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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Birth of Jesus

Birth of Jesus

        The Roman Governor had ordered a census. Caesar had human power and honor, but the King of all kings will come as the lowliest of all – born to a poor, Jewish virgin in the place of animals and placed in an animal trough. Every person had to return to their own town to register for the census so they could be counted for the purpose of taxation. Mary and Joseph were descendants of David, so they had to return to Bethlehem where David was born. This would make the village crowded with people, so there was no room left at the Inn for Joseph and Mary. They could only find accommodations where the animals rest and feed. It is here among the animals where Jesus would be born. When Jesus was born, He was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.

What are swaddling clothes and what do they represent?

        Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothes at His birth and at His death. The first is last and the last first in Jesus. He is the Beginning and the End. Jesus was born to die for the sin of the whole world. Jesus got His flesh from Mary, but His Divinity was from His Heavenly Father. Jesus had a Mary and Joseph at His birth and a Mary and Joseph at His death.
        Mary wrapped God's love-gift to the world in swaddling clothes. Swaddling was done for all legitimate babies born to married parents. Mary was not only wedded to Joseph, she was wedded to the Lord God as His faith-filled, obedient bride. An illegitimate baby would not be swaddled. Mary cared for baby Jesus as a legitimate child. Mary was saying through her action that this is God's legitimate Son. Mary and Joseph both knew who this baby was since Gabriel had told both of them.
       In Ezekiel 16:2-14, God tells His people that Jerusalem was an illegitimate child that no one wanted before He adopted her and gave her spiritual life. God saw Jerusalem in her orphaned state and swaddled, loved and cared for her. He washed her off and matured her until she became the most beautiful of jewels. When God saved Jerusalem, she was inhabited by the wicked Canaanites and Amorites. On the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to make you clean, nor were you rubbed with salt or wrapped in (swaddling) cloths. No one looked on you with pity or had compassion enough to do any of these things for you. Rather, you were thrown out into the open field, for on the day you were born you were despised.” Ezekiel 15:4-5 In other words, Jerusalem was like an unwanted, illegitimate child. She was the child of the wicked. No one had washed her, rubbed her with salt or swaddled her, as a mother loves and cares for her legitimate children. In the swaddling process, a newborn baby is first
washed with water. Then the baby would be rubbed with salt either mixed with water or olive oil. The baby would then be laid on a swaddling cloth. The cloth would be brought up to cover the legs, arms and torso. Then the swaddle bands would be wrapped around the baby's head and forehead and then around and around its body down to the feet. This was similar to the wrapping of a dead body for burial. Jesus was wrapped in the same cloth at His death. He was born to die for the sin of the whole world! Jesus in His death swaddled us making us legitimate sons and daughters of the Most High God. He covered us with His white linen robe of righteousness and swaddled us with the bands of new spiritual birth. Jesus left His swaddling clothes in the tomb. He is now clothed in His Light and glory as He was in the beginning.
        Salt represented an everlasting covenant in Numbers 18:19. Jesus is the fulfillment of all of the Older Testament Covenants God made with the Israelites, and is God's everlasting covenant with all who receive and believe in Him.. A salt covenant is permanent and can only be broken by polluting it with dirt! Jesus was sinless so He had no pollution. Humans cannot live without salt, so salt is also a sustainer of life. Jesus said that His followers are the “salt of the earth” – the sustainers of spiritual life through Jesus in us. (Matthew 5:13) Salt also purifies and preserves. We are to be seasoned with salt. In other words, purified and preserved for Our Heavenly Father's use as Jesus was. Elisha purified the deadly water with salt. (2 Kings 2:19-22) Salt also flavors. In other words, it enhances. Jesus said that salt that loses its flavor is worthless. He says in Mark 9:50, “Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”
