Posts Tagged ‘Bethlehem’

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

Chapter 12

Samuel had originally anointed David, with the minimum of fuss, at Bethlehem at the very place where his descendant Jesus would one day be born and worshipped by wise men as the King of kings. David was then anointed again in the sight of all Israel and Judah at Hebron.

Along with the rest of David’s family, Absalom was given pride of place in this ceremony.

He played games, as every six year old does to relive the exciting event that he had just witnessed. In fact for months afterward he relived the whole scene in his mind or played with his brothers and cousins until they grew sick of the game. He acted out the part of his father, making a covenant with all of Israel and Judah. The two kingdoms finally becoming one. All the people liked him and he was being anointed as king. He could still hear the crowds roar their approval and he was intoxicated by the adoration again and again.

At six years of age, Absalom determined that one day he would be king. The crowds would come from all over Israel to watch as he was anointed with the holy oil mixed especially to pour over kings. He would ride in a chariot with hundreds of soldiers running alongside. He would dress in purple wearing Asahel’s dagger at his side. Everyone would admire him and bow down to him and they would listen and do everything he said. Yes, one day he would be king.

MATTHEW 2 – STILL THE GREATEST QUEST THIS CHRISTMAS

Following the Star

Following the Star

One Christmas when our kids were young, we decided to re-enact the Christmas story. I painted a background scene and we each played a part, dressing up as Shepherds one minute and Magi the next. We had towels on our head and the angels – Julie and her sister – were dressed in white sheets. We narrated the story and improvised. We had a big star that hung from the ceiling and a manger with a doll, instead of a Christmas tree, an old fence with paintings of animals hanging over the side. I also painted a picture of Mary and Joseph onto some cardboard and borrowed some old lamps. We split our sides laughing sometimes but at certain moments as Rachel our daughter held the Christ child (her doll) in her arms, we also felt the presence of God as the story found it’s way through the events of Jesus birth. Our re-created stable had a manger with gifts all around it (that year the Magi were particularly generous with more than 3 gifts). We opened the gifts that year with an acknowledgement that the greatest gift of all was found lying in a manger and ended with a birthday cake for Jesus. For me, that’s my greatest Christmas memory.

In the real Christmas story, Matthew 2 starts off with Magi searching for a king. Who are these guys? We don’t know if there were 2 or 40 of them. We do know they gave 3 gifts. Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh, gifts for a king. Some people trace them back to Daniel 5:11 and I like to think that their journey to Bethlehem was because of the ancient writings of Daniel, which we no longer have. Perhaps he left a legacy that led them to Jesus. His Godly wisdom and insights from days gone by to Persian Magi, sent these men on a quest to find the Messiah.

What was the star that moved across the sky? Was it a comet or supernova? I like to think that it was the Shekinah glory that had once led the Israelites through the wilderness in the days of Moses that appeared in the sky as a sign of the Saviours birth, and led them to humblest of places – a humble house in Bethlehem. You wouldn’t expect to find a King in a place like Bethlehem. It has to be God impressing upon us that His rulership doesn’t depend upon the lavish palaces build by such kings as Herod.

Matthew cites an ancient prophecy in relation to Jesus birth.

“And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah; are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; for out of you shall come forth a ruler, who will shepherd My people Israel.”

Christ is pictured as a powerful ruler but also as a caring shepherd. He is all powerful and able to accomplish all He purposes for your life. He is a caring and loving shepherd who acts with grace in our lives. So different to king Herod, whose reputation for brutality was renowned.

Herod was a descendant of Esau, an Edomite, and he was a cruel and ruthless king. History tells us that he even murdered his own wife and 3 of his sons because he was suspicious of them taking over his kingdom. The man was insane! It was said that it was better to be Herod’s sow (pig) than Herod’s son, but you wouldn’t say that to his face. A pig would not be slaughtered because Jewish people saw pigs as unclean. But Herod’s own sons were slaughtered. Such merciless power is not unusual in the East, even in our own day. He said he wanted to go and worship the Messiah but his brutality in killing the infants in Bethlehem shows what measures he went to in order to maintain his authority over the Jews.

