ADVENT Story Revealed part 7

Birth of the King’s Herald

In history, every important person entering a city, a building was always preceded by a herald. The herald’s functions is tell the people those things they needed to know about the visiting VIP.

  • In Buckingham Palace, the entry of the queen is preceded by the royal page announcing “Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of her other realms and territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.”
  • In the Supreme Courtroom, the entry of the highest judge is announced by the court bailer with a title like this: All stand to The Honorable (full name), Chief Justice of the United States.

In this advent story, the Lord inspired Luke (a New Testament author) to start his Gospel not with the birth of the King of kings but with birth of His herald.

Luke 1:5a
In the days of Herod, king of Judea…
  • Herod, known as Herod the Great, was the puppet king of the Roman Empire which had violently expanded it’s military control into the Middleeast. Herod was a typical despot of the time.
  • Judea of the first century was inhabited mostly by the remnants of Israel that had returned from 75 years of exile in Babylon. The Judeans or the Jews then had survived 400 years of servitude to other nation states then to finally under Roman control.
Luke 1:5b-7
…there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years.

Again, does this sound familiar to the story of Abraham and Sarah? Well, it should. In the Bible, there are no coincidences.

Luke 1:8-10
Now it happened that while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division, according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering.

Luke 1:11-13
And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear gripped him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John.

What would be special about John?

Luke 1:14
“You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb.”

This baby will grow up to live a way of holy discipline that is hard for many to follow. In the Old Testament it was called the Law of the Nazirites.

Numbers 6:1-5
Again the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When a man or woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to dedicate himself to the LORD, he shall abstain from wine and strong drink; he shall drink no vinegar, whether made from wine or strong drink, nor shall he drink any grape juice nor eat fresh or dried grapes. ‘All the days of his separation he shall not eat anything that is produced by the grape vine, from the seeds even to the skin. ‘All the days of his vow of separation no razor shall pass over his head. He shall be holy until the days are fulfilled for which he separated himself to the LORD; he shall let the locks of hair on his head grow long.”

Now, we come to his task.

Luke 1:15-17
“And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

You would think that Zacharias would have jumped and danced, but instead…

Luke 1:18-22
Zacharias said to the angel, “How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years.” The angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. “And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.”
The people were waiting for Zacharias, and were wondering at his delay in the temple. But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them; and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple; and he kept making signs to them, and remained mute.

Like the story of Abraham and Sarah, God kept His word.

Luke 1:24-25; 57-66
After these days Elizabeth his wife became pregnant, and she kept herself in seclusion for five months, saying, “This is the way the Lord has dealt with me in the days when He looked with favor upon me, to take away my disgrace among men.”
Now the time had come for Elizabeth to give birth, and she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and her relatives heard that the Lord had displayed His great mercy toward her; and they were rejoicing with her.
And it happened that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to call him Zacharias, after his father. But his mother answered and said, “No indeed; but he shall be called John.” And they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by that name.” And they made signs to his father, as to what he wanted him called. And he asked for a tablet and wrote as follows, “His name is John.” And they were all astonished. And at once his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he began to speak in praise of God. Fear came on all those living around them; and all these matters were being talked about in all the hill country of Judea. All who heard them kept them in mind, saying, “What then will this child turn out to be?” For the hand of the Lord was certainly with him.

That is a very good question. This child will grow up to be the most unusual herald of them all. His name was…

John the Baptist

ADVENT Story Revealed part 6

Christmas in the Tent of Abraham

We now have enough dark background on the reason for Christmas. And there is nothing more darker than the fact of eternal doom hanging over the heads of all mankind because of SIN. By themselves, mankind is powerless to escape. Fortunately, the Lord God is there.

Deuteronomy 4:31
For the LORD your God is a merciful God; He will not abandon you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers, which He swore to them by oath.
Nehemiah 9:31
But in Your great compassion, You did not put an end to them; nor did You forsake them, for You are a gracious and compassionate God.

Because of God’s compassion and grace, He set into motion a plan. “The Plan!” The plan for mankind’s salvation. And an intricate part of that plan involved a most unusual birth which took place in the beginning of the New Testament. But before that fantastic event, God decided to do… sort of… a dress rehearsal, so to speak. Let us go back to the book of Genesis.

God’s plan was to choose a specific family line of whom will be instrumental in the salvation of mankind. Following 24 generations in the line of Seth (a son of Adam), we come to Abram who would later be renamed Abraham.

Abram was given a very important promise.

Genesis 12:3b
And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.
Genesis 22:18
“In your seed (offspring) all the nations of the earth shall be blessed…”

But Abram had a problem. His wife Sarai (Sarah) was barren. Does this sound familiar?