        The water or olive oil mixed with the salt represents the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Water also represents the Word. These used in the swaddling process are symbolic of the Word anointed by the Holy Spirit that brings out the flavor of Jesus in our lives, and sustains and protects spiritual life in us. The white linen of the swaddling cloth symbolizes righteousness and purity. Those who return with Jesus are clothed in a white linen robe. The swaddling clothes of Jesus' birth pointed to the swaddling clothes of His death! He was sentenced to die long before He was born. We are swaddled by Jesus. We are secure in Him and He will wrap us in His grace and truth to keep our ways and walk straight. He will pick us up, clean us off, guide and teach us and grow us in wisdom and stature until we become a precious jewel in His kingdom. As Jesus grew out of His swaddling clothes of birth and grew in wisdom and stature, He wants to do this in His disciples also. He wants us to walk as He walked, talk as He talked, do as He did, love as He loves and comfort as He comforts. There is a process we must go through to attain this. Jesus was bound by swaddling cloths at His birth and at His death, but He was and is bound to His Heavenly Father's ways, will and truth always. Jesus swaddles us and makes us legitimate sons and daughters of the Most High God.
        Jesus came gift-wrapped! A gift is not a gift, however, until it is received. Because Mary said “yes” to God's Word and Will, we can say “yes” to God's Word and allow Jesus to be birthed in and through us. We can say “yes” to Jesus and His purpose and plan in our lives. We can't do either of these until we say “yes” to Jesus because only the power of His blood, His Word and His Holy Spirit can accomplish this in us. Jesus, the Word of God, came as a wordless baby!
         God entrusted His very own Son into the hands of Mary and Joseph to love, nurture, guide and protect. Jesus came as a baby who would have to depend upon Mary until He is old enough to walk on His own with the direction of His Heavenly Father.  What an honor! Our Heavenly Father also entrusts His Son to us to let others know who He is and to reveal Him through truth, our actions, words and deeds. This is an awesome responsibility and one that we should take very seriously. Life or death is in the balance. Knowing the true Jesus is also in the balance.
        The Angel of the Lord told the shepherds in the field near Bethlehem that a sign for them would be that they will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. (Luke 2:12) Shepherds were considered low-class in biblical times, but God saw them very differently. God saw the tender love, protection and nurturing of these shepherds for their flocks and chose them to be the first to come to see the Good (John 10:11-14), Chief (1 Peter 5:3) and Great (Hebrews 13:20) Shepherd Jesus. He is the One Shepherd of God's flock. If they would be so loving and protecting of earthly sheep, God would put them in charge of loving and protecting His spiritual (John 10:16) sheep. What the world sees as lowly, God sees as great and honors. Jesus is revealed to the lowly and humble shepherds. Eventually some of these sheep, goats and cattle would be used as a sacrifice to God in the temple. The same is true of the sheep (believers) of Christ's pasture.  We will also become living sacrifices to God.
       God revealed the Lamb of God who would be the once-for-all sacrifice for the atonement of the sins of the world. The Bible says that these shepherds “hurried” to find Jesus. (Luke 2:16) The Bible says, “Today is the day of salvation.” Jesus wants us to hurry to Him when we are told the Good News of Him. Not only did they hurry to Him, they quickly told others about Him. When they returned to their flocks, they glorified and praised the Lord for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. Luke 2:20  These shepherds had spiritual eyes to see and spiritual ears to hear.
        When we allow Christ to lead and guide us, we release Him from His swaddling clothes, and we release others from their swaddling clothes of death and give them eternal life in Christ. Those who don't know Christ are bound in sin and death. The Bread of Life was born in the House of Bread (Bethlehem) to eventually die so all of humanity can have eternal life. This fulfilled Micah 5:2.

