As we approach Christmas, it is the season that church has, historically, called Advent. I thought I would re-share some old thoughts about Christmas in this time. Hymn numbers are from the 2008 Baptist Hymnal (which the Apostle Paul would not have used, since he didn’t speak English), but it was the hymnal I had when I wrote this. Apart from Scripture quotes, the copyright on this completely mine.
“For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes.” John 12:35 (NASB95)
The sensation that is myrrh, though, does not stop in everyday use. Myrrh was a portion of the anointing oil of the Tabernacle. In fact, it was the largest portion of this oil. Exodus 30 records this oil and its purposes. Whatever was touched by this oil was considered holy. It was to be used on the priests and the implements of sacrifice. It was used on the altar and on the Ark of the Covenant.
The Ark of the Covenant was the symbol of the center of God’s presence in those times. He never expresses Himself as limited to wherever the Ark is, but for the Israelites of those years, the Ark was where they could know God certainly was. The Ark was to be kept near to the altar for sacrifice and to be kept separate from the people by a heavy curtain.
Why? Because the presence of God is so great that people cannot stand before Him. He is beyond humanity in holiness and righteousness and is unapproachable by us. In this desperation, we carry a sense of despair.
Yet the gift of myrrh shows us a sense of destiny. In the earlier covenant, God’s presence was represented by the Ark of the Covenant. In the end, though, it’s just a gold-covered box. True, the artwork is magnificent and the item carries immense historical value. The Old Testament contains a few references to God’s power affecting the Ark. In the end, though, it remains a box that God chose to use.
Jesus is different than the Ark. He is not merely the symbol of the presence of God, but the Incarnate God Himself. Incarnate means to “put on flesh,” and that is what God does through the manger. He puts on flesh. He becomes one of us, though He does not discard His true Godhood at the same time.
The myrrh He receives should draw to mind all the holy objects that were anointed with myrrh in the Old Testament. Christ fulfills the need for those and exceeds their value. He becomes the One who can bring men to God. He is eternal, which the Tabernacle, the Temple, and the Ark have proven not to be. His destiny was shown in the myrrh: He will go past the heavy curtain, He is the Holiest.
Scripture passage for the day: 1 Timothy 6:15-16 (HCSB)
“God will bring this about in His own time.
He is the blessed and only Sovereign,
the King of kings, and the Lord of lords,
the only One who has immortality,
dwelling in unapproachable light; no one has seen or can see Him,
to Him be honor and eternal might. Amen.”
Hymn for the day: Good Christian Men, Rejoice! #183
Prayer: Almighty, Most Holy God, I cannot express enough my gratitude at what You have done for me. The more I know myself, the more I realize that it took more than I could ever do to come to You. My sin, my heart, my affections are rarely clear as they should be. Thank You for making the way through the veil for me. I know that it cost Jesus His blood, and it is in His name I pray, Amen.
PS: One of my favorite music groups/happenings is Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox. I can’t say that we’d use too many of their arrangements in church, but this one’s great: