Christmas is the time of year when credit cards are maxed out because we have a need to give gifts to friends and family. We want the people who matter to us to know that we care about them. Here’s a question: Can you remember what gifts you were given last Christmas? Most of the gifts that are exchanged are items that will be outgrown, worn out, broken, or obsolete within a short time. Remember a few years ago when Tickle Me Elmo was the most popular gift to give? Did you ever give or receive a Pet Rock as a gift? It’s hard to resist fads, but by next year there will be another “must have” gift.
With all of the hustle and bustle of shopping, baking, and partying, it’s easy to forget that Christmas is the time to stop and recognize what we really should celebrate. We celebrate because 2,000 years ago (more or less), God gave the greatest gift of all… His Son. “Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given…” (Isaiah 9:6a). This was a prophecy of Isaiah many, many years before Christ was born, but it foretold of a human child born but God’s only begotten Son being given.
It is certainly within God’s power to have popped into the world fully grown and ready to take over the duties of the Messiah. The Old Testament is full of instances when The Angel of the Lord would appear to men. For example, it was “the Angel of the LORD” who found Hagar when she was running away from Sarai (Genesis chapter 16), the Angel of the LORD stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac (Genesis chapter 22), and it was the Angel of the LORD who spoke to Moses from the burning bush in Exodus chapter 3. These are a few examples of times when Jesus appeared to people before His birth in Bethlehem.
God’s ways are not our ways; His ways are higher than our ways. In order to redeem what Adam lost, He had to be human… a near kinsman to humans. “For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:16-17).
In order to accomplish this, God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, came upon Mary, a virgin, and she became pregnant. Jesus’ father could not be human because that would have tainted His blood with the same sin nature that plagues all of mankind. Genetically, a father passes to his son certain traits. These traits would have disqualified Jesus from shedding His blood to take away our sin. Because Mary was human, so was Jesus. Because the Holy Spirit is God, so was Jesus. He was born fully human but fully God.
The prophet Isaiah had a lot to say about the coming Messiah, and he told of signs to look for. “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). As with so many Hebrew names, Immanuel describes the person. Immanuel means “God with us,” and that describes Jesus. The name “Jesus” also is descriptive. It means “Jehovah is salvation.” Truly, Jesus was God with us and is forever our salvation.
Many sons have been born since Eve gave birth to Cain, who was born after Adam sinned. Adam and Eve must have been heartbroken when they saw the ugliness of sin manifest when Cain killed his brother Abel. God had clearly told Adam not to eat from the tree of knowledge. “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17).
Adam did eat that fruit. Eve had a chat with Satan and ate the fruit. Then she convinced Adam to eat it too. If only they had obeyed God. God knows so much more than we do, and when He says don’t do something, our sin nature convinces us that God is only trying to stop us from having fun. If we would listen to and obey God, we wouldn’t have murders or lies or homosexuality or any of the other sins that separate us from God. We can never heal that separation by our own efforts. Only God can, which is why He entered His creation as a helpless baby… a baby like any other baby, but unlike any other baby, His father was God. It was the plan of salvation that was devised by God long before Adam sinned.
There are many “pictures” in the Old Testament that reveal God’s plan, and Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac is one of those pictures. We know the story of Abraham and Sarah. God promised Abraham that he would be the father of nations, but when his wife Sarah was long past childbearing age and Abraham himself was very old, they still hadn’t had children. So, they “helped” God by Abraham impregnating Sarah’s handmaid, Hagar. Ishmael was born, but he wasn’t the promised son. Years later, Sarah did become pregnant, just as God had promised. Isaac was that son of promise.
One day, Abraham was tested by God “And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of” (Genesis 22:2). Abraham obeyed. Isaac was not a child but an adult who went willingly with Abraham. Can you imagine the heartache Abraham suffered as they traveled on a three-day journey to the place God had directed him to?
God never requires human blood as a sacrifice, so this seems unusual. When the altar was ready, Isaac had a question, and Abraham had an answer. “And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” (Genesis 22:7). Good question, Isaac! God wants us to be a living sacrifice to Him, meaning we submit to His will in spite of our selfish desires. Abraham knew Isaac was the son of promise, so he knew that somehow God wouldn’t allow Isaac to die. “And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together” (Genesis 22:8).
Notice the words Abraham chose… God will provide himself a lamb. And so, He did. As Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac, the Angel of the LORD stopped him, and Abraham saw a ram stuck in a thicket, which God had provided for the sacrifice. More than that, it was on this hill that, many centuries later, God truly provided Himself as the sacrificial lamb… the only begotten Son of God allowed Himself to be sacrificed on a cross. He shed His blood to take away the sin of the world.
Jesus Christ, God incarnate, willingly took on human form to qualify as our Kinsman Redeemer. He was humbly born in a manger as a baby, and He grew up with Joseph as His adoptive father and Mary as his human mother. He had brothers and sisters because Joseph and Mary had children, but Jesus was God’s Son, given because God loves us. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
That verse is probably the most beloved passage of Scripture; the 23rd Psalm might run it a close second. God showed perfect love to us when He gave His Son to pay the ransom for our sin. There is no gift more valuable or precious than God’s gift of His Son. God had a plan for the redemption of mankind, a gift of love from our blessed Creator.
We give many gifts at Christmas time, and to be of any use, the gifts we give must be accepted. Have you accepted God’s free Gift of Salvation? The reason we celebrate Christmas is to celebrate God’s gift of His Son. Remember God’s love and tell someone about salvation through Jesus Christ. God’s gift is free for the asking, but it was very costly for God. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
You won’t find this gift wrapped in pretty shiny paper and tied up with ribbons under a Christmas tree. It certainly won’t say it’s from Santa Claus. We celebrate the birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. True faith in His death, burial, and resurrection will bring forgiveness of the sin that separates you from God. Share this gift with others and thank God for His gift by submitting to Him.
Eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge brought death to Adam, Eve, and all of humanity since their sin. Not only the death of separation of soul and body but the death of eternal separation from God. The Good News is God gave His Son as the final sacrifice to atone for our sin. “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17). God wants you to live with Him for eternity. Place your faith in Him now.
One day every knee will bow to Him, and He will reign supreme… the King of kings, the Lord of lords “…and the government shall be upon his shoulder and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, 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, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:6b-7).
God gave His Son so that you and I can spend eternity with Him. Accept that gift today and share it with others. Celebrate Jesus every day.
God bless you all,
Recommended prophecy sites:
All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God-breathed.
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