Then when Abram turned 99 and Sarai was 90, way way beyond childbearing years…

Genesis 17:1-5; 15-19
Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless. I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you exceedingly.”
Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying, “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you will be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; For I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.”
Then God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and indeed I will give you a son by her. Then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.”
Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Will a child be born to a man one hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before You!” But God said, “No, but Sarah your wife will bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.”

Weeks later, the Lord came to Abraham again.

Genesis 18:9-15
Then they said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?”
And he said, “There, in the tent.”
He said, “I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife will have a son.”
And Sarah was listening at the tent door, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; Sarah was past childbearing. Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?”
And the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, when I am so old?’ Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
Sarah denied it however, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid.
And He said, “No, but you did laugh.”

Sure enough, when Abraham turned 100…

Genesis 21:1-8
Then the LORD took note of Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had promised. So Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time of which God had spoken to him. Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac. Then Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.” And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”
The child grew and was weaned, and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned.

Merry Christmas Abraham and Sarah

ADVENT Story Revealed part 5

The Dark Side – The Consequence of the Original Sin

Now, I know that to many folks, Christmas time is all about smiles, gift giving and having a jolly good time. I promise you it will be and even more. For if you truly understand the reason why Jesus Christ was born, you will celebrate this holiday with a joy beyond comprehension.

So, we come to Adam & Eve eating the forbidden fruit.

Genesis 3:6-10
When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.
They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.”

When God made mankind in His image, He built into all of us an early warning system. I’m talking, of course, about our conscience. When Adam & Eve’s eyes opened (so to speak), that was really their consciences kicking into gear and telling them that they sinned! Like cockroaches not wanting to be seen, they hid from God.

Of course, God sees all.

Genesis 3:9-11
Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” Adam said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” And the LORD God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”
Jeremiah 23:24a
“Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him?” declares the Lord.

So, if God sees all, why did He ask, ‘Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’

Here is something about God that you should always know:

Our Lord God wants to FORGIVE.

2 Chronicles 30:9b
For the LORD your God is gracious and compassionate, and will not turn His face away from you if you return to Him.
2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

But mankind blew it again and BIG TIME. Instead of confessing, they played the ‘blame game’.

Genesis 3:12-13
The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Eve basically said that “the Devil made me do it!” As to Adam, he implied that it was not just the woman to blame. He was really putting the whole blame on God.

Genesis 3:16-19
To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”
Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you will eat the plants of the field; By the sweat of your face you will eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

You ever wonder why life is so hard. Well, the origin of that started here. The rest of the Adam & Eve story will show that they were cast out of Eden into a harsh and hostile world. And you only have to look at our history to see what sufferings humanity went through. But being kicked out of Eden to die was not the worst thing to happen to us.

Genesis 3:22-23
Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden…

We were created to be with God for eternity but because of SIN, what we all face when we die eternal damnation seperated from Him in the fires of HELL. That is, in essence, the BAD NEWS of the Christmas story.

In my next post, we will look at the GOOD NEWS part which will start with this verse:

Deuteronomy 4:31
For the LORD your God is a merciful God; He will not abandon you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers, which He swore to them by oath.

ADVENT Story Revealed part 4

The Dark Side – the Enemy Within

In literature, drama is defined as a composition in verse or prose intended to portray life or character or to tell a story usually involving conflicts and emotions through action and dialogue. And in every basic drama story, we always find three characters: a hero, a villain and a damsel in distress.

Now, in the last posting, you were introduced to the villain of the Garden of Eden: the Serpent who is really the Devil in disguise.

I know what question you want to ask. Why did God create a Devil? If you want to pursue it, you can click HERE.

There is much that can be said about this villain, but for the purpose of this advent story, let us look on what he did. Jesus said…

John 8:44
“…He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

How did the Serpent of Eden commit murder? Not biting them, for sure.

Genesis 3:1-5
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’”
The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Do you see his craftiness? First, he twisted God’s original words. Then he outright called God a liar and a selfish deceiver.

Clearly, the Serpent of old was the instigator of this tragic drama, but was he the only one?

Genesis 3:6
When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.

You would think that Eve would be the damsel in distress of the story but in this case, she was far from being distressed. Instead, she was too inquisitive for her own good which led to a dangerous desire. This desire was so effective that she set aside God’s commandment and ate the forbidden fruit.

By the way, Adam was no hero here either. According to verse 6, he was there and witnessed it all. And he warned her not. He knew God’s commandment very well. Afterall, he had spent the longest time with God and yet he did not stop her… worst yet… he did not stop himself.

In the long run, they were their own worst enemies. They chose to think that they knew better than God. Unfortunately, there was a price to pay.

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is DEATH…

When you think of the word, ‘wages’, the verse translates that death was earned! Adam and Eve earned death for themselves. Here comes the BAD NEWS for us.

