The name Jesus is a name that we have heard before in this series because it is the same name as Joshua. Joshua was a great military leader and reformer in the midst of Israel. He called Israel to look to their God, to serve their God exclusively, and to set the tone for their houses to serve the Lord. Israel fell pretty far from this as a new people. Their priests lost sight of their God, and the people lost sight of the priest’s significance. The priest was supposed to bring them to God rather than being some sort of good luck charms to manipulate the true God. So, is the Lord able to redeem such a people? If the Lord can redeem such a people then who has to be the redeemer?
The servant is the one who lives out the promises of the Lord. This is great, it is encouraging, and it is very significant for his mission. However, why would we appeal to this text for Christmas rather than Isaiah 9 or Isaiah 7 if we were going to use a passage from Isaiah? What does this servant teach us about the significance of Christmas?
The promised warrior is supposed to secure a life that never ends. You would expect such a warrior to be well armed, and be dressed for battle in the most intimidating way. This is what we want as humans to know that this warrior is an intimidating being. The problem with this is it is not the picture that Isaiah casts for the redeeming warrior. What kind of warrior will deliver and why is this the warrior that we need?
We can talk about the Advent of Christ, but do we really understand the nature of his mission? Do we really understand the state of His people? We can claim that this is only a problem for Israel, but are they the only broken people in the Lord’s Word? How does this old prophet relate to us today?
Balak has been paying Balaam to manipulate and to change the promises of the Lord. They have offered the Lord the highest and greatest offerings to win the favor of God. The Lord has responded to the sacrifices, but not in the way that Balak had hoped. The Lord has continued to restate His promises to this man. Now, in this fourth oracle something that changed. There are no sacrifices, but the Lord reminds these men, and us today that his battle plan is fixed. What is the significance of this oracle? What does this tell us about the Christmas story?
Balak is beginning to realize that he cannot control the Lord. However, he still tries by bringing Balaam to the Lord’s enemy territory. The diviner follows Balak’s lead by going to the enemy territory. Is Balaam able to curse the people of God even as they are camping in the wildness? Is Baal able to overpower our God? How does our God make clear that the Lord will establish the true Christmas day?
The Lord has made a promise to his people that he will bring them to glory. His people have messed up really bad, and so does the Lord really desire to establish His people? How do we know that the Lord can and will do this? How strong is the Lord? Is there a god, a prophet, or another power that can derail the Lord’s promises? Balaam and Balak think they can, but can they?
The Lord has made a promise to his people that he will bring them to glory. Is the Lord really able to do this? How do we know that the Lord can and will do this? How strong is the Lord? Is there a god, a prophet, or another power that can derail the Lord’s promises? Balaam and Balak think they can, but can they?
The season of Christmas concludes with New Years. New Year’s Day is a day of transition of moving from an old year to a new year. It is our tradition to make resolutions and hope that the new year is better and more blessed than last year. This is not necessarily a bad thing provided that we are doing this in the confidence of the grace of God, but what should be the ultimate hope for the new year? What should be our focus as we move from this year to the next year? What can Jacob teach us about a struggled life in the Lord as he prepares for the ultimate transition from this age to being with our Lord?
It is easy to reduce Christmas down to a time of sentimental feelings or desires. There are some people who might see Christmas only as joy, while there are others who might only dwell on the loss of loved ones. There is no doubt that we may even vacillate between these two feelings. It is also true that both of these views have a basis. So, how do we keep these feelings or desires in a proper perspective? How can our God understand both of these views of Christmas? How does the strange man Simeon even help us to keep our Christmas struggle in perspective or reorient our priorities?