Matthew 2:7-8 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find Him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship Him."
Matthew 2:13 When the "wise men" had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and His mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill Him."
There has been a concerted effort to eliminate the word "Christmas" from public discourse, especially in the United States, where there is a (sort of) "War on Christmas." The stories seem to be more frequent: a grade-school choir sings "We Wish You a Happy Holiday" instead of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" for their "Winter Concert." A library invites "holiday displays" from the community, provided the displays have no religious connotation—the stable may have animals in it, but no people.
It is possible to do all your Christmas shopping and never see or hear the word "Christmas" in many stores. Of course, there's nothing wrong with saying "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings." Considering that for over 2,000 years the enemies of the Cross, the secularists, have been unsuccessful in removing Jesus Christ from the lives, hearts and mouths of human beings, it is no wonder they have stooped so low as to attempt to remove Christmas from the world. Why is the word "Christmas" censored? Why do some public schools celebrate La Befana the Christmas witch, yet ban the Nativity, all in the name of "inclusion" and "tolerance"?
One school's "Winter Program" features a secularized version of the traditional Christmas carol "Silent Night" with the following lyrics:
"Cold in the night, no one in sight;
Winter winds whirl and bite.
How I wish I were happy and warm,
Safe with my family out of the storm."
Oddly enough, these secularists that reject all forms of religion and worship still encourage the giving of gifts so that the economy will not suffer, but without the presence of the Gift Himself. So we can have a stable, animals and gifts, but no people. How ridiculous.
Christmas. What does it mean to you personally? Most of us have experienced a Christmas without Christ's presence, and it's like celebrating a birthday and arranging a party, gifts and guests, without the Person whose birthday it is being present! There's no fun in that.
The Life of Jesus
From the time He was born to the present, there has been a deliberate effort to get rid of Jesus. A percentage of the human race has tried to make Him disappear. After the resurrection, from the time of His birth to the time of His death, there were plots to assassinate Him. King Herod killed all the little boys who were two years of age and under in an attempt to destroy this new King. While preaching in the synagogue, the people led Him out to a cliff and tried to cast Him off, and at the Feast of the Tabernacle they sought to kill Him. All the while, their reasoning was that this could not possibly be the Christ, however, this was based on their own perspective of what a "Christ" should be like.
Jesus? A King? How could it be? Joseph was a carpenter and Mary a peasant girl. Yet the Magi traveled for days to see and worship the newborn King. The Wise Men, or more correctly, Magi, were Eastern astrologers. Oddly enough, these Magi were more prophetic than those who were living in Israel at the time. Astrology was a sophisticated science in this era, and they were Gentiles who had come to worship with great joy, in contrast to the Jewish hostility at the time.
After they had knelt before the young Jesus, the first of the Magi opened the latches of a strongbox, pushed open the lid and there was Gold! "For the King," he said simply, and then prostrated himself before the child. Can you imagine little Jesus as He woke up and sat there watching intently? The second visitor opened his box and the fragrance of exotic spices flooded the room. Can you imagine as Jesus sniffed and peered into the box? The second visitor prostrated himself before the child. Then the final visitor brought his gift in a fragile alabaster box. I can imagine him opening it, and suddenly...the smell of death. Heavy and rich...myrrh, used to anoint the bodies of the dead. This was a strange gift for a baby, even a royal one.
These Wise Men were not ignorant of the plan God had for this young King. They had seen the star in the East, which told them that a great King had been born among the Jews, greater than any on Earth. These Wise Men were, in fact, deeply prophetic and were the first amongst men to recognize and worship the Son of God, the King of the Jews and Savior of the world. As trained students of the stars, the Wise Men observed an unexplained phenomenon in the Heavens, which was somehow interpreted by them as a sign of the birth of the King of the Jews.
What a contrast to the lesser knowledgeable King Herod. Instead of guidance from the Heavens, he had to gather all the chief priests and scribes to inquire of them where the Christ was to be born. After they had searched the PROPHETS in the Holy Bible, they discovered that from Bethlehem was where the Ruler would arise. Herod sent the Wise Men to bring the child back to him so that he could "worship" Him as well.
I believe that we are seeing a re-occurrence of this event in our day. People are searching the skies for a sign of the manifestation of God's glory, and those who are being led to Christ are ignorant of the devices of religion. We see people searching for God through psychics, fortunetellers, horoscopes, the study of celestial objects, astrophysics, cosmology, clairvoyants and many other celestial avenues, whether divinities or angels, dungeons and dragons or simply the "stars" on the silver screen. The "world" is searching the heavenlies for a sign to point them in the right direction. There is a war in the Heavens against the Christ, but this time they are endeavoring to destroy Him through legislation, just like Herod did, and the saddest part of all is that it affects the children. What harm does Christmas do to children? They experience love, warmth, joy and gifts. What a wonderful time to be close together.
The idea of gift giving at Christmas goes back to the Scripture in Matthew 2:10-11, which talks about the Magi giving gifts to Jesus, "When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with His mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh."
The Bible gives a wonderful story about the gift God gave us—Jesus Christ—and we can use it as an opportunity to show love. Does the giving of gifts take away from the true meaning of Christmas? No, it does not. If we focus on the wonderful gift of salvation that God has given us (Isaiah 9:6), then giving to others is a natural expression of that gratitude. The key is our focus. Is your focus on the gift, or on the ultimate Gift-Giver, our Father in Heaven?
James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights...
Let us pray on Christmas day: Be my peace, O Prince of Peace. Let its gentle, joyful blanket comfort my nervous soul, and still the warring of Your Earth. Welcome Christ. All my life I needed You. O Child of Promise, this Christmas morning I give to You my heart. Amen.
Enjoy your families, loved ones and especially the children during this beautiful Christmas season. Remember the joys you felt as a child around this holiday and let's all actively attempt to bring that same feeling of joy and glee to the children around us. In fact, I would like to encourage you all to make an effort this year to locate a less-fortunate child around you and take them for hot chocolate or ice skating or even share a gift with them so that they too can feel that wonderful feeling of Christ's love on Christmas.
Jane and I would like to wish you all a very Merry CHRISTMAS and God's very best for this New Year!
Prophetic Image Expressions