What, When , Where Why? Christmas!!!

What is Christmas? It is the celebration of Christ!   And that is exactly what the word means! When? We celebrate the birth of our Lord on December 25. While there is no command in all scripture to do so, neither is there any where in scripture that forbids it.  Where do we celebrate this holy day? In churches and homes, in hospitals, in nursing homes, even in the jails and prisons, Christmas is even celebrated on the battlefield. Typically most churches will have Christmas Eve services, depending on the church the times may vary, I have been to candlelight services as early as 7:00pm and the last several years I have attended a service that does not start until 11:00 pm. I am sure you could find one that suits your schedule!  Why? Is actually a two fold question- Why do we celebrate the birth of Christ when we were never commanded to do so and why on Dec 25 when that is not the date that Jesus was born ( likely not anyway) 

I am going to do this backwards and tackle the hard one first- Why Dec 25?  Well first of all, Christmas was not even celebrated until about the fourth century A.D.  It was in the fourth century, four hundred years after the birth of Christ that Pope Julius I made Dec 25 the official date that Christ birth would be celebrated.  Why, of all the dates , would Pope Julius pick Dec 25? Well, he was probably thinking that this celebration would fit right in with some other celebration that occurred during this time, yes those celebrations were pagan festivals that had been celebrated, probably for centuries before Christ was born.  Dec 25 was considered the birthday of the sun( and now it is when we celebrate the birthday of the Son!) This was recognized as the winter solstice the days begin getting longer on this date. This was also the date of a Roman festival that celebrated the birthday of the pagan god Sol Invictus or unconquered Sun.  Also this date was considered the birthday of  a god called Mirtha, who was the sun-god of the ancient Persians, which was popular with the Roman Soldiers. While this date may be tied to the pagan’s worship of sun  gods, for the Christian it is not about the sun but about the One who created the sun!   Which brings me to the question of why should we celebrate the birth of Christ?  Should we not honor the One that sacrificed Himself, willingly on the cross, because it we that have sinned? His gift to us , the atonement for our sins He became the sacrificial Lamb , He died that we would have Life and is that not what Jesus was all about – life?  That we might have life and have it abundantly?  While Jesus is eternal and pre existed with the God the Father and the Holy Spirit, it is His physical birth that we celebrate that birth that was planned from the moment man fell into sin in the Garden of Eden. Our Redeemer, Savior, became  our Immanuel (God with us) became one of us – to save us from our sins. Does not the birth of such a One deserve our honor?  We celebrate His death because He commanded us to. We celebrate His birth because we want to!  And I have decided to start writing the word as Christ Mass rather than as Christmas- just makes more sense to me so Have a very Merry Christ Mass!! 

 

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Rev 20 Cont

The Great White Throne Judgment

11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God,[c] and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.[d] 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

It is this passage that breaks down all of humanity into two classes- the saved and the lost.  This passage also contains one of the most personal messages found in all of scripture.  The more we read this passage the more prepared we will be to answer when the roll is called up yonder. Every deed and every motive of every person from every era and every region will have been recorded and will be here in the presence of the assembled universe. This is the day spoken of by Paul in Romans 2:16.

Romans 2:16

New King James Version (NKJV)

16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.

The Book of Life contains all the names of the redeemed.  The Great White Throne Judgement only applies to whose names are not written in the Book of Life.

The second death is the final doom at the end. This is not referring to physical death which all of humanity must suffer.  The second death is the lake of fire, where the fire is not quenched,  the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them.

The great white throne is a picture of God’s holy rule and judgement.  “the earth and the the heaven have fled..” is a poetic way of describing the burning up of this creation and its related works as found in 2 Peter 3:10-13. There is no place for this sin polluted creation in the new heaven and new earth. (21:1-22:5)

12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God,[c] and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.

