'Twas the Night of Christmas

What would happen if we took the poem 'Twas the Night Before Christmas and made it about Israel the night Jesus was born? Here's how I think it could go: 

'Twas the night of Christmas, when all through Israel not a prophet was stirring…

The last Old Testament prophet to prophesy to Israel before the birth of Christ had been Malachi. Only a few individuals had been told of the immediate coming of the Messiah. For the rest of Israel, the voice of the Lord had not been heard in more than four hundred years. 

The priesthood had settled for a long winter’s nap…

In the time before Christ, the office of the high priest had been sold to the highest bidder. The priesthood that belonged to the tribe of Levi had been corrupted. It was bought and sold for political and economic power. The symbol of God’s presence had degenerated into a place of rivalry, greed, and moral degeneration. 

King Herod was nestled snug in his bed, confident that all of his enemies were dead…

King Herod was not from the tribe of David, the line through which God promised to establish a king over Israel forever. King Herod was a paranoid and bloodthirsty tyrant who even killed his own wives and sons to keep the throne. Where was the Messiah that God had promised to David? God had sworn that David’s son would be on the throne forever. 

Israel lay under the blanket of Rome, but the hope of a Messiah still smoldered red...

The Romans had come and conquered Israel. The Jews were subjected to the rule of Gentiles, and there was war between them. Israel’s only hope was to continue believing that one day God would send his promised savior to rescue them from their long captivity and their oppression.

Wise men far away couldn’t sleep for the light of a star shone bright...

Wise men from the east came to Jerusalem,  saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him”...And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. (Matt. 2:1-2, 9-11) ‚Äč

Then shepherds watching their sheep were surprised, By a large group of angels who said the Messiah was coming, in fact, had already arrived! 

And in the same region, there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

   “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:8-14)

Little did Israel know that that very night, in a twinkling, God himself had already come down...

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. (Lk. 2: 1-7) 

'Twas the night of Christmas,

When all through Israel not a prophet was stirring; not even a cat. 

The priesthood had settled for a long winter’s nap.

And King Herod was nestled, all snug in his bed,

confident that all of his enemies were dead;

Israel lay under the blanket of Rome, while the hope of a Messiah smoldered red,

Wise men far away couldn't sleep for the light of a star shone bright;

Then shepherds watching their sheep were surprised, By a large group of angels who said the Messiah was coming, in fact, had already arrived! 

Little did Israel know that that very night, in a twinkling, God himself had already come down.

Photo of Leah Baugh

Leah Baugh

Leah Baugh is Associate Editor of Content at White Horse Inn. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry before turning to theology and receiving a Master of Arts in Biblical Studies and a Master of Arts in Theological Studies. When she's not writing she is learning Chinese or traveling. Connect with Leah on Twitter @lhbaugh

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