Perceptions of The Nativity

nativityI have thought much, this last few weeks during the run-up to Christmas, of some of our perceptions attaching to the place and circumstances of Jesus’ birth.

A lot of what we think seems to have come from the statement of Paul at Philippians 2:7 which says,   “…but he humbled Himself, taking the form of a bond servant, and coming in the likeness of men.”  From this we get ideas about Jesus, the circumstances of His life, and the details of His birth, that pervade the whole Christmas story.  We get the wrong impression that Jesus was born in undesirable, impoverished conditions.

Several years ago, I heard a very interesting viewpoint put forward by Pastor Robert H Shuller that while the innkeeper in Bethlehem has had bad press because he failed to find a lodging for Joseph and Mary, the stable they finally found to lodge in was probably a blessing in disguise.  Pastor Shuller pointed out that with a large number of people on the move to register in their own cities for the first Roman census, towns and inns would have been packed with all manner of people, making a crowded inn probably not the best place for the Son of God to be born.

That REALLY spoke to me.

So I would like to take the reasoning a step further.   When you look at the preparations for Jesus’ birth, His Heavenly Father went to great trouble to set the stage:

1)   The birth of Jesus’ forerunner and cousin, John the Baptist, was special in itself, because his parents were elderly and his mother barren.  God sent the angel Gabriel to announce the birth to the father (a priest of the temple).  God gave Zacharias a clear sign as proof, and also oversaw the naming of the boy.  (Luke 1)

2)   We also know that angels appeared to both Mary and Joseph concerning the birth of Jesus. Gabriel appeared to Mary to announce that she would have the baby, and an unnamed angel appeared to Joseph in a dream to quiet his concerns about Mary’s pregnancy. (Luke 1, Matthew 1)

3)   The birth of Jesus was announced to the Magi, powerfully enough that they undertook a long journey from the east to bring Him gifts.  We are not told how they were told this, but it can only have been by some form of supernatural revelation. (Matthew 2:1-2)

4)   Jesus’ birth was announced by an angel and the heavenly host appearing to shepherds in the fields near Bethlehem.  And before we write the shepherds off totally, let us remember that for many people in Israel, their wealth lay in their herds and so protecting their livestock was a high priority.  Think of David.

In other words, Jesus’ birth was announced both to certain wise and wealthy men who were prepared to honor Him (as the wealthy of His own country were not), and to men from the lower classes whom He came to save – men from the very occupation that He was to use as an illustration of His ministry in calling Himself  ‘The Good Shepherd’.  (Luke 2:8-17)

Are we to assume then in the midst of all this preparation that God somehow made a mistake in designating the place where Jesus was to be born and ended up with an undesirable result? 

That doesn’t make sense.

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Let’s look at a few other places where God made supernatural provision for Jesus:

5)   Because Herod had become aware of Jesus’ birth from the Magi, and was plotting to kill him, God took the following steps:

  • The Magi were warned in a dream not to return via Herod (who had asked  for directions so he could find the child), so they went back another way. (Matthew 2:7-8, 12)
  • An angel warned Joseph in a dream that Herod was looking to kill the child, and instructed him to take Mary and Jesus and flee with them to Egypt.  This he did, and remained there until Herod died – at which time Joseph was advised by an angel in a dream that it was safe to return.  (Matthew 2:13-14, 19-21)

6)   Towards the end of his life, when Jesus came back to Jerusalem for the last time, His need for a mount to carry Him into the city was met by the supplying of a donkey.   Clearly, there must have been a divine forewarning given to the owner of the donkey, so he was prepared to let it be taken and used by people who just turned up on his doorstep.   (Matthew 21:1-7)

7)   Later, when Jesus needed a place to hold the Last Passover supper with His disciples, His need was met in a similar way.  (Matthew 26:1-7, Luke 22:8-13)    Obviously, there are other examples.

So what does all this add up to?  I believe first and foremost we must stop demeaning the place and surroundings of Jesus’ birth.  Yes, there is simplicity and a message in it, but not the message we have been taking.

I’ve already made Pastor Shuller’s point that a room at the inn was unsuitable.   By comparison, the stable was a place of peace where God’s holiness and glory could shine out around this most special of births.   What a moment that must have been for The Father!   The animals that surrounded Jesus in His first hours were God’s creation – creatures that He loves.  They were and still are the innocent ones, with more understanding than we give them credit for.  And did I read in a recent publication where a man of God called them ‘dirty’?  Hmmm….

