Silent Night (Advent: Day 8)

On Christmas Eve in the year 1818, St. Nicholas Church in Oberndorf, Austria was preparing for the Christmas Eve service. Much to everyone’s dismay, the organ wouldn’t work! The young priest, Joseph Mohr was scrambling to think of what to do. The hour was getting late, and he remembered a poem he had written two years before. He took the poem to the choir director, Franz Xaver, and asked him if he could write music to the lyrics that would fit with a guitar accompaniment. Franz quickly got to work, and the choir sang Silent Night, Holy Night (Stille Nacht Heilige Nacht) at the midnight service accompanied by Father Mohr on the guitar. Since that time, Silent Night has become one of the most loved carols of all time and is translated into hundreds of languages.

Silent night, holy night! All is calm, all is bright. ‘Round yon virgin mother and child. Holy Infant so tender and mild, sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace.

SILENT NIGHT verse 1

Today I want to take you back to the story of Gideon. The people of God had sinned and were greatly oppressed by the Midianites.

The Midianites were so cruel that the Israelites made hiding places for themselves in the mountains, caves, and strongholds. Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, marauders from Midian, Amalek, and the people of the east would attack Israel, camping in the land and destroying crops as far away as Gaza. They left the Israelites with nothing to eat, taking all the sheep, goats, cattle, and donkeys. These enemy hordes, coming with their livestock and tents, were as thick as locusts; they arrived on droves of camels too numerous to count. And they stayed until the land was stripped bare. So Israel was reduced to starvation by the Midianites. Then the Israelites cried out to the Lord for help.

Judges 6:2-6 (NLT)

When God raised up Gideon to deliver Israel from the hand of Midian, we find Gideon threshing wheat at the bottom of a wine press trying to hide the grain from the Midianites. The Angel of the LORD appeared to him saying, “Mighty hero, the LORD is with you!” (Judges 6:12 NLT). I’m sure Gideon was surprised and looked around saying, “Who, me?” I believe the appearance of the Angel of the LORD in the Old Testament is none other than Jesus Christ Himself! Gideon doesn’t realize at first Who he is talking to (he knows it’s a heavenly being).

22 When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the LORD, he cried out, “Oh, Sovereign LORD, I’m doomed! I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!” 23 “It is all right,” the LORD replied. “Do not be afraid. You will not die.” 24 And Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and named it Yahweh-Shalom (which means “the LORD is peace”). The altar remains in Ophrah in the land of the clan of Abiezer to this day. (Judges 6:22-24 NLT)

I love how the Angel of the LORD (Jesus) tells Gideon “the LORD is with you.” Gideon commemorated the moment with an altar to Jehovah Shalom, the LORD is peace. When Emmanuel is with us, we have peace! Peace with God is inherent in the many prophecies of Christ in the Old Testament.

For a Child will be born to us, a Son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of armies will accomplish this.

Isaiah 9:6-7 (NASB)

Zechariah (the father of John the Baptist) gave this prophecy of the Messiah at John’s birth:

“Because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high will visit us, 79 to shine on those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:78-79 NLT).

When the angels announced the good news of Jesus’ birth, they said “Glory to God in the highest! Peace on earth, goodwill toward men”(Luke 2:14 KJV).

The peace of that silent night represents the peace we can have with God because of Christ’s coming. J.I. packer said, “The peace of God is first and foremost peace with God; it is the state of affairs in which God, instead of being against us, is for us.” Jesus accomplished this for us on the cross (see Colossians 1:20).

If you know Him today, you have peace with God. Jesus IS your peace! (Ephesians 2:14). Even though we have this positional peace with God, we don’t always experience His peace in our hearts because of sin. Colossians 3:15 says to “let the peace of Christ RULE in your heart.” Peace ruling is almost like a referee calling a game. As soon as we get our eyes off Jesus, the Holy Spirit blows the whistle in our hearts! At that moment, we must run back to the cross, admitting what we’re not and confessing our sin to Him. When we come to Jesus with a surrendered heart, He relieves our anxiety and guards our hearts and minds with His peace (see Philippians 4:6-7).

Have you experienced peace with God by knowing Jesus personally? If so, is your heart being guarded by the Prince of Peace today?


Advent Reflections:

1 Read Isaiah 54:10. What do you learn about God and His covenant?

2 Read Isaiah 52:7. What do you learn about the Gospel of peace?

3 Read Isaiah 26:3-4. What practical advice can you get from these verses if you feel anxious or afraid? How does this passage relate to Philippians 4:6-8?

4 Based on Romans 8:5-6, what does a mindset on the Spirit give us?

5 Read John 14:27 and 16:33. How does the Prince of Peace encourage your heart through these verses?

Click here to watch Silent Night being performed by a classical guitarist on YouTube.

Click here to watch a choral version sung by the Concordia College choir on YouTube.

Click here to watch a short history of Silent Night on YouTube.

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