Sunday, December 7, 2008
What can I give God? The calendar is rolling around to December 25th, the celebrated date of Jesus birth. What do you get for God who has everything? After all it is His birthday that we are celebrating. On who else's birthday do all the guests give each other presents, but ignore the giving of a gift to the honoree? So again I ask, what can I give God for Christmas?
We celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25th, but it surely is not merely the birth of a long deceased man whose birth we celebrate, but this birth of Jesus was prophesied many hundreds of years before his birth:
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
This and many other verses in the Old Testament talked of a coming Savior. The Hebrew people anxiously looked for someone to rescue them in their hour of need. They looked for a military savior, not recognizing that their spiritual condition was greatly more dire and desperate than their more obvious political subjection by the Romans. Every new star of whatever brightness appearing in the political or spiritual skies of the Hebrew landscape was looked and hoped to be the long predicted Messiah.
John the Baptist was looked to be the Christ, but denied it:
And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? (20) And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.
The Christ, the Messiah, the Savior was on every-one's minds. He was looked for. He was expected. Now an angel announced to Joseph that his betrothed was pregnant by the Spirit of God and that His name would be called Jesus:
But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife; for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. (21) And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
Jesus, what a significant name. It comes from Hebrew:
From H3068 and H3467; Jehovah-saved; Jehoshua (that is, Joshua), the Jewish leader: - Jehoshua, Jehoshuah, Joshua. Compare H1954, H3442.
Jehovah saved. . . God saved. . . This child of Mary's would save the people from their sins, thereby this baby would fulfill Isaiah's ancient prophecy for God to take on human flesh making a way for man to redeem himself from the chronic and inherent debt of sin unto which we are all born, but this taking on of flesh was only temporary as required to break the hold of death over man, for we also know as stated in Scripture:
God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
Therefore any physical gift to God is clearly inappropriate for God. God is a Spirit, no gloves for His hands. God is a Spirit, no slippers for His feet are required or appropriate, but when God takes on flesh men greatly desire to do something to give Him honor. The humble shepherds left their flocks in the middle of the night, so great was their thirst to pay homage and to witness this wondrous event.
Later when the young Christ was possibly 1-2 years old, the Magi, wise men possibly astrologers, who had been following a heavenly sign, a star in the east on a divinely appointed quest arrived with precious gifts for the Christ child:
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, (2) Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. (10) When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. (11) And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
They bore gifts, costly and precious: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Quite likely these gifts are listed in the order of worth, with gold being the least costly of the three. Today with our modern methods of cultivation, gathering, and extraction I have spent more than $30/oz for myrrh. It is not difficult at all to imagine these precious resins being many times more costly in Biblical times.
The baby Jesus certainly had no need for these costly and extravagant gifts, but can it be mere coincidence that in one verse the gifts are given, the next verse the Magi leave, and in the following verse God comes to Joseph in a dream and tells him to take his wife and the baby Jesus into Egypt to escape Herod. They are to stay there for possibly years until Herod dies.
Joseph had no American Express card. There were no Visa or Master Card merchant signs at the oasis and rest stops along the way to Egypt, but not to worry. The Magi had just handed them eminently transportable and convertible wealth surely sufficient to carry them through their exile in Egypt. The gifts of the wise men to God left Arabia or possibly what is now India months or maybe even years before being presented to Joseph and Mary. They arrived at precisely the needed moment to help them escape King Herod's wrath.
God had no need for the gifts, but those caring for and carrying the body of Christ at His young age surely appreciated and even required the treasure offered to them. It is interesting the parallels between the the Magi, the wise men of Jesus day with the wise men of today. The wise men recognized who the Christ child was:
Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
They recognized the stature of the young child before them. They saw their recognition of Him and their worship of Him as the end to their journey, when that should have been not the end of the journey, but the beginning. They saw. They knew, but they did not wait and remain for Him to do a work in their lives. It is not recorded that the Magi were in anyway changed by their encounter with God. You can hold in your hand a bottle of penicillin. You can recognize what powerful medicine is contained within. If you like you can even worship that medicine but until you open the bottle and take it inside of you, it does no work at healing your disease. Many of the wise men of today, like the Magi pay lip service to Jesus, maybe even momentarily genuflecting admitting. . .recognizing His stature, recognizing how wise His teaching are. They call Him a great philosopher. They say He was a wonderful teacher, but not availing themselves of Him by allowing His healing powers within themselves. They recognize the medicine, but they won't open the bottle.
So the offering of gifts to the body of Christ is surely a good thing but is that truly the giving of a gift to God?
What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? (13) I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD. (14) I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people. (15) Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. (16) O LORD, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds. (17) I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD. (18) I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people, (19) In the courts of the LORD's house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye the LORD.
All I have to offer Him, as a gift that He does not inherently have as His own, is my love, my obedience and my worship. I will take of the cup of salvation offered by Him and not just hold it in my hand, but drink of it. I will take His medicine, which is His Spirit within me. I will not just leave it on a shelf to look at. There is nothing short of my complete submission and obedience to Him, that can in any way approach the value and significance of what He has done for me. Verse 16, I was born the son of a slave, a son of the flesh, a son of darkness, but I have been freed. Now my service to God is voluntary. My knee bows without compulsion. I was given the freedom to choose by God. Both slave and servant serve. . .but as a servant I have a choice and that is my Gift to Him. . .
I love you my God. . .
I thank you my Lord. . .
Please accept my gift. . .
Posted by David Stokely at 8:21 AM