How many here have ever watched an older person unwrapping a Christmas gift…Being slow and deliberate...Making everyone go nuts waiting!
We’ve studied… Through this Christmas Season…How the Gift Jesus Brought at His Birth…Was slowly and meticulously unwrapped throughout His Life!! With every Trait of the Father He Taught and Showed…With every Human Experience He Lived… For us!
Now… How many have ever wrapped a Christmas Gift for a toddler...And after watching them struggle...With trying to opening the package for a while...You had to practically unwrap their gift for them?
Well on this Christmas Morn...We will soon see how God the Father...Helped us tear open the biggest Gift He could Give us as well!
Let's go back six months before the sweet young Virgin Mary was even visited by Gabriel... And read about an Awesome Event…That began the whole Christmas Story... With an old priest named Zacharias!
Luke 1:5-13 (NKJV)
5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years. 8 So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. 10 And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.
Each day about 50 priests were on duty at the Temple...To care for the Temple Itself... And the Events of the day. Each day lots would be drawn among them…
To prevent favoritism or pride...And show the Decision of God for certain special duties of the day...Those who would take part in the sacrifice itself...Those who would get the honor of entering the Holy Place...
(Not the Holy of Holies!)...And place Fresh Shew Bread on the Sabbath...
Those who would daily trim the wicks of the Menorah...And add fresh olive oil...
And the one who was chosen for the highest, most honored act...Of Burning Incense on the Altar of Incense...Which sat in front of the unbelievably tall and heavy Veil...Described in the Mishnah, and the Historian Josephus, as being...A beautifully woven tapestry of blue, scarlet, purple & white threads... Approximately 60ft high x 30ft wide... And a handbreadth in thickness (4 to 10”)!Requiring 300 priests to handle it when removed!
Separating the Ark of the Covenant…Within the Holy of Holies behind! The Very Dwelling Place of God! Only entered into once a year by the High Priest!
The priest who offered this Incense...Was usually only chosen once for this monumental honor...In his whole lifetime!...After which... He was to be called, "Rich"... By the other priests.
Only Coals from the Altar of Burnt Offerings (Sacrifice) were used...And only a special Incense mixed and crushed fine...For this Purpose alone... Was allowed to be used!
This Incense was burned by the selected priest in the Holy Place...As the other priests and the people outside...Were prostrate in prayer before God! Because the Burning of the Incense…Represented the sweet aroma of the prayer of God's people...Ascending to His Throne! What ignited this Incense of Prayer? Made it ascend heavenward? The very fires of the Sacrifice offered to God on that day!
Zacharias had been chosen by lot on this special day... (In God's Sovereignty)
For his "once in a lifetime" opportunity to perform this Awesome Duty!At over 60yrs old!...And as he ignited the prayers of himself and the people...With fires from the Sacrifice!
The Angel Gabriel appeared to him HERE… And declared..."His prayers had been heard!'
What prayer? Most believe it was a prayer for a child in his old age!Maybe... But if this were the case...Would Zacharias have responded the way he did...When he was told Elizabeth WOULD have a child?
Luke 1:18-20 (NKJV)
18 And Zacharias said to the angel, "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years." 19 And the angel answered and said to him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings. 20 But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time."
This Passage seems to strongly suggest that Zacharias had not been praying for a son... Because he seemed to have accepted his fate of being childless! But quite possibly... Zacharias, on this special day as priest...Was making a more reverent plea for the people he represented...A plea that all the people of Israel were making at this point in time...For the Messiah to come and set them free!...NOW... His prayer... And the prayer of the people...Would be filled!...And Zacharias' own son would lead the way for His Coming!
Tearing Open The Gift...
That prayer was Answered...By the One John was born to Announce to the world! With the Greatest Gift that has ever been Given! By God Himself!
And do you know what kind of Wrapping Paper God Used? Humanity... Our own Flesh and Blood! To Hold this Priceless Treasure...And do you know how much God Spent on your Gift? Everything He Had! AS GOD!
I'd say, "He Spent too much!"... Wouldn't you?!But He Wouldn't Say that...He'd Say, "You can't put a price on Love!"
Sweet young Mary... At just 13 or 14yrs old...Described this Awesome Little Gift that was Given to her...While He was just Beginning to Grow in her womb!
Listen to her maturity... Knowledge... And Anointing...As she writes what eventually became known as..."The Magnificat!"... In Greek meaning: To magnify, to glorify, exalt!
Luke 1:68-70, 76-79 (HCSB)
68 Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has visited and provided redemption for His people. 69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, 70 just as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets in ancient times... 76 And child, you will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways, 77 to give His people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins. 78 Because of our God’s merciful compassion, the Dawn from on high will visit us 79 to shine on those who live in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
This Precious Little Gift...Remained Shrouded and Hidden in this Most Costly Wrapping...For 33yrs before It was Revealed!...But just like spoiled, selfish and immature kids at Christmas...Who carelessly tear open the Wrappings on their Gift...In great excitement...And then throw aside the Priceless Treasure inside... Dissatisfied.
God's Gift to us... Was Torn Open carelessly... Brutally...In great excitement and pleasure...And then thrown aside... In rejection!
