Skip to main content

Advent 2017 Week 3 Day 4

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.


“I will not take what is yours for the LORD  or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.” (King David) 1 Chronicles 21:24

It is easy for us to picture Christmas in light of the Hallelujah Chorus and sing “Wonderful! Counselor! The Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace!”  This is certainly the celebration of the overall character of Jesus of Nazareth, whose birth in Bethlehem anchors our celebrations. Yet Christians recognize not one Advent but two. The second is the one yet to come: when He returns and initiates the visible Kingdom of God in all things. The first Advent leads us to Bethlehem and the manger.

In the gap between the two Advents, something else had to happen. We return to the Old Testament for the picture of the system of sacrifices and offerings. Soon after Adam and Eve eat the fruit they should have left alone, we see Cain and Abel offering sacrifices. They take some of their labor and present it to God in both apology and gratitude.

The system develops, and then in Leviticus and the rest of the Law, God puts clear direction on sacrifices. There are clear examples and prescribed choices to be used as sacrifices. One key requirement was that any animal used as a sacrifice had to be as near to perfect as could be found. Diseased, lame, injured animals were not acceptable: God expected the best from His people.

A problem is evident, though, when you consider this. The best sacrifices are never quite good enough. The most sacrificing does for a lamb, ram, or turtle dove is hasten its death. It was going to die eventually. That blemish has been present ever since death entered this world at the hands of Adam and Eve. All living things die.

There was only one exception to that rule. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, He came without death within Him. He came in perfection to the imperfect world. He was spotless: His death was not guaranteed in the natural course of events.

Beyond this, His life never required His death for His own sin. He committed none in the years of earthly life. He was, and is, truly without spot and without blemish. He is the only One capable of being the sacrifice for sin.

Scripture passage for the day: 1 Peter 1:18–19 (HCSB)
“For you know that you were redeemed
from your empty way of life inherited from the fathers,
not with perishable things like silver or gold,
but with the precious blood of Christ,
like that of a lamb without defect or blemish.”

Hymn for the day: Blessed Redeemer #258

Prayer: Your holiness, O God, is more than I can bear. My spots and blemishes show up clearly in Your light. Thank You, Lord God, for Jesus who redeems me. In His name I pray, Amen.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Book Review: The Heart Mender by @andyandrews (Andy Andrews)

The Heart Mender: A Story of Second ChancesEver read a book that you just kind of wish is true?  That's my take on The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews.  It's a charming story of love and forgiveness, and it's woven into the historical setting of World War II America.  For the narrative alone, the book is worth the read, but the message it contains is well worth absorbing as well.However, let's drop back a minute.  This book was originally published under the title Island of Saints.  I read Island of Saints and enjoyed it greatly.  Now, Andrews has released it under a new title, with a few minor changes.  All of this is explained in the Author's Note at the beginning, but should be noted for purchaser's sake.  If you read Island of Saints, you're rereading when you read The Heart Mender.  Now, go ahead and reread it.  It will not hurt you one bit.Overall, the story is well-paced.  There are points where I'd like more detail, both in the history and the geog…

Abraham Lincoln Quoted by Jesus! Mark 3

Mark records a curious event in his third chapter (link). If you look at Mark 3:25, you'll see that Jesus quotes the sixteenth President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. After all, one of the highlights of the Lincoln years is his famous speech regarding slavery in the United States where he used the phrase that "a house divided against itself cannot stand." This speech was given in 1858 when he accepted the nomination to run against Stephen A. Douglas for Senate, but is still remembered as the defining speech regarding slaveholding in the United States. I recall being taught in school how brilliant and groundbreaking the speech was, how Lincoln had used such wise words to convey his thought. Yet the idea was not original to Lincoln. Rather, it was embedded in Lincoln from his time reading the Bible. Now, I have read varying reports about Lincoln's personal religious beliefs: some place him as a nearly completely committed Christian while others have him somewh…

Book: The Gospel Call and True Conversion

A quick note: This book, The Gospel Call and True Conversion, is currently available on Kindle for $4.99. This is the second in a series of 3, and the first, The Gospel’s Power and Message, is available for $2.99.The Gospel Call and True Conversion. The title of this book alone sounds intimidating, and adding that it’s written by one of the heavyweights of American Reformed Christianity, Paul Washer, does not lessen the intimidation factor. Washer is known to be a straightforward preacher—for good or for ill.What did I find in The Gospel call and True Conversion? I found some things to like:1. Paul Washer is passionate for the truth. He wants to know the truth. He wants to proclaim the truth. He wants the truth heard. He wants you to know the truth. This is good. It is good to see someone not try to base theology on popularity or as a response to modern events, but to base it clearly on truth. 2. There is a strong emphasis on the reality that true conversion (from the title) will resu…