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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas: The Reason for the Season

Okay, so we all know from greeting cards, lapel pins and buttons, bumper stickers, plastic Jell-o molds, Christmas wrapping paper, and even the carefully written phrase on colored package ribbon that “Jesus Is the Reason for the Season!” I get that, but my question is this: Why Jesus and not Mohamed or Buddha, or one of the three million Hindu gods that tower above the landscape all over India? Why is it that Jesus’ birthday is the one that influences the whole world, even changing how we record time*? Yes, Jesus is, definitely, the reason for the season; but, why? Mohamed’s birthday is also heralded by his followers, including a global celebration. In fact, the followers of Mohamed celebrate the birth of Jesus, because they accept that Jesus was a great Prophet.

Backtracking a little bit, we find another question to answer first: Why did Jesus decide to make His own, personal, sojourn on earth so long after He participated as part of the Creation Team? In an earlier blog I shared the first verse in Genesis (Old Testament) and the first verse in the Gospel of John (New Testament) where we see that there is nothing at all on earth and God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are letting us in on the way everything was “In the beginning…” John continues with Jesus as the focus. Genesis goes on with the details of how the Trinity sculpted the landscape, filling it with everything we would need to live on earth. Wouldn’t you think He would just drop in to check it out when everything was still shiny and new? No, it doesn’t work like that. The Creation Team had decided that mankind, created in their own image, would have free will--the right to choose to obey their Creator’s rules or go their own way. The Triune God would not make the humans into robots who have no choice at all in the matter. Father God wanted to have relationship with the created human beings they had fashioned in the image of the Godhead.

Take time to read the Old Testament, but read it from the point of view of Father God, not just like a world history lesson. Over and over the people God has made are doing great and things are going hunky-dory. No problems. Then, little-by-little, things begin to change. The better things are, the less they remember God. The easier it is to just skip that Sabbath Day worship, and those special religious holidays that hinder work one day a week (or more if we are talking the Passover or Yom Kippur.) The more they skipped participating in a special religious observance/festival or worship service, the easier it was to skip another one. Before long, they discovered that their enemies would make an alliance with them that could prove financially beneficial. These alliances would also allow them to expand their armies, if only they would bow down to the gods of wood and stone. Uh, well… okay, why not? It doesn’t mean that they need to believe in them, right? Who would know the difference?

Next, the foreigners wanted to marry their daughters; and, hey, how about letting them give their daughters to your sons, too. That would make you stronger in the region; that’s for sure. Hmmm, they weren’t so sure about that one, because they knew that this kind of alliance through marriage was expressly forbidden by God. But, well, the majority reasoned thus, ”We are here and they are here so why not just join our families as well as our forces and make one huge happy people group in the land.”

Why not? Because the One Who created them told them not to do that; that’s why! God, in His wisdom, knew all too well that it would not be his people who would be influencing the foreigners to follow the Holy Almighty God; but, rather, that the foreigners would be infiltrating His people, and turning their hearts away to worship gods of wood and stone that are not gods at all. Of course, God let them do it, with disastrous results every time.

At the point of maximum suffering, the people cried out to God to help them, promising all kinds of returning to do the right thing, if only God would deliver them from these people, who turned out not to be a good alliance after all.  God would deliver them. There would be great rejoicing in the land of God’s People. They were faithful to follow God’s ordinances and precepts every day… until they weren’t. Off they went again, listening to the Deceiver. Again, things went badly for them, as God stood off, just letting them do things the way they wanted to do them. Again, a desperate cry for help. Again, God forgave them, believe their professions of repenting and doing things God’s way. Again, the celebration over the deliverance and, again, back on the straight and narrow! Until next time, that is.

The people not only refuse to listen to God’s prophets when He sent them, but they killed them! Something had to be done!

*For those not old enough to remember, not long ago time was measured by BC (meaning Before Christ) or AD (meaning in the year of our Lord…after Jesus came to earth. Now, time is noted as BCE, Before Common Era or CE, Common Era, without letting us in on what determined the change, if not Christ’s coming.)

****Christmas: The Plan… Next Post


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