31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 1 – God’s answer to man’s sin

dovepeaceatchristmas

I hope you will join me in the 31 days of December, to take a look at the Christmas story and season in a slightly different way.  Jesus and the true meaning of Christmas are woven throughout the entire Bible – from the beginning in Genesis to the resurrection of Jesus as told by the apostle John some 4000 years later.

 

Genesis 3:15
I will put hostility between you and the woman,
and between your seed and her seed.
He will strike your head,
and you will strike his heel.

This is the first sign of hope that God gives us.  Adam and Eve have just sinned by rebelling against God, and sin is now introduced into the world and humankind.  God curses Satan for it.  “Your seed” refers to Satan and unbelievers who are called the devil’s children in John 8:44.  “Her seed” refers to Christ, a descendent of Eve through the virgin Mary, and includes believers in Christ.  This first prophecy of a Savior to come says that Satan will strike Jesus’ heel, but Jesus will give the final blow to Satan’s head and destroy him.

In verse 13 of Genesis 3, God asks Eve what she has done.  In verse 14, God curses the serpent, and in just one verse later in Genesis 3:15, God provides a way for redemption and hope.  God has never left us without hope!  It is evident even when reading from one verse to the next in the Bible.  Through all the suffering that sin has brought into our world, God has always and will continue to always offer a way of hope for those who seek it.

I pray that God will touch your heart this Christmas and show you what His Hope feels like.

* Merry Christmas *

31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 2 – God chooses a man to begin a nation

abraham-jesus

Two thousand years have passed from Adam and Eve to the time when Abraham arrives on the scene.  That’s a long time.  Almost everything we know about the first 2000 years of humanity is recorded in the first eleven chapters of Genesis. While God didn’t give us all the details, there were some very interesting people and events that occurred.  Genesis 5 gives us the genealogy starting  with Adam. Adam lived 930 years. Enoch, the father of Methuselah, walked with God and lasted 365 years until “he was no longer there” (he never died but was taken up by God). Methuselah, the oldest man, lived 969 years. Then the world changed forever. It had become evil and violent, and only one righteous man, Noah, and his family were saved from the Great Flood. Afterwards, God separated out the languages and the nations at the Tower of Babel, because the people tried to build a monument to their own greatness and worship creation instead of the creator.

By 2000 BC, Abram (later called Abraham) lived a life of luxury in the city of Ur (modern day Iraq). The culture was extremely advanced in arts and sciences by this time, and they had been writing for over 1000 years. The standard of living was high, with the average middle-class home having 10-20 rooms and over 2000 square feet (Archeology and Bible History, Joseph Free, p. 49). Abram left all of this behind based on his faith and obedience to God, and the first covenant promise was created between God and His people. The history of mankind was changed forever, and religion as we know it today was first established.

Second prophecy:

Genesis 12:1-3
Go out from your land,
your relatives,
and your father’s house
to the land that I will show you.
 I will make you into a great nation,
I will bless you,
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
I will curse those who treat you with contempt,
and all the peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.

Genesis 15:13-16, 18
 Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know this for certain: Your offspring will be foreigners in a land that does not belong to them; they will be enslaved and oppressed 400 years.  However, I will judge the nation they serve, and afterward they will go out with many possessions.  But you will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a ripe old age.  In the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”

On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “I give this land to your offspring, from the brook of Egypt to the Euphrates River. 

I pray that you will get to know the God of Abraham, the One who establishes a covenant promise with His people to never leave or forsake them. God’s greatest desire is to have a real relationship with you, His most beloved creation.

* Merry Christmas *

31 Days of the Christmas story from Genesis to John: Day 4 – God chooses a family

harpist

God’s covenant promise with Abraham came true. Israel became a nation, and the people were held captive for 400 years in Egypt just as it was prophesied in Genesis. Through God’s direction, Moses led the people out of bondage to a place called Mt. Sinai (Saudi Arabia). God gave them instructions on how to build a tabernacle for worship, and they became an organized people with a system of government. Joshua then led them to the Promised Land of Canaan, as God had promised to Abraham.

The nation of Israel is ruled by judges for several years until a prophet by the name of Samuel is born. Samuel is the last judge of Israel before the people choose a king named Saul to be their first king. King Saul later becomes mad, and the prophet Samuel, through God’s direction, anoints a young man David from the tribe of Judah as their next king. The monarchy is established, and the prophecy of Jacob regarding the tribe of Judah is fulfilled.

King David is a popular and successful king. A vision from the prophet Nathan is given to King David in this fourth prophecy, also known as the Davidic Covenant.

“Your house and kingdom will endure before Me forever, and your throne will be established forever.’”  2 Samuel 7:16

All three of these things (house, kingdom, and throne) are fulfilled in Jesus, as told by the angel Gabriel to the virgin Mary, who was from the house of David.

Luke 1:32-33
“He will be great
and will be called the Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give Him
the throne of His father David.
He will reign over the house of Jacob forever,
and His kingdom will have no end.”

I pray you will experience the joy and good news that was announced by the angel Gabriel on that night so long ago, when God came down to earth to fulfill His promise of a Savior and a Kingdom that will never end.

