Christmas

From the Archives – Peace on Earth

The gospel according to Luke records that on the night of Jesus’ birth an angel of the Lord appeared to shepherds keeping watch over their flocks in a field outside the Judean village of Bethlehem. The angel announced “good news of great joy” which included the benediction: “Peace on earth” (Luke 2:10, 14).

Peace had come to earth in a person. The “Prince of Peace,” prophesied centuries earlier by the prophet Isaiah had come (Isaiah 9:6). In a mystery never to be fully fathomed, the “Mighty God” and “Everlasting Father” was born a child with flesh and blood to dwell on earth for a season (Isaiah 7:14, 9:6; John 1:14). And as the Bible repeatedly demonstrates, whenever the living God comes to dwell among his people, he always brings peace.

But what is peace? The word is not difficult to define. Peace is the calm that prevails in the absence of war. It is the serenity that marks freedom from hostilities, strife or dissension. Peace is a paucity of agitation, upheaval or chaos. Although used in an array of contexts, the definition is fairly straightforward.

Peace is far more difficult to identify and experience. There is peace which is really no peace at all. False peace shatters many lives and poisons many souls. There is peace in the midst of hostility—peace that operates at full throttle in the war zones of human experience. There is peace as ethical responsibility. There is peace we desperately want, but can do nothing to attain.

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I am very thankful that John 3:16 does not say, “For God so tolerated the world that he chose not to send his Son.”

"To coexist and cultivate forms of social cohesion are good things. Tolerance is vitally important. But tolerance of differences does not go far enough." - Paul Louis Metzger

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Isaiah 9:6-7, the Hebrew Text & the Ancient Versions

Reprinted with permission from As I See It, which is available free by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com.

Of Old Testament prophecies of the birth of the Messiah, among the most famous and well-known (in part because Handel included its words in his magnum opus, ”The Messiah”) is Isaiah 9:6, 7 (numbered 9:5, 6 in the Masoretic Hebrew text, the Septuagint Greek version and in German and some other translations). The KJV’s translation of vv. 6, 7 reads:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given. And the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David & upon his kingdom, to order it and to establish it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth and forever; the zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

Isaiah chapters 7 through 12 are all a connected unit presenting a progressive series of Messianic prophecies. Franz Delitzsch in his famous 19th century commentary on Isaiah wrote:

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Advent lessons in a genealogy: Jesus Is for Gentiles too

Reposted from The Cripplegate.

The gospel of of Matthew was the first biblical book to be written in over 400 years. And Matthew breaks the centuries of silence with…a genealogy.

He has a strategic reason for doing so—the goal of his book is to persuasively argue that Jesus is the Messiah, and so he starts by tying the person of Jesus to the history of the Jews, and particularly to the lines of David and Abraham.

Matthew is aware of the end of the story before he pens the beginning. He knows that Jesus was the Messiah, was crucified, resurrected, and ascended into heaven. More importantly, he knows why Jesus was rejected. In fact, the seeds of Jesus’ rejection were already sown in Jewish history. The very reasons the Pharisees, Sanhedrin, et. al., rejected Jesus were already evident in the ancestry of the Savior.

Last week we saw that the Jews rejected Jesus because he taught a salvation by faith apart from works, even though that is the consistent testimony of those in his genealogy. Today, we see a second reason Matthew opens with a genealogy:

The Jews Rejected Jesus because of the global nature of his message.

Jesus intentionally brought his message to outcasts. He preached “the gospel of the kingdom” to sinners, tax collectors, adulteresses, and zealots. But he also brought his message to Gentiles.

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How Many Christmas Presents Should Christian Parents Buy Their Children?

"I knew that my friends were receiving things like televisions, Nintendo games, new bicycles, basketball goals with break-away rims, and the latest Nike Jordan shoes. And I didn’t mind. In fact, I was thankful. My mom’s spirit and hard work caused me to realize that her love was a greater gift than the new Nikes I wanted." - John Ellis

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Merry Christmas from SharperIron

The Nativity, by Lorenzo Lotto, 1523. (Wikipedia)

Oil on panel, 18 1/8 × 14 1/8 in. from National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Beth-lehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:4–11)

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