The dead, called the rest of the dead in in v 5 are raised and made to stand before God;s throne of judgement. To some, the first resurrection (v5) includes only the martyrs(v4) so that both believers and unbelievers will stand before the great white throne. Others point to the broad promises of to Christians made in the book of Revelation of ruling with Christ(1:6; 2:26,27; 5:10 ) as evidence that all Christians will experience the first resurrection and thus will not have to endure the great white throne judgement. Books refers to  the record of all works done in this life.  Since all have sinned and and fall short of God’s standards (Romans 3:23) the opening of these book would certainly lead to sentences in the lake of fire.

the Book of Life is God’s register of those who are SAVED and is also opened , no one will be judged acceptable based on works, many will be saved by God’s grace received by faith in Jesus Christ. ( Eph 2:8)

13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.[d] 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

The sea is the resting place of unburied bodies. Death and hades not only refers to dying but to existence beyond the grave.  The picture here is of all intermediate abodes of human bodies giving them up to God’s judgement.  While unbelieving humanity is judged according to its works, Death and Hades, the Lord’s final enemy is also destroyed by being cast into the lake of fire. The Second death is is spiritual and eternal, the just punishment of the wicked. The first death is physical dying. Both are included in the overall meaning of the death that came upon the human race because of Adam and Eve’s sin.
15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
Only God’s elect, those whose names are written in the Book of Life will escape the lake of fire. The rejection of the eternal gospel results in eternal condemnation.
Stay tuned of Chapter 21  – All Things Made New!
Keep Christ in Christ Mass!
Until next time may God richly bless you!

 

Advent

This is the first Sunday in Advent for the western church (including the Protestant denominations)

November 27 – First Sunday of Advent
• December 4 – Second Sunday of Advent
• December 11 – Third Sunday of Advent
• December 18 – Fourth Sunday of Advent.

In Eastern Orthodox churches which use the Julian calendar, Advent begins earlier, on November 15, and lasts 40 days, rather than 4 weeks

We are awaiting the arrival of the Messiah. As were the prophetess Anna and Simeon and all of Israel.  They had the advantage of the Holy Spirit  letting them know that some prophecies had been fulfilled. We have both the Holy Spirit and the confirmation of history and the Bible that tells their story.  In this celebration is also the anticipation of His return.  Jesus first came to earth as an infant, as beautiful as the story is we cannot leave Jesus in the cradle, He lived an absolutely amazing life and died on the cross to atone for our sins and rose from the grave on the third day, was seen alive for forty days including 500 brethren at once and ascended into heaven, where He sits at the right hand of God the Father.  He was born for the sole purpose of dying for our sins, past, present and future sins, so that we can once again be in fellowship and stand righteous before God. It is His blood that blots our sins from God’s eyes.   That is the greatest gift of all. We think we spend a lot on Christmas, just think what Christmas cost Jesus. It cost Him His life in heaven, His life on earth, even costs Him His fellowship ,for a moment, with God. It costs Him His friends as they abandoned Him and ran and hid for fear of their own lives.  What else it may have cost Jesus we do not know.  Lets just say, that the price Jesus paid for Christmas was the cross.  The Nativity accounts are filled with supernatural signs to announce a supernatural event.   Angels, stars, wise men, a virgin birth, a woman bearing a child when both her and her husband were well beyond child bearing age.  The season is one of hope, and anticipation, and of preparation. We focus on preparing meals, planning get togethers and trimming the tree and of course the endless shopping. In our prepartions lets not forget to prepare for His return and that is something we hope for  with great anticipation.  Stay in the word of God during this season, pray daily, alone and with family and church family. Please, do not go into debt for Christmas, the greatest Christmas gift you could give your family is to stay financially stable so you can meet their needs in the coming months.  What are some ways to celebrate advent?

Advent is one of the few Christian festivals that can be observed in the home as well as at church.  In its association with Christmas, Advent is a natural time to involve children in activities at home that directly connect with worship at church.  In the home an Advent wreath is often placed on the dining table and the candles lighted at meals, with Scripture readings preceding the lighting of the candles, especially on Sunday. A new candle is lighted each Sunday during the four weeks, and then the same candles are lighted each meal during the week. In this context, it provides the opportunity for family devotion and prayer together, and helps teach the Faith to children, especially if they are involved in reading the daily Scriptures.

An Advent Calendar is a way to keep children involved in the entire season.  There are a wide variety of Advent calendars, but usually they are simply a card or poster with windows that can be opened, one each day of Advent, to reveal some symbol or picture associated with the Old Testament story leading up to the birth of Jesus.

Such as Isaiah 2:1-5,7:10-14, Jeremiah 33:14-16, Zephaniah 3:14-18, Micah 5:2-5a, Matthew 24:37-44, Romans 13:11-14

This is the time when the tree usually goes up in the home. I prefer handmade ornaments to those that are store bought, though there is nothing wrong with buying the ornaments from the store.  My favorite is a nail with a red ribbon around it to remind me why Jesus was born and not to leave Him in the cradle.

Keep Christ the center of your celebration, in other words Keep Christ in CHRIST MASS!! It is the celebration of the anointed one – THE MESSIAH!!

Rev 20 Continued-The Satanic Rebellion is Crushed!

Satanic Rebellion Crushed

7 Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number isas the sand of the sea. 9 They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. 10 The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where[b] the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

At the end of Christ’s thousand year reign , satan will be released by God to deceive the nations of the earth, as he has throughout history.  Because of this satanic deception , the world’s armies will gather for battle  against God just as they had done before Christ’s second coming. (16:13,14; 19:19,20 ) Gog and Magog was a common rabbinical title for nations in rebellion against the Lord.  The beloved city is Jerusalem and may be the renewed earthly Jerusalem ready to give way to the everlasting sinless glory of the New Jerusalem.  The use of fire from heaven is seen elsewhere to destroy armies. (Ez 38, 39) Camp usually refers to armies or their barracks,.

When this final rebellion is put down by the Lord, satan will join the beast and the false prophet in torment forever in the lake of fire. The unholy trinity will finally have to pay for the evil that they perpetrated .

We will pick up on the Great White Throne Judgement next time.  Remember it is ok to say “MERRY CHRISTMAS”  and when you do say that remember the reason that Jesus was born was to die for our sins.  What great joy that is!!

A Short Primer on Biblical Prophecy

Prophecy in the Bible may or may not constitute the predicting of future events. The prophets were God’s spokesman. I like to define biblical prophecy as the FORTH TELLING OF TRUTH.   There are prophecies in nearly every book of the Bible. Many prophecies can be found in the Psalms that King David wrote.   There is only one book of prophecy in the New Testament, the book of Revelation. While in the Old Testament there are seventeen books of prophecy. They are divided into major prophets and minor prophets. This division is based solely on the length of the books. The major prophets being the longest and the minor prophets being the shortest. There are four major prophets and five books considered as major prophesies.  Jeremiah wrote the book that his name bears and Lamentations.

Isaiah- The Messianic Prophet

Jeremiah-  A Last Effort to save Jerusalm

Lamentations – a dirge over the destruction of Jerusalm

Ezekiel- “They shall know that I am God”

Daniel-The Prophet at Babylon

The minor prophets are:

Hosea- Apostasy of Israel

Joel- Prediction of the Holy Spirit Age

Amos- Ultimate Universal Rule of David

Obadiah-Destruction of Edom

Jonah-An Errand of Mercy to Nineveh

Micah- Bethlehem to be Birthplace of the Messiah

Nahum-  Destruction of Nineveh

Habakkuk- “The Just Shall Live by Faith”

Zephaniah- Coming of a Pure Language

Haggai- Rebuilding the Temple

Zechariah-Rebuilding the Temple

Malachi –  Final Message to a Disobedient People which is also the last book of the Old Testament.

We have 4 major prophets and 12 minor prophets and seventeen prophetic books.

 

 

 

Rev 20 – Satan Bound for 1,000 Yeras

1. Satan Bound for 1,000 years

2. The Saints reign with Christ 1,000 years

3. Satanic Rebellion Crushed

4. The Great White Throne judgement

Satan Bound 1000 Years

1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; 3 and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.

God has a sovereign plan for satan, he will be shut up in the abyss in the abyss for 1,000 years and then will be briefly loosed to deceive the nations one final time, before being cast into the lake of fire. Satan does not escape but is released to fulfill God’s sovereign plan.

