Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christmas Insights 5

Meeting Our Needs Before We Knew We Had Them

Christmas time is when we open our Bibles and look at one of the most incredible stories again. I hope that this year, my blog is helping some of you experience what I am experiencing and not just looking, but learning and gleaning new insights from this familiar story.

Last time, we looked at the wise men, and at how God leads those who want to follow. Let’s stay with that story for one more kinda cool insight. I want to begin at the point where the wise men see the star and are led to Jesus.

(Mat 2:9) After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was.

(Mat 2:10) When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.

(Mat 2:11) After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Look at the gifts. I was once told that these signified the roles of Christ—although I cannot verify if that is true. However, it does sound neat. Anyway, these guys knew that they were going to visit a toddler, and they brought these gifts?

I think that they were expecting to find Jesus in a palace, not a small carpenter’s home with a poor family. They probably thought that their gifts, while they were good, would also fit right in with the rest of the decour so to speak. Instead, this would be like me giving a Crystal Chandelier to one of our Quechua friends in the Campo. They have no water, electricity, or sewage. Their home is a one room dung wall building. “Gee, thanks for the chandelier pastor Joe”.

But, they persevered and gave these palatial gifts to the poor family. After all, there were no Toys R Us nearby, whaddyagonna do?

After giving their gifts, they receive a supernatural sign, only this one is not a light in the sky, it is God in their dreams.

(Mat 2:12) And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.

So, the plot thickens. Now they are probably sick to their stomachs, thinking that they could have led the very enemy of Jesus to Him. In their innocence, they had proclaimed His existence, His birthplace, and His age to the most dangerous man in the land. They had practically put Jesus’ head on a plate for Herod to consume. How do you think they felt? What was going on in their minds? This was such a big deal that GOD HIMSELF spoke to them. God had spoken to Mary through Gabriel. He had spoken to Joseph through an angel in a dream. But this says that they were warned BY GOD not to return to Herod.

The danger is real. It is imminent. Joseph had not been there the night before, but he had returned…maybe in time to see the Wise Men leave, maybe not. However, he arrives and hears the story of what happened hours before, and then looks at the gifts. It is time for bed, so the family of three hit the hay so to speak. Then.

(Mat 2:13) Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him."

This is an emphatic command. It is a demand. It is an order from God Himself. Get out of bed and GO!!!

(Mat 2:14) So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt.

Joseph wakes up, grabs his family and what little they can carry, and they take off in the middle of the night. Now put yourself in his shoes. They had set up home here in this small village. It made sense. No one there would know, except the priest himself, that Mary was pregnant before they were married. All the townspeople would know was that this nice young couple came in town for the census and liked it…so they stayed. Joseph had developed some relationships or connected with distant family in the village and was now living in a home, and working in the town. He had safety, security, and a future. It was a short walk to the Holy City. How much sense did that make? Let’s raise the Son of God within a stone’s throw of the City of God, we can take Him to the Temple. He can get to know the Priests. He is the most important man that has ever lived, and is being raised outside of the most important city. This is all good.

Then, Joe has a dream. It is no mere dream, it is the angel again. He wakes up with adrenalin pumping.

You are in your house. It is a little after three in the morning. Suddenly, you wake up and know that you have about five minutes to get your family out and on the road or the bad guys will kill you all.

This scene happens over and over on the mission field. You have to be ready to go NOW. We can slightly relate to this, although without any fear of life. But we keep an evac pac on hand with money, passports, and other critical things. We must be ready to leave with a day’s notice…and with the reality of loosing every possession but life.

What do you do in this scenario? What would you take? You have to leave with your family now! You have no savings account. No credit cards. No network. Probably no horse, donkey, or carriage (a carpenter starting out would not have these things).

Look back at what he was told. Go to Egypt!

They have to flee in the night, right now. They are going to a place where they do not know anyone, have no possessions, no job, no relatives, and no real direction. They are fleeing, not traveling. Think of the horrid conditions of refugee camps all over the world where people have fled without anything in order to save their lives. This trip was a refugee flight. It was a race for life, and there was nothing on the other side of the finish line.

What did they use for money? How did they live there? Buy food? Pay for a home? Get established? How could Joseph, Jobless Joe, support his family in Egypt?

He had gold. He had frankincense. He had myrrh.

God met the need before Joseph knew that there was one.

He has done the same thing with us. Before you were born, Christ died for you. Before your first birth, God had provided the means for your second birth. Before you could comprehend what sin was, God had provided salvation from it.

This Christmas, do you know what you need? God does.

You need Jesus. And God has already given Him to you.



Caris said...

Encouraging, and true. Thanks!

Sabrina O'Malone said...

Amazing insight Joe. Thanks for posting this.