When an angel told Joseph to escape to Egypt, he and Mary probably used the gold, frankincense and myrrh as trade to Egyptian merchants. They would be worth a great deal of money in Egypt where they used these things for embalming the dead.

God bless you as you seek Jesus this Christmas and find Him in the most unexpected places and in the humblest of settings and as you celebrate His birth, bring Him the very best of your worship.

Pastor Ross

Matthew 2:1-23 – COLLATERAL DAMAGE AT CHRISTMAS

Collateral Damage at Christmas

Collateral Damage at Christmas

TWO YOUNG RADIO JOURNALISTS in Australia make a prank call to the King Edward VII Hospital where Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, was being treated for acute morning sickness. They pretend to be Prince Charles and Queen Elizabeth. A young nurse, Saldanha, takes the call and unknowingly passes the phone to another employee who provides personal information about Kate to the pranksters. Some days later Saldanha is found dead, having taken her own life due to the furor caused by this event. An aftermath of devastating proportion. Never intended!

A bomb explodes in Syria. The term “COLLATERAL DAMAGE” is used on the TV. It is a cold term and seems to seek to insulate those involved from any feelings of moral responsibility. The military authorities speak of wanting to minimize collateral damage of innocent civilians and speak of it in terms of PERCENTAGES, not lives lost. “UNINTENTIONAL” is a keyword. Collateral damage is damage that was NOT INTENDED but somehow expected as necessary to get the job done. One person’s collateral damage is another person’s son. A mother suffers the unbearable grief over the loss of her children. We see her on the news weeping and wailing.

When the wise men see King Herod they never intend to cause harm to innocent children. They couldn’t have foreseen that he would react to the birth of Jesus in such a violent, unpredictable way. After finding Christ, God warns them in a dream not to return to Herod and they return to their own country using another route.

An intelligence report from the Lord in a dream alerts Joseph of Herod’s intentions to kill Jesus. Joseph and Mary have to get their boy out of harm’s way, and the Lord gives them a contingency plan on the run. It is as if Jesus was trapped behind enemy lines, so God conducts a “rescue at any cost” operation for Jesus by getting Joseph and Mary to flee to Egypt. He needs a quick recovery extraction by friendly elements.

On that first Christmas, we tend to skip over the collateral damage inflicted on Bethlehem by King Herod’s rage when Christ was born. He slaughtered all the male babies 2 years and under of Bethlehem in an effort to eliminate Christ’s birth causing a problem to his reign. Herod saw it as collateral damage! Necessary to achieve his objective! Necessary to get the job done! And Matthew 2:18 (NLT) speaks of “A cry heard in Ramah— weeping and great mourning. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted, for they are dead”

But Herod’s rage was the fruit of the ongoing collateral damage inflicted on the human race when Adam sinned by disobeying God way back in Genesis 3. But listen to Romans 5:8-10 (NLT). It says “But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, He will certainly save us from (the direct strike of) God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of His Son while we were still His enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of His Son.”

Herod’s sin reaped its consequences. Our sin always reaps a harvest of unexpected, unintentional, collateral suffering and pain. Romans 6:23 (NLT) says “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Spiritual death. No peace with God.

The innocent Son of God came into the world. 33 years later He died for the collateral damage produced by our sin. All of us have the opportunity to have peace with God and live under His promises and He is giving you that invitation today. All of us have the opportunity today to receive forgiveness, peace with God and the gift of eternal life this Christmas by believing in Christ. The Saviour was sent into enemy territory to extract us from the firestorm. The message of Christmas, endorsed by an army of angels to certain poor shepherds, is that the Saviour of the world has come, King of kings, Lord of Lords and Prince of peace. Collateral Healing and Hope!

Pastor Ross

See also this excellent article https://theriverwalk.org/2017/12/14/25-songs-of-christmas-14-o-little-town/