The Saints Reign with Christ 1000 Years

4 And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a[a]thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.

Thrones …. reigned indicates that believers will will participate significantly with Christ during his millennial rule. At the onset of the kingdom, authority is officially transferred from angel to men. (Hebrews 2:5,8)  A new world order is established with the overcoming saints of the church age ruling together with Christ in his kingdom.  (Romans 8:17) Those who had been beheaded are believers martyred by the beast and may also be the victorious throng  who sang praises to the Lamb in 15:2-4.

Did not live again indicates that the resurrection of the dead will not encompass all people at the same time as indicated by Dan 2:12 and John 5:29.  1 Cor 15: 23, 52 indicates that there will be a first resurrection of the dead before the 1,000 years of Christ’s reign, and a final resurrection after the millennium is finished, before the great white throne judgment.

Blessed  begins  the fifth of the seven beatitudes in Revelation. The other six all look for life with Jesus beyond the first resurrection.  The first resurrection is assured for all believers. But the blessedness mentioned here belongs more precisely to those who have a part in the first resurrection.  It is possible that this refers only to those believers who qualify to function as king-priests in Christ’s kingdom.  This might be what Paul was  referring to when he spoke of his goal of obtaining the prize of Christ. ( 1 Cor 9:27; Phil 3:10-14)

The second death is the everlasting death of torment  in the lake of fire for non believers who face the great white throne judgement. John has previously stated that the one who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.  (2:11)

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving , until next time may God richly bless you!

 

Simeon Sees God’s Salvation

   
25 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, 28 he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: 
       29 “ Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, 
      According to Your word; 
       30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation 
       31 Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, 
       32 A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, 
      And the glory of Your people Israel.” 

33 And Joseph and His mother[h] marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against 35 (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

Anna Bears Witness to the Redeemer

   
36 Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; 37 and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years,[i]who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. 38 And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord,[j] and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

We can see that Jesus birth is saturated with the supernatural. The history of Jesus birth begins and ends with the prophetic. It begins quietly and and leaves us quitely as nothing is mentioned after Jesus is two years old with the visit of the magi and the flight to Egypt and returning to Nazareth Unitl we see Jesus at 12 in the temple in Jerusalem. Then nothing until thirty years later as Jesus begins his ministry. How we would love to know of Jesus life in the intervening years, but God in His wisdom has hidden that from our eyes. But he did reveal that this baby Jesus was the Messiah to Simoen and Anna. Simeon was waiting for the consolation of Israel, the comforter of Israel, a hope that parallells the hope of national deliverance expressed in the two hymns of Luke chapter one. This deliverance would involve the work of the Messiah. Luke highlights the presence of the Holy Spirit at the beginning of God’s work in Jesus. Simeon identifies God’s salvation as being personified in Jesus. In verse 32 we see the first explicit statement in Luke that includes both Jews and gentiles. Salvation is portrayed as light (1:79). It would be a revelation to gentiles because they would be able to participate in God’s blessing with a fullness that was not revealed in the OT. Jesus is the glory of Israel because through him the nation would see the fulfillment of God’s promises; The nation’s special role in God’s plan would be vindicated.

Vs 35, Mary would suffer much, as if being stuck by a large broad sword, she would bear suffering and pain watching people reject Jesus. “Thoughts… reveled” Jesus is a litmus test for where people stand before God. Jesus will reveal the thoughts of all people as their judge.

We now come to the prophetess Anna. That she was called a prophetess inidcates that she was very close to God. Prophets did not necessarily predict the future. Their main role was to be speak for God, proclaiming His truth. Biblical prophecy is more a forth telling of truth than predicting the future. It is not clear whether eighty-four years was Anna’s age or that it is how long she had been a widow. Anna addressed anyone who would listen to her as did Miriam, Deborah, and Hulda. Phillips daughters are another example of prophetesses in the NT. “redemption in Israel is anohter way of speaking of the consolation of Israel.