Isaiah 53:5 (HCSB)
But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds.
And to show the world the Significance of this Awesome Gift...At the Moment of Jesus' Death... The Moment the Gift was Given...God the Father Symbolically Tore Open Another Package...To Clearly Show the Meaning of what had just happened!
Matthew 27:50-51 (NKJV)
50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. 51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split...
This Veil...5 1/2 stories high!!...Four to ten inches thick...With moderate estimates of weight at about 18,000lbs (9 tons)
Was violently and completely torn apart!Top... To Bottom! (Important... Showing GOD Did the Tearing!) TO EXPOSE THE HOLY OF HOLIES TO ALL OF MANKIND!
This was God Screaming to the Israelites...That the Sacrifice of Lambs and Goats would never again...Be needed to temporarily cover their sins!...And that the High Priest of Israel...Was no longer needed to stand between God and men...The sins of men were no longer covered up...THEY WERE PAID FOR IN FULL!...AND THE VERY DWELLING PLACE OF GOD HIMSELF! WAS NOW OPEN FREELY TO ALL MANKIND!
GOD WOULD NOT LONGER BE SEPARATED FROM MEN...HE WOULD NOW DWELL IN THEM! WITH THEM! And the Cost was all of our shame, sin, rejection, punishment! GOD OPENED HIMSELF COMPLETELY TO INTIMACY AND ONENESS...LIKE WE HAD NEVER HAD SINCE OUR FALL!
He Exposed and Gave Himself to us Completely! Offering His Intimate Fellowship from that day forth! He Gave US total access to His Throne Personally! He Restored all that was ever lost...To those who chose to ACCEPT His Gift!
He Handed Eternity to His Children...Peace and Abundance...A never ending Adventure...In the Presence of His Love always!
Romans 6:23 (NKJV)
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
2 Corinthians 9:15 (NKJV)
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
There were two goats used for the Sacrifice…On the most reverenced Feast of the each year... The Feast of Atonement (Yom Kipper)...Lots were drawn between the two...And one Sacrificed (For sins)... Considered God's Favor if the goat on the right was sacrificed...One had a crimson thread tied around it's neck... And was released into the wilderness... (Taking sins away)
Another crimson thread was tied to the door of the Temple...And would turn white when the goat was released. Also... The Talmud tells us that the Western-most light of the Menorah...Always burned perpetually... Never going out with the rest of them...
Two Talmuds were created after the Jews were scattered following Jesus' death... One from Jerusalem, one from Babylon!They BOTH tell of these amazing events in history!! Watch closely!
"Forty years before the destruction of the Temple, the western light went out, the crimson thread remained crimson, and the lot for the Lord always came up in the left hand. They would close the gates of the Temple by night and get up in the morning and find them wide open"
- Jacob Neusner, The Jerusalem Talmud, p.156-157. [the Temple was destroyed in 70 CE]
"Our Rabbis taught: During the last forty years before the destruction of the Temple the lot [‘For the Lord’] did not come up in the right hand; nor did the crimson-coloured strap become white; nor did the westernmost light shine; and the doors of the Hekal would open by themselves,"
- Babylonian Talmud - Yoma 39a - 39b, copied from website: yashanet.com on May 19, 2012, http://www.yashanet.com/library/temple/yoma39.htm
Anyone know what happened forty years before the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD? Jesus Christ was crucified!!!
Written Jewish history confirms that from the time Christ was crucified...Until the temple was destroyed...The lot always fell on the unfavorable side!(God was not in favor of them anymore)
The red sash never turned white again!(Goats could never cover sin anymore)
The westernmost light of the Menorah would not burn!12,500 nights! (God no longer dwelt in the Holy of Holies!)
The gigantic doors to the Temple kept opening alone, which took 20 priests on either side to do usually! (The way to God has been made open to all!)
WOW!! Does any other "religion" have that kind of historical proof...
From sources that are against them!?
How would YOU FEEL...If you sold everything you had... And lived in poverty for months or years...To have enough for one incredible gift...
Hoping it would please the one you love...And they told you it wasn't good enough?
What about...If it cost you the life of your own child…In the quest for their gift...And they knew what had happened? Knew what you'd gone through for them?
Knew what you lost?...And STILL... Not only were unthankful for the gift...But wouldn't even take it...Because it wasn't good enough?!
THAT... IS EXACTLY WHAT WE DO TO GOD, OUR FATHER...WHEN WE TELL HIM HIS GIFT WASN'T ENOUGH! WHEN WE TELL HIM WE DON'T EVEN WANT HIS GIFT! AFTER IT COST HIM EVERYTHING HE HAD...TO PURCHASE IT FOR YOU... AS GOD! EVEN THE LIFE OF HIS OWN SON!
DON'T WASTE ANOTHER MINUTE...BEFORE YOU OPEN THE MOST COSTLY GIFT EVER BOUGHT FOR YOU!
DON'T WASTE ANOTHER MINUTE...NOT ENJOYING AND USING THE GIFT YOU RECEIVED!
FROM GOD OUR FATHER... TO YOU... MERRY CHRISTMAS!
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