Christ. And in fact, it revealed what was taking place in the spiritual realm behind the idyllic scene portrayed in Matthew and Luke.

But at the beginning of this passage the woman who gave birth to Christ is described as clothed in the sun with the moon under her feet and wearing a crown of 12 stars.

While some Catholic theologians believe this is a reference to Mary giving her almost a god-like appearance, most commentators believe the woman portrayed is Israel because in (Genesis 37:9), Joseph used the same words — sun, moon, stars — to describe the sons of Jacob who would form God’s chosen nation.

But the key here is that the Apostle John was pulling back the veil and revealing what was going on in a spiritual realm as Christ was being born.

And we see an attempt by Satan, pictured as a red dragon, trying to kill Jesus. And John adds that the dragon enticed a third of the angels to join Satan in this assassination attempt.

And I believe at this point, Satan crossed a line in the sand. It was a cataclysmic point in both the spiritual and human history.

Now before this event, we had a very different spiritual world.

The Book of Job provides an overview of how things were working at that time in the heavenly realm. In the first chapter we are told that the sons of God presented themselves before God (Job 1:6). The sons of God, of course, were angels and during this angelic meeting in heaven we read that Satan, who had been out wandering the earth, actually joined this group and made accusations against Job.

At this point, Satan had direct access to God. But when Satan, the dragon, tried to kill Jesus, the Son of God, this was the final act of defiance and God said no more.

The Apostle John describes what happened next after the attempt to kill Christ:

And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

Revelation 12:7-9 NASV

There was a massive spiritual battle raging in the heavenly realm behind that serene scene portrayed in Matthew and Luke, as Satan and his minions were driven from heaven.

The angelic choir often pictured on Christmas cards in their long white, flowig robes holding candles is frankly a bunch of malarkey

The word describing this angelic choir in Luke 2:13 is “host” the Greek word “stratia.”

The Greek word “stratia” does not refer to choir but rather describes an army, a military unit. The same Greek word is used in 2 Corinthians 10:4, when Paul says that the weapons of our “warfare” are mighty. The word warfare is the same Greek word stratia.

The angelic host that appeared at Jesus’s birth was not an angelic choir dressed in long white robes, they were battle-hardened, angelic warriors wearing battered and dented armour. They were not holding candles, but swords, spears and shields.

We see hints of this raging spiritual battle taking place in the background popping up at different moments in the Christmas story.

We see how King Herod ordered the killing of all the boys two years and younger at Bethlehem when the Magi warned by a dream didn’t return to tell Herod, they had found the New King, as Herod had requested. And of course, an angel appeared in a dream telling Joseph to take his family to Egypt to avoid this mass killing.

This was totally in character with Herod. The ancient Jewish historian Josephus tells the story of what happened when King Herod was on his death bed. Herod knew that people hated him and would be glad when he died. To counter, this he ordered the arrest of several prominent Jews and ordered they be killed on Herod’s death, so the Jews would be force to mourn at Herod’s death. He was an evil man easily manipulated by the satanic realm

However, Josephus wryly noted when Herod died, those ordered to kill the Jews no longer had the threat of Herod hanging over them and instead released the Jews and Herod’s death became a time of national celebration.

But as we read these accounts, we also see the ultimate demonstration of the Angelic victory over the satanic realm.

Matthew tells us that magi from the East arrived in Jerusalem looking for the new king of Israel because they had seen a star heralding Christ’s birth.

Who were these magi?

The Greek word “magos” describes a priestly group of astrologers and sorcerers who advised the Kings of Persia and Babylon. In fact, Paul uses the same Greek word “magos” to describe a man by the name Bar-Jesus who was an advisor to the Roman proconsul on the Island of Cyprus in Acts 13.

When Bar-Jesus warned the proconsul to avoid Paul and Barnabas, the Bible says that Paul filled with the Holy Spirit rebuked  Bar-Jesus cursed him with blindness, well at the same time referring to him as the “son of the devil” and “enemy of all righteousness.”

For all intents and purposes these magi worked in the dark and some would describe satanic arts. These were among the leaders of this realm.

So the story of the magi tells us how God pulled out men involved in the dark arts to come and worship Jesus (Matthew 2:11).

It revealed God’s total domination of the demonic realm when men who would be considered the leaders in the dark arts submitted themselves to Christ.

God literally pillaged the satanic realm.

The fact the Bible refers to their expensive gifts as treasure in (Matthew 2:11), speaks to another promise recorded in Isaiah:

I will give you the treasures of darkness
    and the hoards in secret places,
that you may know that it is I, the Lord,
    the God of Israel, who call you by your name.

Isaiah 45:3 ESV

And my final comment about the Christmas display featuring the dragons is this. Dragons are part of the Christmas story, just ditch the halos.

Sources:

 

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