We come now to verse 39:

   
39 So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth.

There seems to be a gap of several years between verses 38 and 39 -enough time to find a place to live in Bethlehem, flee to Egypt to escape Herods wrayh, and return to Nazareth when it is safe to do so. As we will see when we pick up in Matthew’s account of the nativity. Which we will get to but first I would like to talk about the Holiday of Thanksgiving. That word holiday is actually a contracted form of the phrase Holy Day which would indicate that a day set aside to give thanks is of a religious significance and that means it is an act of faith based on the recognition that all that we have comes from our Creator. How can we celebrate the blessings that the Creator has bestowed upon us? As a people of faith we need to look to the Bible, the Word of God to find a way to celebrate that brings honor to Him. When we think of Thanksgiving today we think of football, family, food , and maybe someone is assigned the task or honor of saying a prayer, depending on one’s perspective, before the meal. We think of the food, turkey or ham, the everpresent green bean casserole, and the big bowl of cranberryb sauce that is pretty to look at but no one ever actually eats any of it. As I think of gratitutde I am reminded of the Peace Offering that is described in Leviticus 3 –

The Peace Offering

 1 ‘When his offering is a sacrifice of a peace offering, if he offers it of the herd, whether male or female, he shall offer it without blemish before the LORD. 2 And he shall lay his hand on the head of his offering, and kill it at the door of the tabernacle of meeting; and Aaron’s sons, the priests, shall sprinkle the blood all around on the altar. 3 Then he shall offer from the sacrifice of the peace offering an offering made by fire to the LORD. The fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails, 4 the two kidneys and the fat that is on them by the flanks, and the fatty lobeattached to the liver above the kidneys, he shall remove; 5 and Aaron’s sons shall burn it on the altar upon the burnt sacrifice, which is on the wood that is on the fire, as an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the LORD.
6 ‘If his offering as a sacrifice of a peace offering to the LORD is of the flock, whether male or female, he shall offer it without blemish. 7 If he offers a lamb as his offering, then he shall offer it before the LORD. 8 And he shall lay his hand on the head of his offering, and kill it before the tabernacle of meeting; and Aaron’s sons shall sprinkle its blood all around on the altar. 
9 ‘Then he shall offer from the sacrifice of the peace offering, as an offering made by fire to the LORD, its fat and the whole fat tail which he shall remove close to the backbone. And the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that ison the entrails, 10 the two kidneys and the fat that is on them by the flanks, and the fatty lobe attached to the liver above the kidneys, he shall remove; 11 and the priest shall burn them on the altar as food, an offering made by fire to the LORD. 
12 ‘And if his offering is a goat, then he shall offer it before the LORD. 13 He shall lay his hand on its head and kill it before the tabernacle of meeting; and the sons of Aaron shall sprinkle its blood all around on the altar. 14 Then he shall offer from it his offering, as an offering made by fire to the LORD. The fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that ison the entrails, 15 the two kidneys and the fat that is on them by the flanks, and the fatty lobe attached to the liver above the kidneys, he shall remove; 16 and the priest shall burn them on the altar as food, an offering made by fire for a sweet aroma; all the fat is the LORD’s. 
17 ‘This shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwellings: you shall eat neither fat nor  Blood.

The Hebrew word for peace means “wholeness, completeness, soundness, health.” When a person has all these they are at peace. The peace offerings were at times of feasting, drinking, talking, singing, and enjoying salvation as a great gift from God. Repentance and reconcilation must come before geniune fellowship with God. Also comes to mind Psalm 100 which is known as a pslam of thanksgiving.

Psalm 100

A Psalm of Thanksgiving.

 1 Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands!
 2 Serve the LORD with gladness;
         Come before His presence with singing.
 3 Know that the LORD, He is God;
         It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;[a]
         We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. 
         
 4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
         And into His courts with praise. 
         Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
 5 For the LORD is good;
         His mercy is everlasting, 
         And His truth endures to all generations.

We need to realize that God is our creator and give us all that we have.Some people live life as if they are the creator and that they are the center of their own little world, that kind of thinking leads to greed and possessiveness. If they should lose everything then a loss of all hope occurs. When we understand that God is the source of everything that we have, we want to give to others as God has given to us. If all is lost, we still have God and all he gives us. We should remember God’s goodness and how we can depend upon Him and worship Him with thanksgiving and praise.

This Thanksgiving, as Americans join with family and friends to share a meal and give thanks to God for our many blessings, let us not forget the needs of those less fortunate than us. During times of joy as well as during times of suffering and pain, the Bible instructs us to turn our minds and our hearts towards God in prayer. Join with Christians and Jews around the world in heartfelt prayer for the peace and well-being of Israel, America, and the world.

