|Posted on December 7, 2018 at 7:25 AM|
Image by Ben White from Freely Photos.
My Boaz and I love our pilgrimage to Frankenmuth every Christmas season. We love to go into Bronners, an amazing Christmas-everything store! It is major Christmas overload in that place. While we've been building our house, we scoped out a particular nativity set for our large front yard. Each piece is life-sized plastic that can be lit at night. I have to say that Joseph in that set looks a bit like Chuck Norris! My imagination has him breaking out into an aerial kick with a, "Hai-ah!", landing back into his humble pose. This year, my hubby thought we should get it, so we stopped at Bronners. Many of the displays have been redesigned which made our hunt more challenging. Much to our dismay, the nativity set we wanted was gone. When we asked a clerk about it, he apologetically said, “With internet shopping nowadays, most people are buying them online.” I checked their website -- the only piece for that nativity set is a single lamb! He might as well have said to check on Amazon.com. So we continue to search for that nativity-- online. *Sigh*
Read: Luke 1:31-35
Companion passages: Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:22-23
Ancient Israel sought the Messiah since Isaiah's time. According to the Prophet Isaiah, the Messiah would be born by a virgin (Isaiah 7:14). Israel was in exile, begging God to deliver them and restore them to their own land. Several hundred years passed when they were under Roman rule by the time Jesus was actually born. God’s chosen people mistakenly sought a Deliverer of the military sort (RZIM). After all, that is how God deliverered Israel in the past such as the Exodus with Moses, brought to Canaan through Joshua, and many other God-appointed leaders. They sought what they knew, but they forgot how God acted in their past when all Israel needed to do was be still, God would fight for them (Exodus 14:14). It was not time yet in ancient Rome when the Jews rose up against the Roman government in 66AD (Brittanica). Jersualem fell in 70 AD. Jesus predicted this in Luke 19:44, Matthew 21:6. And it did. It was a slaughter. King Herod the Great took his army to Masada in the Judean dessert in 73 AD to preserve Israel, mostly interested in his own life. He built an amazing fortress that was taken by the Roman armies. It still stands today as a testament to the need for Israel to protect it’s freedom. Jewish students are taken there by their schools every year to be reminded of this event and the need to fight to the death for Israel’s freedom. We visited the ruins of Masada on a balmy 103 degree Fahrenheit day. I was overwhelmed by the thought of their pain of losing to Roman forces, but to fight so in such blazing hot, dry conditions was unimaginable.
Israel Still Seeks the Messiah
Current traditional Jewish thought is the maschiach (savior) would be a political leader, a human being rather than a supernatural being, would be raised up by God in the Messianic age. Israel still seeks their messiah from among their ranks (www.jewfaq.org/mashiach.htm). Our guide for the Israel tour we took last year claimed to be a completed Jew, meaning he found Jesus to be the Messiah his people still seek. He also believes Jesus will be back sometime in the future, just as described in John 14:1-3, Mark 13:32. Currenly, the Dome of the Rock, an Islamic shrine built in the 7th century, sits on the top of the Jewish temple from Jesus’ time (Brittanica). The ancient temple entrance is sealed off. Archeologists continue to dig underneath having uncovered portions of the wailing wall deep down below the streets. The Jews believe the Ark of the Covenant is inside the Wailing Wall under the altar of the Temple (Temple Institute). Jewish officials hope to recover it bringing back the presence of God in Israel hen the Messiah comes to restore Israel. Our tour guide believes that the Messiah has already come.
When we visited the site where it is believed Jesus was born, we were amazed to enter a cave below the Church of the Nativity. According to our tour guide, history indicates this to be the true site of Jesus’ birth. Keep in mind that caves were commonly used to keep livestock in acient times. Israel was not looking for a baby born in a cave where animals were kept behind an Inn with no vacancies during the census, of which Mary and Joseph were required to register. They were looking for something very different. A few people got it then, but many did not. The shepherds in the field knew where to find the Nativity because the angels told them. Ancient wise men were led to see where He was by a unique star that rested over Mary and Joseph's home when Jesus was around 2 years old, yet a different Nativity scene with same Messiah. But King Herod could not find Him because God protected Him from harm. Why could simple shepherds and wise men from cities far away find the right Nativity, when others could not? Because they truly sought the Messiah whom God sent in the manner He sent Him-- a baby with very humble beginnings.
Whom Do We Seek?
Some have found the Messiah, our Savior Jesus, today. Many still have not. Those who still look for Truth look for the wrong thing in all the wrong places. Even though we were looking for a particular nativity set to display in front of our home, we see fewer nativities displayed at Christmas time on people’s lawns. It isn’t as popular as other displays, probably because many people don’t understand its significance. Do we look to the Nativity as a reminderJesus’ humble entrance into the world to come deliver us from our sins (Luke 2:34)? Or do we seek what is popular? Seek Jesus while He may be found. Seek Him with all your heart.
May God bless you!