Laura and Dave Powell
Ministry Directors - Truth of Genesis
A few days ago, our son asked us, “What time can I get you up on Christmas morning if I can’t sleep? Is five too early?” For many years Joshua has found the night time hours between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to be challenging. He’s so excited about the upcoming exchange of presents, slumber doesn’t come easily, if at all. So, in our pajamas we patter downstairs, at the wake of day, and read the story of the birth of Jesus in the book of Luke. It’s one of the traditions that helps our family focus on the reason for the celebration of such an amazing day in history when love came down and brought hope and joy into the world.
Yesterday our son attended his last day of school before Christmas break. Keeping with school tradition, the closing chapel was a holiday hymn sing. Each class picks a song, and everyone sings while the organ or piano accompanies the Preschool through Eighth grade students and their parents and grandparents. Holiday hymns help us to focus on the prophecies fulfilled by the Savior’s birth, if we concentrate on the lyrics as we sing.
Many prophecies are mentioned in the song, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” The virgin birth, reclaiming Israel as His own, and the promise that “God is with us,” all are sung about in these rich lyrics. Our pastor recently did a sermon about this song and its ties to scripture to help bring back the song’s purpose, rediscover its meaning and refresh our understanding about why Jesus needed to come into our world. Isaiah 7:14 is where we learn about the virgin birth of Jesus and He is given the tittle, “Immanuel” or “God with us.”
“We Three Kings,” helps us to remember the Magi. Today we give gifts at Christmas because the “wise men” opened their treasures and “…offered Him gifts”. But why did they do that? The answer is to fulfill prophesy. Psalm 72: 10 says, “May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands render him tribute; may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts!” This was not only accomplished in Bethlehem with Jesus but also fulfilled in the line of David through his son Solomon when he received gifts from the Kings of the world in 2 Chronicles 9:24.
To keep the musical theme going on just a bit longer, the song “O little town of Bethlehem” has deep roots in Micah 5:2. This scripture identifies the small town, which is where King David was born, to be the birthplace of the Messiah. Of course, it is well known that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, but did you know that the timing was the result of a tax bill that had been ordered and then appealed by the Jewish people?
Four years before the birth of Jesus, a tax had been ordered by Caesar Augustus on some of the territories that he had conquered. To my knowledge there is no Christmas song about taxes. The Jews, like many of us today, didn’t take kindly to the new tax and because the local governor had no authority to address the issue, representatives had to appeal it all the way to Rome. The tax was enforced despite the delegation sent to Caesar, and the tax collectors worked their way South and East. Mary and Joseph reported to their ancestral home (they were living in Nazareth) just in time to report to the census and for the Messiah to be born exactly as the word of God said.
Finally, the root, or promise of Jesus the Savior, extends all the way back to Genesis 3. Here sin entered the world and the need for salvation became apparent. The blood of bulls and goats was not enough to cover us. Romans 5:12–21 explains the overall problem of sin and God’s solution of grace through Jesus Christ. The promise of the Redeemer is given in Genesis 3:15, known by many as “the first gospel”. It wasn’t until approximately 2000 B.C, a few thousand years after creation, that the hope of a Savior was repeated to Abraham in Genesis 12: 1-3 and Genesis 21:12.
On Christmas morning we will celebrate a baby. The Son of God given to mankind to take away the sins of the world. Maybe we should add a new tradition along with our Bible reading. Verse three of “Joy to the World,” gives us the perspective of our condition. No more let sins or sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground. He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found. There is great joy to be found in recognizing the fulfillment of prophecies through Christ’s birth, including the one that showed us from the beginning that a Savior would make a way for us to be right with the Father. Let earth receive Her King!
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible.
Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary page 810.
The Promise, Hal Lindsey 1974.