Wednesday, December 26, 2012

God Speaks to Three Men

Its the day after Christmas, and it was a good day with a feast with my Nancy and my bud Cliffy. We had room for more, but those places were not filled, sadly. We therefore watched Scrooge [the Alistair Sims version - the BEST], Miracle on 34th Street and read a short passage from our Bible: Luke chapter 2.

I could but help reflect that both films were about cynical and worldly people being brought to repentance, or to faith - and a belief that the miraculous may be true after all. We are amused by such films, and agree that we should be "nicer and better and keep 'the spirit of Christmas.'"

Bah, humbug!

We miss the point, when we think like that. The fact is, unless we are grabbed and I mean in a "No, I Am Not Joking" sort of way by God, we refuse to repent of our well-established habits and mindsets.

A conservative must become charitable. A liberal must become lawful. We agree, Virginia, but only God can effect a proper heart change. God grabs hold of men by the very things they love, I have noticed - or depended on - to show them the truth.

OK, bold statements, I grant you, but let's see how God showed Christ to three different kinds of men. Let's check out their reactions to a itty bitty baby.

Example One: The Shepherds
The shepherds keeping their flocks by night were a rougher sort - and very uneducated. They would be similar to our Old West cowboys. Able to handle dumb animals and perhaps wise, they would be low on the ladder of professional respect. It was a job a child could do [cf. King David as a youth]. But still angels appeared to them, terrifying them and consoling them simultaneously. They were told to find the child in a feeding trough and when they saw that newborn wrapped in cloths, like a little mummy, they spilled the beans to mom and dad about what they had seen.

That must have been a sight, eh? A group of men shuffling up to a stable [or half-stable, half cave] in the middle of the night? How do you introduce yourself?
"'am...? That there your baby?"
"What do you men want?" asks Joseph, not too friendly and grabbing his walking staff.
"Sir, I sure am sorry to bother you and the missus. You are NOT going to believe this, but..."

And in seconds, Joseph is wide-eyed. Mary is stunned.

These rough shepherds would peer in to see the savior of the world laying in a place where they had thrown hay and feed a thousand times before. "He looks a lot better than what we put in there, don't he boys?" comments one. Chuckling and awe might've followed.

Then they told everyone what had happened. Unlike Mary, they just couldn't keep their big traps shut.

Fast forward a year or so.

Example Two: The Wise Men
Our cute little Christmas pageants and films screw this up, for the sake of brevity and comprehensiveness.

The fact is, the magi from the East, the "Wise Men", came roughly a year or so later. These men that came to see Jesus were men of wealth and power. We can see this in their extravagant gifts and their willingness [and ability] to travel so far from their homelands. They would have had a lot in common with Father Abraham who came from the land of Ur.

They only saw the stars, yet made an audacious journey based on it. Also, they were granted a secret audience with King Herod the Great! [Imagine if you had a secret meeting with the President of the United States-how important would you have to be to get that kind of audience?]

And when these pre-astronomers/astrologers saw Jesus, they worshiped Him. They sacrificed their wealth and their time to merely see Him. They were deadly serious and went a long way to see the King.

By their awesome gifts, they did something wonderful. They empowered Mary and Joseph to escape the next men who were coming to see Jesus: Herod's men. They were NOT going to worship Him as Herod had said to the magi.

God's cool, but He's nobody's fool.

Example Three: Herod's Men

King Herod only met with the magi to find out the threat to his throne. He got the location from his scholars - Bethlehem. He got the timing from the magi: the child had been born less than two years ago.

But then Herod chose, in anger and fear, to order the death of every male child under the age of two in Bethlehem. Like the recent events in Connecticut, there was a slaughter of innocent children. We have no idea how many. Some scholars doubt it happened, but it would fall perfectly in line with the style of this king.

The lesson I want to share though is not why God permits evil men to do evil things. God did not stop Cain from killing Abel, Moses from killing an Egyptian or David from committing adultery. No, what I want to share is this: God speaks to both the evil and the good.

He spoke to Cain BEFORE He killed Abel. He spoke to Moses AFTER he killed the Egyptian. He spoke to David THROUGH Nathan the prophet.

God speaks - in the stars, in our hearts, in our minds. Some listen with joy. Others with terror and fear. Some repent. Some get angry.

The magi had to travel hundreds of miles. The shepherds only had to travel two or three at the most. The wise men, who were brilliant, had to follow stars. The shepherds, who were uneducated servants, had to listen to angels. But for both of them, there was humility in their actions, a willingness to leave what they knew for the unknown. They were rewarded with joy, hope, awe.

But Herod's men? They listened to no one but Herod. They were given fear, and they did whatever he ordered, lest they lose their own lives. Herod was known for executing anyone whom he thought threatened his throne. This included wives. This included sons.

Herod died soon after this, for your information. Eaten by worms, if I remember correctly.

He did not keep his kingdom, yet Christ ended up conquering the hearts and minds of the Roman Empire.

My Hope for You
May your journey to Christ be quick.

May you listen to the angels.

May you be a wise man.

May you be a serving shepherd.

For in these dark days, only those who find Him have peace.


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