Remember, it was an innocent animal that had to be killed to provide covering for Adam and Eve after they sinned, and through all the history of Israel up to the time of Jesus’ death, it was animals that had to die as sacrifices for the sins of the people.

Now Jesus, the Lamb of God, had come to take that burden upon Himself.

Patricia

http://damascusroad.news/

I Make All Things New

new-lion If there is one message that comes consistently through most of the prophetic utterances of recent months, it is this:  God is moving in a new way – he is opening up the Kingdom Age upon this earth, releasing new change, doing new things, and breaking bondages.

These prophecies, and recent events around the world, are an exciting confirmation that our God is truly the master creator, that He has not finished (and never will finish) creating, that man was made and called to work with Him, and that He has not taken His hand off the wheel – although there are times when, in our limited perception, He seems to have forsaken us.

These prophecies are also a vindication of many years of prayer by spirit-filled intercessors world wide.  Why should that be?

We need to remember our beginnings:  that God created us to manage His creation, to walk with Him in the cool of the day to strategize, and plan, and fellowship.  Making a huge investment in man, He also limited Himself by arranging our relationship so that the exercise of His power on earth needs the acquiescence (ie prayers) of His people to fully release it.  If you doubt me on this, Dutch Sheets’ excellent book “Intercessory Prayer” is regarded by many as the best guide and explanation out there, as to why intercession is so important.

As an example, check out 1 Kings 18  where God used His prophet Elijah to deal with the wicked king Ahab:
And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, show yourself to Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.

And Elijah went to show himself to Ahab. And there was a sore famine in Samaria.” (1 Kings 18:1-2)   We know from James 5:17-18 that this drought and famine had been brought on 3 years previously by Elijah’s prayers at God’s request.  The story continues:

And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said to him, Is that you, the one who troubles Israel?

And he answered, I haven’t troubled Israel; but you, and your father’s house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and you have followed the idols of Baal.

Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel to mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table.”  (1 Kings 18:17-19)

There follows a test of strength between Elijah and the 450 prophets of Baal, to prove whether Baal or Jehovah is the true god.  This is a must read at 1 Kings 18:20-40, and it culminates in the total defeat of Baal and the vindication of Jehovah.

So the people are overcome, and turn from their wicked ways.  Now comes the illustration of intercessory prayer to restore rain upon the land:

And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees, [the birthing position]

And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again – seven times [seven is God’s number of perfection and completion].

And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there arises a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand.   And he said, Go up, say to Ahab, Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.

And it came to pass in the meanwhile, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel.

And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.” (1 Kings 42-46)

Why would God limit Himself to needing man’s prayers in this way?  For one big reason – He wanted that relationship, that fellowship, that companionship – and He wanted it freely given by beings with a choice.  He did not want to work with a bunch of robots and He didn’t want to rule the world like a despot – and if we imagine ourselves in His situation, we can most certainly buy into that.  It is a beautiful plan.

God has a vision of what He wants in eternity, and it includes man – a redeemed man – working alongside and fellowshipping with Him, and it has taken the sacrifice of Jesus to make that possible.

So we need to remember that it is not God, but man, who delays the fulfillment of this great partnership.

In the Book of Revelation, John wrote:
And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.”  (Revelation 21:5)

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This is God’s promise for the future – the end times future. But I believe it also has relevance right now, when He is getting ready to pour out His spirit on the earth and we can expect renewal, restoration and change in many things, including the churches – and great revivals.

We need to be open-minded enough to accept change, and the new ways God is revealing Himself to people on this earth, because THAT is changing radically.  We also need to press forward with intercessory prayer to enable the fulfillment of God’s plans for renewal at this present time.

Go, prayer warriors, go!!

Blessings,

Patricia

I Will

i-will-icon“I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth…

“If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die.

“They have power to shut up the heavens so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want.”

Revelation 11: 3, 5-6.

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It is thought that these Two Witnesses when they come will be the reincarnations of Elijah and Moses (or Enoch). They will be God’s final outpouring to turn people to Him before the end.   Once their work is done, the Antichrist will be able to kill them, and their bodies will be left lying in the streets of Jerusalem for 3 days. They will then revive and be taken up in the sight of all onlookers, as proof of the validity of their message and works. (Revelation 11:11-13)

The timing of the arrival of these two witnesses is as yet uncertain but it will not occur until after the Antichrist has made his appearance.

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“Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Abstract acrylic background, capital I hand drawn in gold ink – Artwork and Products available in the Damascus Road Gallery.  Or click on the images.

Patricia

http://damascusroad.news

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