Mt Sinai (Law) and Mt Zion (Grace)

Mt Sinai (Law) and  Mt Zion (Grace)
Mt Sinai (Law) and Mt Zion (Grace)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas - God's Promise Fulfilled

We have commercialized Christmas so much, that in the United States the "politically correct" mindset has made it unpopular to focus on the birth of Jesus of Nazareth this season. I want to make Jesus the subject and center of this blog.

The Bible which is a revelation of God to man, clearly centers around the Messiah. In the Old Testament the promise of a redeemer that would come to break down the barriers between God and man. In the New Testament we see Jesus as the Christ (anointed of God) and the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament.

When God created man (male and female), he gave them dominion of the planet earth, Genesis 1:26-27.

Through deception from the evil one, Adam and Eve disobeyed God and lost their home in Eden and their dominion was temporarily stolen by Satan.

God promised that he would send the "seed of the woman" who would bruise the head of the serpent (possessed by Satan). This was the first mention in the Bible of a coming Messiah who also have His heel bruised by Satan, Genesis 3:15.

Because sin brings death, God sacrificed animals and made protective clothes for Adam and Eve when they had to leave the garden. This was a 2 fold purpose: the blood covered their sin so they did not have to die, but now do sacrifice; and the skins of the animals made them a covering to protect them from the fierce elements (6000 years ago was the close of the ice age), Genesis 3:21.

Satan did all he could to kill every one that he thought might be this promised "seed of the woman" starting with Abel and through out the Old Testament the prophets of God and those who lived by faith, Genesis 4, Hebrews 11: ..32-40.

God reaffirmed his promise and spoke through His prophets. In 700 BC through Isaiah 7:14; Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign: Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son and shall call his name Immanuel (God in the flesh).

In God's time, He sent the Archangel Gabriel to deliver His Word to Mary, a Virgin who was espoused to Joseph, Luke 1:26-38

Mary who was devout and loved God greatly, replied, let it be done to me according to Thy Word. So the very seed of the woman was conceived in the womb of the Holy virgin and became the Word of God made flesh, John 1:1.

Needless to say, Joseph was a little put out when Mary began to show. But, God again sent Gabriel to Joseph in a dream to tell Joseph that this was God's son, and to not be afraid to take Mary as his wife, Matthew 2:1-15.

God caused world circumstances to put Joseph and very expectant Mary to be in Bethlehem at the time Mary was to deliver, Luke 2:1-20. All the Inn's were full and one innkeeper let them bed down in his stable.


In Micah 5:2 in 730 BC; But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth unto Me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from old from everlasting.
So in a humble stable the savior of all mankind was born.


Both Mary and Joseph were descendants of King David. Joseph through the Kingly line of Solomon (Matthew 1) and Mary from David's son Nathan (Luke 3). This fulfilled the Bible prophecies that the Messiah would come from David.

God sent his angels to tell the local shepherds that their Messiah had been born and now there could be peace on earth between God and man, Luke 2:8-14. They went to see the Divine Baby and rejoiced.


God set up signs in the heavens that proclaimed the birth of the Messiah. The Magi from the East had seen these and knew from ancient teachings that the King of the Jews had been born. They assembled their guard and caravan and headed West to bring gifts and to worship the Child, Matthew 2:1-15.


Apparently the innkeeper brought the Holy Family into his house by the time the Magi had arrived. They had been on a long journey and caused an uproar in Jerusalem when they asked Governor Herod where the King of the Jews was born. God led them to the Child and they were able to deliver their gifts and worship Him.



For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting father, The Prince of Peace, Isaiah 9:6.
This was fulfilled in the birth and life of Jesus the Christ.



Today people still go to the place Jesus was born to honor and worship him. The Church of the Nativity is the oldest church and is in Bethlehem.



One man, God in the flesh, born 2000 years ago, has impacted the world more than anyone ever has or ever will. He by His life, death, and resurrection, brought us the redemption that God had promised. Under the salvation that only comes through Him we can be victorious over the works of the devil and live life abundantly, John 3:16, 10:10, 14:6.

HISTORY

The first followers of Jesus were persecuted greatly. Although Jesus was a Hebrew and from the tribe of Judah, so Jewish, His own religion rejected Him. But, His church grew under the persecution. The Roman government persecuted the church for they wanted all to worship their Emperor. The worst recorded was under the Roman Emperor Nero. 

The Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (306-337) converted to Christianity. Before the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312 he saw a sign of a cross in the sky. He had all his Roman troops put the chi rho (X over P) on their shields which is the first two letters of Christ in Greek. They won the battle. The chi rho is still used in the Catholic Church.

Constantine the Great abolished crucifixion for piety sake (hanging replaced executions). He worked hard in his reign to make Christianity the State Religion. In 313 the Edict of Milan officially stopped religious persecution. It is unsure when he converted to Christianity, but was baptized in his 40's.

The earliest mention of Christmas occurs in a Roman calendar in 336. Constantine the Great probably had a hand in the celebration of Christ's birth as a State event. Some believe that he probably changed the celebration of the Winter Solstice to the Christ Mass or Christmas. Constantine the Great is a Saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church and considered a Christian Monarch.

Regardless of all of the elements that came together in its evolution, the world celebrates Christmas as the birth of Jesus Christ and has for many centuries. It is not specifically a Holy day that God says we are to observe, but I have no doubt that His hand was on the celebration of His Son's birth.

GIVING GIFTS

The first Christmas we see the Magi (Wise Men) bringing gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the Christ Child. Jesus gave His own life at the will of God for the redemption of mankind. This is truly the greatest gift that was ever given. God practiced his own law of sowing and reaping. By giving His son, He received not only Jesus resurrected, but millions of souls for His Kingdom.


We at Christmas exchange gifts in remembrance of the gift of Jesus to us.

One Holy man in the 4th century was the Bishop of Myra (Turkey) who was known for his love of children and generosity. He gave many gifts. He is known as Saint Nicholas.
In Dutch he is known as Sinterklaas from which we get Santa Claus.
He became a symbol of gift giving. In the 16th century in Europe the name was changed to the Christ Child as the gift giver or Christ Kindle. The English word was altered to Kris Kringle. However in the 1880's Santa Claus had evolved to the sleigh driving lovable character we have today.

We need to keep Jesus Christ and His wonderful birth as the heart of Christmas. I do not believe that the actual history of Santa Claus goes against the meaning of Christmas, but is a symbol of giving if so taught to our children.

May the blessings of the miracle of Christmas touch you and yours this season.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

All of the art used here was available on the Internet.


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