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Merry Christmas! The first Christmas was associated with a season of crisis, much like we are in today. I thank God with all my heart that He is still in control and there is still a light. A dawn will come at the end of this very dark time. We’ll start in Luke 2:8–12 and finish with verse 17. My message is called The Night Before Crisis.

“Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’...Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.”

These people are diligently keeping watch over that which was given into the care of their hands; they’re not in it for themselves. Suddenly, a messenger from God appears, which they never would have expected in those days. The last verse above is about the shepherds, an integral part of the message God has given me to speak on today.

Psalm 30:4–5 says, “Sing praise to the Lord you saints of his and give thanks at the remembrance of his holy name. For his anger is, but for a moment his favor is for life. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Seasons where days grow dark have come and gone many times. However, the light of God, no matter how small, is still there. The psalmist is reminding us to think in the name of God. Even when we reject Him, and our society is in shambles, God’s mercy always triumphs over His judgment.

Like the first Christmas, the story of Uzziah is another example of mercy and joy coming in the morning. 2 Chronicles 3–5 says, “Uzziah was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jecholiah of Jerusalem. And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah had done. He sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God; and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper.”

There was a season under Uzziah where the ways of God and the ways of government were working hand in hand with one another; the blessing of the Lord came upon the nation. He made war against Israel's enemies and protected the young boy’s leadership. Verses 8–10 continue: “Also the Ammonites brought tribute to Uzziah. His fame spread as far as the entrance of Egypt, for he became exceedingly strong. And Uzziah built towers in Jerusalem at the Corner Gate, at the Valley Gate, and at the corner buttress of the wall; then he fortified them. Also he built towers in the desert. He dug many wells, for he had much livestock, both in the lowlands and in the plains; he also had farmers and vinedressers in the mountains and in Carmel, for he loved the soil.” There was incredible prosperity and abundant provision for all the people in the nation.

When we look back on the history of America, we see a similar blessing. God provided fields full of grain and livestock for a nation founded by those who wanted to honor Christ. America has made mistakes, but we’ve always been a nation. God has been able to reason with us and bring us back to truth. Other nations that had been around much longer didn't have the opportunities that America had to develop the kind of fame and power that God gave to this country.

Uzziah had an incredibly skilled army of 307,000 mighty men of war, men of valor. He outfitted these men and invented weapons of war that had never been seen before. Uzziah’s fame spread far and wide as God brought this king to reputation, giving him incredible provision and sound reasoning and thinking. The nation's ways cooperated with the ways of God; the priesthood and the government worked together in unison. Uzziah was marvelously helped until he became strong. Scripture says that the king’s heart was lifted to his destruction. Uzziah started to believe that he could change the laws of God and somehow not suffer a consequence personally or nationwide. Uzziah entered the temple and began doing what God had strictly forbidden in the scriptures.

We are far too familiar with turning away from God in America. We have arrogantly redefined the things that God has clearly defined in scripture, like the sexuality of our children and marriage. All of these laws have been passed against righteousness, starting to impugn the Word of God as hate speech. There’s even a new AI Bible being forced on our society, reestablishing or redefining the Word of God to fit a social agenda. What absolute nonsense to think that we can do these things and somehow escape the justice of God that came upon previous societies. I've always said the one thing we learned from history is that we don't learn from history.

Uzziah went into the temple and attempted to do what he had been forbidden to do, but valiant men went in and said he had to leave. They told him judgment would be brought upon him and weaken the nation. Scripture says Uzziah became angry against the Word of God.

Does this sound like America? We're furious as a society against the Word of God that tells us certain things can't be done without a consequence. We want to set our judgment above the Word and the judgment of God and say, “No.” We're going right back into the Garden of Eden when Satan himself came in and infused a thought into the hearts of our first parents, Adam and Eve. He told them you can be godly without God; you don’t need God to tell you what is right and wrong. It’s a dangerous place to be when we believe we no longer need the God who helped us—who saved us.

When Uzziah stretched out his hand against them, leprosy broke out on his forehead. This man was diseased in his mind, and the manifestation of his spiritual mental disease came to his skin. It was the thought that he could exalt himself above the knowledge of God. Uzziah thought that his success would mean that God would have no problem with his actions and that he could now govern himself. Because of Uzziah’s leprosy, he had to be hidden from the people. This tragedy is what happens to nations that set themselves above the Word and wisdom of God; you end up with a leader diseased in the mind that has to be secluded. Those were dark days in Israel under King Uzziah, and then he died.

Isaiah 6:1 says, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple.” While Israel's hope was seemingly lost for the nation ever returning to what it used to be, God was moving. There's still a light at the end of the tunnel. Unbeknownst to most of the nation, the Lord has drawn a young man into his presence. While the people are crying out in the darkness, the prophet Isaiah is doing his best to serve and live for God. When Isaiah comes into the presence of God, the first thing he sees is the holiness of God, the otherness of God.

Maybe you find yourself being strangely drawn into the presence of God, and you're becoming aware that everything in you apart from Him falls short of His glory. A heart like that, like Isaiah’s, is what can save us. If God is going to raise a voice in this generation, it will not be one steeped in religion. God told Isaiah He was going to use him to speak through him. You'll have a panoramic view of my plan on the earth, but before this ministry begins, I need you to understand this partnership. It's all about me. It's all about my mercy. God says it's my message and not yours. It's my strength and not yours. You'll see your unworthiness to be in my presence, but I'll cleanse you with my mercy. Although the message will include justice and judgment, it will be wrapped in a blanket of mercy. That foundation of mercy will carry you because you have understood what you are without my presence. God told Isaiah he would commission him to go to a people with hardened hearts against the truth. Many would not be able to hear his voice, but some would. It all begins with one man that God draws into His presence.

Psalms 30:5 says, “Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.” The people of Uzziah’s day cried out, just as in the days of Paul in Acts 27 and when Jonah’s boat sank. How does God respond? Mercy. God responded to the cry and gave the people of Jerusalem another righteous reign under a new king, Jotham, who was 25 years old. The mercy moment lasted 16 years, and then another leader came and brought them back into an even deeper place of evil. But by God's grace, 16 years were given to the nation. It’s the prayer I have for our country.

In Luke 2, when it was dark, the Roman Empire overthrew the promised land. The people were in a similar situation to what we're in today. They were supposed to be virtuous, righteous people but were overthrown by a foreign way of thinking. When we abandon truth, that's what can happen to a nation. When I read Luke 2, I think of how hard and dark that day was when people were being herded like cattle all over the place just for the point of counting them and taxing them. It would've been so confusing, but God had a plan. He appeared to the shepherds and gave the message of His coming. He bypassed the religious elite of the day, who were using their theology for comfort. He skipped those giving out more questions than answers to the people. The Lord entered the field and found these people, caring for those things put under their hands. God gave them the message of this child, Jesus Christ, His plan of redemption on earth. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for everything they'd seen and heard.

Thank God that in these last days, He will give His people shepherds again after His heart. The days of the religious circus in America are over. Oh God, have mercy on us. We deserve your judgment for what we have done, what we've allowed to happen to our children, and the aberrant theology in your house. If justice is coming to this nation or the whole world, let there be a moment of mercy that precedes it. Give us a season where people can still cry out, turn to you, and find you as their Lord and Savior. Help us see your plan amid the darkness. Make it known that we are in the night before a crisis. Come to us like you did on that first Christmas night. Father God, in Jesus' name, bring the message of your redemption, power, compassion, and eternal Heaven. We thank and praise that Jesus is still in control of everything. Have a wonderful Christmas.

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