Manger

        Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem because Caesar gave orders for a census to be taken. Bethlehem is referred to as the “City of David” because David was born there. Since Joseph and Mary are descendants of David, they had to return to Bethlehem to be counted in the census.
       Joseph and Mary stopped at an inn to get a room. The innkeeper told them that there was no room for them at the inn, so Joseph and Mary settled for a stable. In biblical times, stables were sometimes in a field, or in a cave carved out of a rock or even in an area in the lower level of a house. So we don't know exactly where this stable was that Jesus was born in.  We do know that a stable would be full of dirt and stench. Jesus came into the world in a place full of animals and stench, just as we are born again through Jesus in a world that is full of wickedness and stench. Jesus will lift us up out of this stench and give us His sweet fragrance. The devil wants to bring us further and further down into the dirt of the earth because that is his end, but Jesus wants to lift us up to the high places with Him.
       Jesus was born in a stable and laid in a manger. A manger is the feeding trough of the animals. The Bread of Life will be born in a stable and placed in a feeding trough for the animals who would eventually be used for sacrifices in the temple. These would be tame animals like lambs, goats, and cattle not wild animals. As sheep, goats and cattle would get their food from the manger, Jesus who is the Bread of Life and the Manger came to earth to feed the spiritually hungry and give new, eternal spiritual life to all. Jesus is birthed everyday in the hearts of humanity who believe in Him and receive Him. Jesus wants His disciples to be “living sacrifices” to Him. Jesus gave His all as a living sacrifice to God for us. He wants us to give our all as a living sacrifice to Him.
         The manger was prefigured in the story of the Exodus of the Israelites out of Egypt. Those who desired deliverance were told to leave Egypt in haste, so they took the dough they had prepared to make bread before the yeast was added and put it in wooden troughs (similar to a manger) and carried it on their shoulders. (Exodus 12:33-34)  In other words, they had dough to make unleavened bread to eat with the flesh of the Passover lamb. Jesus is the Unleavened Bread (sinless) Bread of Heaven who was laid in a manger –feeding trough. He is also the Passover Lamb. The government of God is on His shoulders. The women made the dough and carried it on their shoulders as they passed over from the bondage of slavery in Egypt in route to the Promised Land of God. It is a “Woman” who still carries the Bread of Life in Jesus to others. This Woman represents the Bride of Christ made up of both males and females, Jews and Gentiles, young and old who carry Jesus, the Passover Lamb, and His Unleavened Bread of the Word, to the world. There is always a deeper meaning in scripture! The Bride of Christ is to carry the Truth of the Word of God to others so they too will come to Jesus for salvation and eternal life. We are to be His manger!
       Jesus left the place of glory and no limitation to be confined and limited in the womb of this young, Jewish woman, and subsequently in the limitation of the flesh of His disciples—us! The King of glory who is perfect wisdom gave up His glory to come as a baby and grow in wisdom and then to die in order to save humanity. Lowly shepherds who were considered unclean and lowly to the world were the first to come to Him. The Son of the Most High God came as a little baby to save the lowest of the low -- sinners. Jesus also placed Himself under the limitations of the Law in order to fulfill it and release those who love and follow Him from the Law's penalty of death for disobedience. If Jesus had not done this, all of Israel would have been condemned to death because they had all disobeyed the Law. What love the Lord showed to His people Israel by sending Jesus to set them free from certain death. His love was also expanded to the Gentiles who believe in Him. God is no respecter of persons. His love, grace, mercy and truth are available to all because He is the Creator of all and made mankind in His image and likeness.
        The King of Kings will be born in a lowly place in the midst of animals in Bethlehem – the House of Bread. The Bread of Life was born in the House of Bread! It is the responsibility of Christ's Church to birth Jesus in the hearts and minds of humanity.
           Our flesh and its wicked ways are animal-like. We are born again through Jesus when we are sinners in a world that is full of wickedness (beastliness), just as Jesus came to earth when the world was full of darkness and sin. Jesus and the Holy Spirit will transform our beastly nature into a tame and Godlike nature that is controlled by the Holy Spirit and Truth and reflects His gentle, tender, loving nature.
        The first man, Adam, was shaped and formed by the Godhead into a full-grown man, but he fell from grace through disobedience. Jesus, the Second and Last Adam, came as a baby, grew in wisdom and did not fall. Jesus is telling us that we come to Him as an infant Christian, and He will transform us and mature us into a full-grown spiritual man or woman of God by feeding us His Word and empowering us by His Holy Spirit. He will take us out of the stench of our wickedness and will glorify us glory by glory into His image and likeness once again.
                                        “Glory to God in the highest,
                                           and on earth peace to men
                                           on whom His favor rests.”
                                                        Luke 2:14


          Be blessed and filled with love, joy and peace as you celebrate the birth of our Living Savior and Lord Jesus. We thank you Lord Jesus for swaddling us with your love, grace and truth and covering us with your righteousness making us legitimate children and heirs of all that belongs to You. We thank you for taking us out of the mire and filth of sin and lifting us up into the higher realm with You. Be birthed in us daily, Lord Jesus, through the washing of the water of Your Word anointed by Your Holy Spirit. We love you Lord and we worship You and all that You are. Amen and Amen.

                                                                 Blessings and love,

                                                                          Sandy


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