 * Merry Christmas *

31 Days of the Christmas story from Genesis to John: Day 5 – Jehoiakim’s curse

mary-and-joseph-travel-to-bethlehem

The nation of Israel fell on hard times after King David’s reign. Their hopes and dreams to be a great nation that would be a blessing to all nations was shattered. By about 600 BC, the nation had become divided and exiled from their homeland, because of their idolatry and worshiping of other gods, something God had specifically warned them against. The temple that King Solomon (David’s son) had built and had stood for 400 years was destroyed. The divided northern kingdom (Israel) was exiled to Assyria, and the southern kingdom (Judah) was exiled to Babylonia. Israel never had another good king but Judah, whose capital city was Jerusalem, still held to the promise that the line of David would always sit on the throne.

Several famous prophets rose during this time – Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Daniel. They warned the people to turn back to God or face judgement, as well as give the people a hope of the coming Messiah. Jeremiah was the last prophet to speak before Jerusalem was destroyed. Jehoiakim was the King of Judah during this time and he was very evil. Jehoiakim heavily taxed the people and had them build an extravagant palace for him without paying them for their labor. He even burned the scroll that Jeremiah wrote. God was angry with Jehoiakim and cursed him through the prophet Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 22:30
Therefore this is what the Lord says about Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah:
“Record this man as if childless,
a man who will not prosper in his lifetime,
for none of his offspring will prosper,
none will sit on the throne of David
or rule anymore in Judah.”

This curse seems to void the Davidic covenant that said the Messiah would inherit the throne through an heir from David’s line. If none of Jehoiakim’s descendents, as heirs to the line of David, could ever sit on the throne again in Judah, how could this prophecy be fulfilled? And true to the curse, Jehoiakim’s descendents never did sit on the throne again. All hope seemed lost. But what may look to be humanly impossible is always possible through God. Divine intervention was required.

Mary’s husband Joseph or any of his children could never sit on the throne of David because he was a descendent of Jehoiakim. The requirement for the prophecy to be fulfilled was that the Messiah must be both an heir to the throne and an offspring in the line of David. It was impossible for one person to fulfill both roles without going against the curse.

Mary was a descendent of Nathan, David’s other son. Through the virgin birth, Mary fulfilled the biological requirement to be in the line of David and therefore her child could sit on the throne, while her husband Joseph fulfilled the legal requirement of being an heir.  Without the divine intervention of a miraculous virgin birth, the Messiah would not have been possible. This will not be the only time where evil forces try to stop the birth of the Messiah. It is a continuous conflict throughout the Bible, but one that never succeeds.

I pray that you will believe in the God who can make all things possible, the God of miracles, the One who can and always will provide a way of hope.  Nothing is impossible for God.

* Merry Christmas *

31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 6 – Daniel’s prophecy

the-book-of-daniel

Daniel is still a well-known figure today, almost 2600 years after he lived.  He was a contemporary of Confucius’ day. Though we mostly only know Daniel by his first name, we associate him with such incredible life stories as Daniel in the Lion’s Den (happened when he was 83 years old!), Daniel in the Fiery Furnace, The Handwriting on the Wall, interpretation of dreams, and most amazing – he predicted the coming of the Messiah and the exact date of Jesus’ death – 600 years before it happened.

Daniel was a Jewish prophet and known to be a good man. Even his enemies regarded him as a man of integrity and faith. Though he was in captivity in Babylonia, King Nebuchadnezzar elevated him to a high rank in his kingdom. Nothing negative has ever been written about Daniel. Jesus quoted him in Matthew 24:15 when talking about current and end times prophecies. Daniel is proven to be one we can trust. And when you add up the math of his predictions about Jesus, it cannot be easily dismissed.

In his prophecy below, a week is defined as a group of 7 years instead of 7 days, so it is to be multiplied by 7 for the number of years. I added the explanations in parenthesis.

Daniel 9:20-27
While I was speaking, praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my petition before Yahweh my God concerning the holy mountain of my God— while I was praying, Gabriel, the man (angel who appeared as a man) I had seen in the first vision, came to me in my extreme weariness, about the time of the evening offering.  He gave me this explanation:

Seventy weeks are decreed (70 x 7=490 years)
about your people and your holy city—
to bring the rebellion to an end,
to put a stop to sin,

to wipe away iniquity,
to bring in everlasting righteousness,
to seal up vision and prophecy,
and to anoint the most holy place.
Know and understand this:

From the issuing of the decree
to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (rebuild the temple)
until Messiah the Prince

will be seven weeks and 62 weeks.
(temple was rebuilt from 445-396 BC in 7 x 7=49 years)
(exactly 434 years later – 62 x 7 – Jesus had the triumphal entry into Jerusalem)

It will be rebuilt with a plaza and a moat,
but in difficult times.
After those 62 weeks
the Messiah will be cut off (put to death)

and will have nothing.
The people of the coming prince (anti-Christ)
will destroy the city and the sanctuary.
The end will come with a flood,
and until the end there will be war;
desolations are decreed.
He will make a firm covenant
with many for one week, (1 x 7 = 7 years of tribulation in the future)
but in the middle of the week
he will put a stop to sacrifice and offering. (he will turn on the people)
And the abomination of desolation
will be on a wing of the temple
until the decreed destruction
is poured out on the desolator.

The entire decree is 70 weeks (490 years = 49 + 434 + 7).
From the issuing of the decree until the Messiah is a consecutive 7 and 62 weeks (49 + 434 years).
The remaining week or 7 years is to happen in the future end times with the anti-Christ, as was also prophesied by Daniel.

I pray that you will not be fearful of the times still to come, but rejoice in the assurance we can have now in knowing the Messiah who has already come!  God has given us fair warning, and Jesus came not to judge the world but to save it.  It is a free gift of salvation to all, but it is up to each of us to accept it and believe.

* Merry Christmas *