A dead language was dying all over in my post-college brain, so I guiltily blew the dust off a few cells and dived in to save it. Virgil wrote his poetry in Latin, so I read it thus. Suddenly, a passage cried out off the page to me from 40 B.C.
“…The Golden Age is here
Once more Kind Saturn reigns, and from high heaven descends
The first born child of promise…
The age of iron in his time shall cease
And golden generations fill the world.
For thee, Fair Child, the lavish Earth shall spread
Thy earliest playthings, trailing ivy wreaths,
And wild acanthus smiling in the sun…
The goats shall come uncalled weighed down with milk.
Nor lion’s roar affright the laboring kine.
The treacherous snake and deadly herb shall die
The field shall thrive unharrowed, vines unpruned.
And stalwart ploughmen set their oxen free.
Wool shall not need the dyers skillful art…
But lambs be clothed in scarlet as they feed!
Come then, dear child of gods, Jove’s mighty heir
Begin thy high career; the hour is sounding
See, in the dawning of a new creation
The heart of all things living throbs with joy!”
Ideas do not have the boundaries of time. Where did Virgil’s thoughts come from? How could anyone know that? But his words sound like those of an ancient, revered poet named Isaiah 700 hundreds years prior to the Roman.
“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse,
And a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD…
And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.
The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together:
And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp,
And the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people…”
Similar writing styles? Maybe. Similar topic? Surely. Same idea? Definitely.
How fascinating to realize that far away in Rome a young man, probably untouched by Jewish culture and traditions, a basic heathen to the people’s of Palestine, would have a keen awareness of the impending arrival of the Messiah. What a wonderful thought. He knew. God impressed upon him, too, though he was not “one of the prophets.” Sure, he used pagan references like “King Saturn reigns” but that’s a poetic phrase to describe the “good old days,” similar to the Jewish people’s reminisces about their great Abraham. And this “Jove’s mighty heir” would be His Son, any way you spin it.
It’s Christmas and we ought to know why. God did send his Son as a human to walk among mankind and it just so happens to be the day to rejoice in that! Among many others, a deeply religious man and a Roman poet alike, saw it coming, spinning down through time.
I don’t know about you, but for me, this overwhelms me. It has always been God’s plan to come to earth for the salvation of all mankind. He’s whispered to the hearts of many poets across time and planet and now, He’s here.
Burning fire down to embers,
Leaning on an elbow, then hand,
Quiet starry night brings rest to the members
Of the herdsmen together in band.
Light flashes through the sky!
Leaping, falling to the knees then feet,
Elbow and hand now shield the eye.
To the herdsmen a voice did speak.
“Fear not, for behold I bring you information,
Tidings of great joy to all people, this chord:
For unto you is born this day, in this nation
a Savior which is Christ the Lord!”
Such breathtaking music tore the sky!
Rushing, running, feet then feet
Excitement gleamed in every eye
The herdsmen the otherworld words did repeat.
But it is here and it is now!
The Savior came for you and me.
We don’t know all the “why,” the “how”
But He came here, to let the blind see.
Can’t you see it, my friend?
You are the blind. Now can you see?
He wants to bring an end
To the confusion of death and misery.
No more Predator slays prey.
Heaven’s doors are op’ed for you.
No more is slaving the way.
Naught but love and joy grew.
“Where is this place?” you say.
Your heart wonders and wanders
“I want to know the way!”
Jesus speaks to the Ponders:
“I am the way, the truth, and the life
No man comes to the Father but by me”
He severs the bands of a heart of strife
I know, because I am now free.
This “peace on earth”
This “goodwill towards men”
You now just see a dearth
Just open your eyes, then.
It’s here and now, inside hearts
No “treacherous snake or deadly herb”
You can have all the best and perfect parts
Because God sent his Son to earth.