A Mixed Christmas!

manner_of_abraham_bloemaert_-_announcement_to_the_shepherds_c1600_fhm01_os-i-19

Simple Truth

Christmas has become a mixed state of affairs as we all know and everyone for all kinds of reasons you could say gets on the bandwagon of Christmas and different people read different things into the great celebration. Some people couldn’t care less what we are apparently celebrating whereas others are more moderate and others are more serious and yet there are others still that are completely reckless and even chaotic about the whole thing of Christmas. Christmas as we all know is also somewhat associated with the birth of Jesus Christ and wise men visiting Him and bringing Him gifts. Well, even back then in the days of King Herod when the wise men arrived on the scene there were mixed feelings, they arrived “saying (to Herod), Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.”

wise_men_visit_king_herod_This very question suddenly throws King Herod into somewhat chaotic thinking and into a dilemma and the strong impression you get is that the very thought of another king being born in Israel sent shockwaves through his system but it did bring into history a very very interesting and prophetic verse. King Herod had called in the chief priests and scribes of the people and he demanded of them where Christ should be born and these chief priests who got it right on this occasion quoted Micah 5:2 “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 of old, from everlasting.” This prophetic verse has somewhat got lost in the bag wash of Christmas these days but still it manages to shine through and people do hear of it though very often in a watered down version, it has become something of a distant star and of course the weather has grown cloudy and people seldom see the true reality of this true prophecy these days.

christ-starAnother thing that is interesting about that time when the wise men arrived on the scene was the talk of an actual star that they had seen and that they were following and so after they had seen King Herod “…they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.” So kind of headline news back then in those days, wise men following a star and the star meaning that a king had been born. So what was the reaction to this kind of news in Jerusalem? Well, we read in Matthew 2:3 that it says, “When Herod the King heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.” So quite a sobering time for them back then! You wonder sometimes if perhaps all eyes were fixed to the skies in trying to see this star, the star appears to be very visible because it moved and finally stood over where the young child was. I suppose to them back then in Jerusalem this star must have had more in common with a comet in that they saw it as something odious and something to be feared and even something to dread and it reminds you of the poem about comets that says:

“Eight things there be a comet brings,
When on high it doth horrid range,
Wind, famine, plague, death to kings,
War, earthquakes, floods, and direful change.”

Obviously it wasn’t a comet because clearly it says that it was a star, we don’t know what exactly was going through the minds of the people back then in Jerusalem but looking at this whole thing politically then you can only imagine what they must have been thinking. Different leaders had come and gone in Israel and many of these had been the result of miraculous conception and had grown up to be kind of miracle leaders, they’d often been about things like sin, judgement, and retribution. King Herod and the leadership in Jerusalem had no-doubt heard of people like Moses and his plagues, Joshua and his battle of Jericho and King David who also came out of Bethlehem and was also known as a bloody king because he had had many battles and many wars to fight back then so to be fair to them, you can understand their concerns and no-doubt King Herod and the rulers of Jerusalem back then were not righteous rulers so why wouldn’t they be afraid, perhaps God’s judgements were about to fall on them through this new king and they might find themselves wiped out or taken over! But no, none of this was going to happen! This star was not some kind of odious star or some kind of comet that would bring dread and judgement and retribution etc. but on the contrary, it symbolised the birth of a King who as the angels had said to the shepherds, apparition-to-the-shepherds

“…fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to ALL people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

angel-shepherdsSo to be fair again to King Herod and the leadership and even the people of Jerusalem who found themselves being fearful, maybe they hadn’t heard about the story of the shepherds and of the angels that appeared to them. We read that “…the shepherds returned (home), glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them”“And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.” They also made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child so this also was the talk of the town and even the region back then; “back then” shouldn’t be taken as an understatement because “back then” was two years earlier! Jesus was actually born two years before the wise men showed up, King Herod as most of us have heard “…when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent for, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise copy_of_1956176_f520men.” So Jesus was actually somewhere around two years old when the wise men visited Him and we read also that Jesus was actually in a house at that time and not in a stable because it says “…when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.”

So with Christmas there is also a lot of confusion concerning the sequel of events and as to where Jesus was when the wise men visited Him and remember that we just read that it says He was a young child when they visited Him in a house and also of Herod who had diligently enquired of the wise men when they saw the star etc. The picture you get is that the wise men saw the star two years earlier and had followed that star till it eventually stood still over a house and not a stable. They saw the star stand over this house and they rejoiced with exceeding great joy so no fear there in the wise men’s hearts, the shepherds had been told of Jesus’ birth and that it meant peace and goodwill to all men so no fear in their hearts but poor old King Herod and all the people in Jerusalem had read all the wrong things into Jesus’ birth, none of the things they feared were going to happen, Jesus wasn’t going to lead a big army and take over Jerusalem with a bloody sword etc. but instead it was as the angel said unto them,

“Fear not for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to ALL people. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!

adoration-of-the-baby-gerrit-van-honthorst

 

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