1 Corinthians 15:22a
For as in Adam all die…
Romans 5:12
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned…

In my next post, we really need to look closely at the consequences of sin and understand why the bad news is BAD for all of us. Again, do not be disheartened. . Here is a complete look at the Romans 6:23 verse to remind you of hope.

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

ADVENT Story Revealed part 3

The Dark Side

In every story ever told, you will always find in it a ‘dark side’. We see this in fairy tales and fantasies. In Cinderella, it is the greedy step mother; in Sleeping Beauty, there is Malificent; in Star Wars, there is Darth Vader, in Harry Potter, there is Voldemort; and so on. In real life stories and yes, even in our history, it is the same.

And in this Christmas story, to better appreciate why we need a savior is to better understand the dark side… the bad news.

If you can recall, in the beginning, we had it made. But then something went wrong. Mankind sinned.

I am quite sure that everyone know a little bit about how Adam and Eve fell from Paradise. They fell because they disobeyed God’s one and only restrictive commandment

Genesis 2:17
The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

Many have questioned God’s wisdom in giving such a command. Why did He have to give it and why so harsh a consequence? At that matter, if the Garden of Eden is suppose to be a safe haven, why would He place such a dangerous tree in it? Let’s tackle first the commandment.

Is the commandment unjust? …unfair? Why give such a command?

The answer is simple enough. God does what He wants.

Psalm 115:3
Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.
Romans 9:21
Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?

Now, let us tackle the fairness of the commandment. What is so hard about it? Think about it. From the tens of thousands of delicious mouth-watering fruit bearing trees to eat from, only one tree is forbidden. This is clearly no hard task.

How about the forbidden tree itself? Was it really dangerous? If so, why was it in the Garden?

Romans 8:28
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Everything in the Garden was meant for our good, that included the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I believe that Adam & Eve were immature and not ready to handle the responsibility of having God-like knowledge of good and evil. I believe, in God’s own timing, He would have eventually allowed the eating of that fruit (Acts 10:10-15) when they reached a level of maturity.

For a certain time (though time was irrelevant in the Garden), both Adam & Eve were succesful in keeping the commandment. Until…

In every good story, there is always a bad guy. In the Bible, the villain is the Devil who comes and goes in many guises. In the Garden, he took on the form of the serpent.

Genesis 3:1
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made.

The Devil became the bad guy because he aspired to be greater than God.

Isaiah 14:13-14
You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”

Because we were lovingly created by God, the Devil set into motion the fall of mankind.

We will continue on the dark side of the Advent story in my next post. Don’t be disheartened by the dark side. Here is a verse to remind you of hope.

1 John 4:4
You (those who are born again) are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He (Jesus) who is in you than he (the Devil) who is in the world.

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I really hope we can have a conversation. Please contact me here at Facebook MESSENGER by audio from 3-5pm Monday to Friday. Scheduled small group chats can be organized as well. Or send me a message HERE.

ADVENT Story Revealed part 2

The Intended Relationship

Greetings. Well, traditional Christmas is just 25 days away. In my last post, we (rightly so) started this Advent story in the very beginning of the Bible when God created the universe and then mankind. But what does this have to do with Christmas? Why not start with the angel’s visitation of a young woman named Mary? We will! However, other questions needs to be told first; the most important is…

Why does the world need a
SAVIOR?

To answer this, we must remind ourselves of this crucial background.

Psalm 8:3-4
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?

How special were you when the Lord God created you?

Genesis 2:4
This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.
Genesis 2:7a
Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground…

I love watching potters with their bare hands firmly but yet gently form beautiful pottery from a lump of clay. Their love for their work is visibly expressed in how they formed their masterpieces. No wonder this Bible writer expressed this particular thought about God, the greatest artisan of them all.

Isaiah 64:8
But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.

But we are more than just art pieces. Remember…

Genesis 1:26
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…”

And let us read the rest of verse 7…

Genesis 2:7
Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

Here’s a Christmas thought. Why don’t we express gratitude to God and say…

Psalm 139:14
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.

Now, God did not stop there. Like a good parent, He did not set us out into the wild environs of His creation

Genesis 2:8-9
The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

He placed mankind in a safe place…

Genesis 2:15-17
Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

In that enriching haven, God and mankind became closer.

Genesis 2:18-20a
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field…

Whenever, I read this part, I see this image of a father bringing his child for the first time to the zoo. What a fun time for father and child to have together. This is what our Lord God intended for mankind for eternity. (Even today, He still desires it for us.)

Now, we come to the BAD NEWS of the Advent story. In the beginning, we had it made. But then…

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I really hope we can have a conversation. Please contact me here at Facebook MESSENGER by audio from 3-5pm Monday to Friday. Scheduled small group chats can be organized as well. Or send me a message HERE.