Posts Tagged ‘Gifts’

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

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Genesis 27:30-38 – WHAT ABOUT ME?

What About Me?

What About Me?

No presents were opened until my father-in-law came to the tree. He was the revered head of the family and it was his responsibility to cut the meat, say grace at meals, and hand out the presents on Christmas day. The anticipation for the kids was enormous. Everyone received a gift. The atmosphere of family was palpable.

To continue with the Christmas analogy, it’s as if Isaac decides that Esau would be the only one to receive a gift that year. It’s as if Esau says “I’ve been nice. I’ve prepared the Christmas dinner. Now give me my present, Santa.” In Genesis 27:31 (NLT) Esau’s approach to his father is self-interested and direct. “It’s Esau, your firstborn son. I’ve done as you told me. Here is the wild game. Now sit up and eat it so you can give me your blessing.”” 

Esau has already given away his birthright but he was desperate to receive his father’s blessing. As binding as a legal document, it will activate and bestow leadership, a double portion of the inheritance and spiritual responsibility upon his son. Financially the best Christmas present he could ask for.

Isaac says “Then who just served me wild game? I have already eaten it, and I blessed him just before you came. And yes, that blessing must stand!”” (Genesis 27:33 NLT). The question is rhetorical. Intuitively, both of them know who has received the blessing. Both of them know for whom it was intended, but when it dawns on Isaac that he has been tricked, he’s so shocked by the implications that he trembles uncontrollably. He can’t take back the blessing

It all makes sense to Isaac now. His suspicions have now been verified too late. “Your brother was here, and he tricked me. He has taken away your blessing”” (Genesis 27:35 NLT). It was never really Esau’s gift to have anyway. Esau is devastated. Genesis 27:34 (NLT) says “When Esau heard his father’s words, he let out a loud and bitter cry. “Oh my father, what about me? Bless me, too!” he begged.”

“What about me?” The cry of one who sold his birthright and forfeited the blessing that was passed down from Abraham. The cry of many who want God to answer their prayers but don’t want to come under His authority in any way. In Genesis 27:36 (NLT) Esau exclaims, “No wonder his name is Jacob, for now he has cheated me twice. First he took my rights as the firstborn, and now he has stolen my blessing. Oh, haven’t you saved even one blessing for me?” The “CHEAT” and the “VICTIM” (“Jacob” means “Cheat”. Who names their son “Cheat”??)

Isaac realises that the blessing he has given is fairly comprehensive. In Genesis 27:37 (NLT) Isaac says “I have made Jacob your master and have declared that all his brothers will be his servants. I have guaranteed him an abundance of grain and wine—what is left for me to give you, my son?”

That’s when the big man breaks down and cries. This was something he had really wanted from his father, even if he didn’t really include God in his life. Genesis 27:38 (NLT) says “Esau pleaded, “But do you have only one blessing? Oh my father, bless me, too!” Then Esau broke down and wept” (See Hebrews 12:14-17).

Like the rest of his family, Esau wants to divert or change God’s purposes. He wants God’s blessing but wants to do as he pleases. (Gal. 5:16-24). What stops Isaac from taking back this blessing when he discovers the deception? Why is this blessing not pronounced null and void? It seems that Isaac finally realises that his desire to bless Esau instead of Jacob is wrong (Genesis 27:33f). Abraham’s blessing is not withdrawn but endorsed.

It was wrong for Isaac to secretly seek to bless Esau with the blessing God intended for Jacob. It was wrong for Rebecca to seek to bring about God’s will by deceptive means. It was wrong for Jacob to seek to impersonate someone else and expect to be blessed. It is wrong for Esau to try to change God’s purposes. Let’s face it, we are all dysfunctional because of our sin, but God turns cursing to blessing. Fortunately Christ came to die for our sin. All of us have the opportunity to have peace with God and live under His promises. All of us have the opportunity today to receive forgiveness and the gift of eternal life this Christmas by believing in Christ. It’s interesting to think that God’s promises are offered in the midst of our sin to bring us forgiveness and reconciliation to God. The Abrahamic blessing is designed to bring a Saviour into the world through whom the world would be blessed. He was born into our dysfunctional world and we celebrate His birthday this Christmas. Happy Christmas!

Pastor Ross