31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 11 – Place of birth is named

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Micah was another Hebrew prophet that was a contemporary of Isaiah. He was considered to be a great communicator and was known as a prophet to the common people. If Isaiah had been the only prophet to prophesy about the coming Messiah then it might have been less believable, but when there are multiple witnesses and sources, it becomes even more credible.

Micah’s writings were read and studied by kings several hundred years after his death, and they also appear in the United States Government today. In this next prophecy from the book of Micah, he actually names the place of birth for the Messiah – Bethlehem!

Micah 5:2
Bethlehem Ephrathah,
you are small among the clans of Judah;
One will come from you
to be ruler over Israel for Me.
His origin is from antiquity,
from eternity.

These are the words the wise men read that led them to the Star of Bethlehem. They had studied Micah’s writings, where it was prophesied 700 years earlier that the coming Messiah would be from the small town of Bethlehem, from the tribe of Judah, and with an origin from the beginning of time lasting for eternity. What incredible faith they must have had to travel such a long distance to a foreign land with nothing more than these ancient prophecies. God clearly rewarded their faith.

And today, if you look in the Library of Congress next to the U.S. Capitol building, you will see these other words from the Prophet Micah inscribed above one of the reading alcoves.

Micah 6:8
He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?

Judeo/Christian principles are found everywhere in the beginning of the U.S. Government.
~ In God We Trust is imprinted on the U.S. currency.
~ A painting of the Baptism of Pocohontas at Jamestown in 1618 hangs in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.
~ The Liberty Bell is inscribed with Leviticus 25:10 (proclaim liberty throughout all the land).
~ A large bronze statue of Moses with the 10 Commandments is located in the Library of Congress, along with over a thousand rare Bibles including an original Gutenberg Bible.
~ All 50 State Constitutions reference God.
And there are many other historical references. God rewards our faithfulness.

This Christmas season, may you have the faith of the Wise Men, the prophets Micah and Isaiah, the founding fathers of America, and countless numbers of others who have gone before us. May God bless you for your faithfulness during this special season of celebration – from a little town of Bethlehem long ago.

* Merry Christmas *

31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 28 – Wise Men arrive

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The Wise Men had arrived in Bethlehem. Mary, Joseph and Jesus lived about two years in Bethlehem and were out of the stable and living in a house by the time the Wise Men arrived. But who were these Wise Men? They were definitely from the East, probably Persia (modern-day Iran), and would have traveled about 800-900 miles by the stars to get to Bethlehem. The prophet Daniel had been chief of the court seers at an earlier time in Persia during the Jewish exile, so these men would have been familiar with Daniel’s prophecy regarding the timing of the Messiah.

They were learned men and confident of their knowledge too. They would not have traveled such a far distance on just a hunch. When they arrived in Jerusalem, they asked King Herod where the King of the Jews had been born. They already knew he had been born. And they already knew who He was.

They must have been important men too, in order to have the attention of King Herod. But Herod had not been expecting them – they came unannounced. That seems a little unusual, but perhaps the Wise Men knew of King Herod’s reputation as a ruthless King and thought it better to not cause trouble ahead of time. King Herod was also an Edomite, who came from the descendants of Esau, Jacob’s twin brother from their father Isaac. Esau had given up his birthright and blessing to Jacob, who later became the nation of Israel. Throughout the history of the Old Testament, the Edomites had always been at conflict with Israel, and now it continued with King Herod.

The Wise Men were not Kings themselves but Magi (magicians) or Astronomers. But they believed. They had studied the history of the Jews and their prophecies. Perhaps it is symbolic that Jesus was already having victory over darkness through these Magi. And King Herod and the rest of Jerusalem was not happy about it.

The Gospel of Matthew, chapter 2, tells us the story of the Wise Men’s visit:

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, wise men from the east arrived unexpectedly in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”

When King Herod heard this, he was deeply disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. So he assembled all the chief priests and scribes of the people and asked them where the Messiah would be born.

“In Bethlehem of Judea,” they told him, “because this is what was written by the prophet:

And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the leaders of Judah:
because out of you will come a leader
who will shepherd My people Israel.

Then Herod secretly summoned the wise men and asked them the exact time the star appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. When you find Him, report back to me so that I too can go and worship Him.”

Of course Herod did not want to worship the child but to kill him. And how sad it is that all the chief priests and scribes of Jerusalem – those who knew the law and knew about the prophecy of Bethlehem – did not even want to go to see it for themselves. Had their hearts become that hardened and selfish that they did not want to see the truth?

May you open your heart to the wonderful possibilities that can come from knowing Jesus.

* Merry Christmas *

31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 29 – Wise Men worship Jesus

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And there it was – the star they had seen in the east! It led the Wise Men until it came and stopped above the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed beyond measure. Entering the house, they saw the child with Mary His mother, and falling to their knees, they worshiped Him.  Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their own country by another route.
Matthew 2:9-12

Let us worship Jesus the way the Wise Men did. They gave Him their treasures which they had brought with them on their trip, fully expecting to see the Messiah. They believed, they sought Him, they recognized who He was, they humbled themselves, and they obeyed God rather than man. They were truly wise, and we can be also.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction. – Proverbs 1:7

* Merry Christmas *

31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 30 – Three prophecies complete the birth story of the Messiah

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The Wise Men finished worshiping the child Jesus and departed for home, being warned in a dream not to return by way of King Herod. Joseph was also told by an angel of the Lord to take the Child and his mother and flee to Egypt by night, because Herod wanted to destroy the child Jesus.

That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet (Hosea), saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”
Matthew 2:15

When Herod found out that he had been deceived by the Wise Men, he was very angry and put to death all male children in Bethlehem under the age of two, trying to kill the one who was Jesus.

Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying:
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted,
Because they are no more.”
Matthew 2:17-18

When Herod was dead, the angel appeared again to Joseph and told him to take the Child and his mother to the land of Israel. And also being warned by God not to return to Judea where Herod’s son was reigning, Joseph and his family went to the region of Galilee, to the city of Nazareth.

That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene.”
Matthew 2:23

Nazareth was considered a lowly area with not much of a reputation. While there are no written prophecies about Jesus becoming a Nazarene, it was most likely meant as a description for someone who would be despised. The prophecies in Psalms and Isaiah describe this:

A reproach of men, and despised by the people.
All those who see Me ridicule Me;
They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
“He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him;
Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!”
Psalm 22:6-8

He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Isaiah 53:3

 Jesus understands. He has been there as a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He can help you overcome anything.

* Merry Christmas *