  • Praise God as we celebrate Thanksgiving and give thanks for the many blessings He has bestowed. “You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you” (Nehemiah 9:6).

  • Pray for Fellowship friends struggling with unemployment. Pray that God will give them strength and perseverance and direct them towards resources that will help them find meaningful work. “Answer me quickly, O LORD; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit”(Psalm 143:7).

  • Pray for elderly Holocaust survivors in the former Soviet Union, who struggle to live on meager pensions. Pray that they will receive the basic necessities they need to survive, as well as love and kindness. “Feed the hungry and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness!” (Isaiah 58:10)

  • Pray for Fellowship-supported schools and orphanages in Israel and the former Soviet Union, that they will receive the funding they need to save desperate orphaned and abandoned children from a bleak future. “For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death”(Psalm 72:12-13).

  • Pray for an end to terror, and for the establishment of a true and lasting peace in Israel. “May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels. For the sake of my brothers and friends, I will say, ‘Peace be within you'” (Psalm 122:7-8).

Ok now lets go to the book of Matthew and look at his account of the Nativity. Matthew’s account is from the perspective of Joseph as Luke’s was from Mary’s perspective. Matthew’s likely got his account of Jesus birth directly from Joseph and Luke probably go his account directly from Mary. Matthew opens the New Testament with the genealogy of Jesus, the Old Testament opens with a genealogy of the creation. One opens with the genealogy of the creation and the other with the genealogy of the creator. There are about 400 years between the two testaments. In that time there were some changes in the culture of the region, there were political and cultural changes, Geographical chances, relgious changes,and changes in language and writing. We will dicuss these further in a different study for now just be aware that there were changes in the 400 years between the two testaments. The emphasis of the gospel of Matthew is that Jesus is the promised Messaih. Matthew was written between 50 and 60 AD. Matthew was adressing a mainly Jewish audience. Matthew quotes the OT more than any of the other NT authors. We pick up in Chapter one again with the genealogy of Jesus:

The Genealogy of Jesus Christ

 1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:
2 Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. 3 Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram. 4 Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon. 5 Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, 6 and Jesse begot David the king. 

   David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife[a] of Uriah. 7 Solomon begot Rehoboam, Rehoboam begot Abijah, and Abijah begot Asa.[b] 8 Asa begot Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat begot Joram, and Joram begot Uzziah. 9Uzziah begot Jotham, Jotham begot Ahaz, and Ahaz begot Hezekiah. 10 Hezekiah begot Manasseh, Manasseh begot Amon,[c] and Amon begot Josiah. 11 Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon.
12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jeconiah begot Shealtiel, and Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel. 13 Zerubbabel begot Abiud, Abiud begot Eliakim, and Eliakim begot Azor. 14 Azor begot Zadok, Zadok begot Achim, and Achim begot Eliud. 15 Eliud begot Eleazar, Eleazar begot Matthan, and Matthan begot Jacob. 16 And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ. 
17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon arefourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations.

The coming of the Christ had been anticipated from the early days of human history. God chose one family through which to bring the messiah, that was the family of Abraham, and later on a family within the larger family Abrahamic family, the one of David. Matthew’s genealogy is abriged, that was commonly done in genealogies, without invalidating the line of descent. There are 42 generations in three groups of 14 each and they cover a period of 2,000 years. ( the first group 1,000 years, the second group, 400 years, the third, 600 years.) The mention of women in a Jewish genealogy is rare but Matthew mentions four women, in addition to Mary, in this genealogy. What is interesting is the kind of women they were:

Tamar- who was involved in a scandal with Judah(Gen 38), Rahab, the Caananite harlot of Jericho ( Josh 2) Ruth , who was not an Israelite but a Moabite (Ruth 1:4) and Bathsheba, the wife of Uriahiah, a woman involed with King David is a sin of horendous proportions. Matthew here shows howq God’s grace forgives the darkest of sins and reaches beyond the nation of Israel to the world. He also point out that God can lift the lowest and place them in royal lineage.