America's Christian History

Over In Old Bethlehem

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Over In Old Bethlehem

A Story for Christmas



And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, 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, good will toward men.  And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.  Luke 2:9-15 


The old man settled back against the boulder behind him.  He was exhausted and exhilarated at the same time.  He had lived a long time, knew his days were numbered, and he was satisfied.  The Psalmist worded it perfectly: "So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom."

Many years ago he’d learned that wisdom came from the old scriptures his cousin Zachariah talked about all the time.  No one in their village was allowed to forget that Zachariah’s son would be the first prophet of God in four hundred years; nor that John would be the one to herald the coming of their long awaited messiah.  Isaac had no doubts whatsoever that the powerful expression of the angels of God who sang so beautifully of the birth of their messiah (as the scene flashed on his mind again he gave a great sigh of pleasure and a smile spread over his face) - that this powerful expression of the angels preceded the "heralding" that Zachariah had preached about throughout their village, and would be done by his son, John.  John’s birth wasn’t exactly the usual kind either:


And there appeared unto Zacharias an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when he saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.  But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.  And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. Luke 1:11-14


"Let’s see," he thought as he raised his weary hand to scratch his head, "John would be about - well, at least three months old.  Got a long way to go to be a prophet.  Wonder what Zachariah’s doing tonight."

Isaac’s head nodded.  The concert the angels had given along with the amazing announcement of the angels was almost too much for an old man.  He was glad to remain behind to watch the sheep while the younger men rushed off to the village inn.  He knew exactly where that was and could imagine the scene.  But "lying in a manger!"  Of all places for a king to be born!  That was a strange thought.  He’d have to ask Zachariah what he thought of that.  And "wait ‘til I tell Sarah what I’ve seen tonight!"  His thoughts rambled on and bits and pieces of Scripture floated through his mind.  "Sure would like to see that young’n," he finally whispered to himself.  "But I’m glad for the young fellas to be able to see - I can hardly say the words, they are so magnificent - see the infant King David.  Wonder if he’ll spend his time out in the meadows like that young shepherd-king did.  What a soldier he grew up to be!  Ahhh," he let out a long, heavy sigh, "How long we’ve waited."

He must have dozed for the next thing he saw were the first streaks of dawn and not far away he could hear voices.  "The boys are returning," he thought.

And, sure enough, there they were, coming up over that little rise between him and the town.

"Papa!" exclaimed the first one in sight.  "Papa Isaac, you, too must go into the village and see our new king!"  Isaac smiled as he saw the young fellow’s chest and head rise with the joy of having actually been given an “interview” with the King of Kings.

"I am old, son.  And a walk to the village would take a long time for me.  Besides, Sarah is waiting for me.  She’ll have a warm bowl of milk and bread waiting for me.  I should....."

But his fellow shepherds would have it no other way.

"You’ve spent the night out here so we could go.  Now it’s your turn.  We’ve heard you talk of almost nothing but the coming of our Messiah for years.  It’s time now for you to see him."

"A couple of us will go with you because by this time there will surely be a lot of villagers standing in line to see the babe.  The excitement in the village is mighty high what with the innkeeper’s report and our own spreading the good news."

"Yes," another spoke up, "this is a night to be celebrated by everyone.  You must go, Papa."

And so they went, whether on a camel or a donkey or in a cart I know not.  This I know: no one in all that area died happier than old Papa Isaac.  And his wife Sarah who, of course, had heard the story over and over and over again..... just as you and I have!


Over In Old Bethlehem

Over in old Bethlehem many years ago

Mary had a little child and, oh, she loved him so;

She softly sang a lullaby to her Saviour, Lord, and king:

The He took a cross to save my soul,

That's why this song I sing:


Hallelujah, Jesus, praise the great I Am,

Hallelujah, Jesus, praise the sacrificial Lamb,

Hallelujah, Jesus, I want to be your own,

Hallelujah, Jesus, I want to sing around your throne.


Shepherds came to worship him, wise men also came,

They brought their gifts of praise and gold

In honor of his name;

From far and near men came to him

And they found he was The Way-

Just as wise men still seek out the Christ

Who gave his life away.


Hallelujah, Jesus, praise the great I Am,

Hallelujah, Jesus, praise the sacrificial Lamb,

Hallelujah, Jesus, praise your holy name,

Hallelujah, Jesus, I'm so very glad you came.


And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child, And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. (Luke 2:16-18).


In the Fullness of Time

In the fullness of time

Incarnate He came, 

Came Christ to a manger’s stall.

The skies burst their bounds 

As the angels came down 

To attend the birth of their King:


Oh, glorious, glorious, glorious birth;

The King of all king’s come to earth. 


They took our great king,

On a cross He was hung;

For the sins of the world He was slain;

But He rose the third day

From the tomb where He lay,

Now He’s reigning in heaven again:


Oh, glorious, glorious, glorious day, 

He arose to give life to His own. 


In the fullness of time,

Victorious He’ll come,

He’ll come at the trumpet’s sound;

The heavens he’ll rend 

As the angels descend: 

Once more they’re attending their king;

“Oh, victorious, victorious, 

victorious,” they’ll sing,

He’s coming again for his own. 


But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.  And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. Galatians 4:4


That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: Ephesians 1:10


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