24 Days of Advent Scripture Devotionals

Day 11 – He Shall Build a House for My Name

2 Samuel 7:1-17

King David – Peter Paul Rubens

When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. – 2 Samuel 7:12-14

King David had defeated his enemies all around, the Ark had been brought back to Jerusalem, and he had built himself a house with cedar from the King of Tyre.

2 Samuel 7 begins with these verses: Now it came to pass when the king was dwelling in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies all around, that the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells inside tent curtains.” Then Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your heart, for the Lord is with you.” (2 Samuel 7:1-2)

David had a wonderful idea about what HE wanted to do for the Lord. He would build him a house to dwell in. How can we blame him for wanting to do something big for God? God had been with him through such a long and difficult struggle and had kept his promise to David and blessed him. Most of us understand David’s sentiment: God has been so good to me; I want to do something for him!

Nathan seemed to think it was a pretty good idea until God decided to tell them both what he was thinking:

2 Samuel 7:4-17

But it happened that night that the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying, “Go and tell My servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Would you build a house for Me to dwell in? For I have not dwelt in a house since the time that I brought the children of Israel up from Egypt, even to this day, but have moved about in a tent and in a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about with all the children of Israel, have I ever spoken a word to anyone from the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd My people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?’”’ Now therefore, thus shall you say to My servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: “I took you from the sheepfold, from following the sheep, to be ruler over My people, over Israel. And I have been with you wherever you have gone, and have cut off all your enemies from before you, and have made you a great name, like the name of the great men who are on the earth. Moreover I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own and move no more; nor shall the sons of wickedness oppress them anymore, as previously, since the time that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel, and have caused you to rest from all your enemies.

Also the Lord tells you that He will make you a house.

“When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.”

According to all these words and according to all this vision, so Nathan spoke to David.

David is being rebuked for thinking too small of the Lord. This occurred early in his career as king. At this point he is ready to kick back and settle in. He’s got his house. He’ll build a house for God. It’s all good.

Please allow me some liberty with this illustration: If we were reading the New Bronx Translation, it may have read something like this:

  • David: Yo, God. I think I’m gonna build you a house. Yeah.
  • Nathan: Sownz good ta me.
  • God: Yo, Nathan. Whadda you thinkin? Go tell that David from me, “You wanna build me a house? You wanna build ME a house? Look, You were nothin’, NOTHIN’ and I made you the king. Yeah, that’s right. And another thing. You think you’re gonna build me a house? Nah. I’m gonna build YOU a house. Yeah.”

God sees the end from the beginning. This prophetic word given to David, like other prophecies in the scriptures, has multiple facets: some near term and others longer term. The first part refers to Solomon, David’s “seed”, whose kingdom was established after David and who built the temple. We are on this side of history and we know that Solomon committed iniquity and that the kings, descendants of David, disobeyed the Lord and even followed after other gods. God did “chasten” the descendants of David with the rod of men as we see in the captivity and exile.

But parts of this promise from God were not yet fulfilled when the history books of the Kings of Israel were written (1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles). The rest of this prophecy refers to the Messiah, Jesus, the Son of David who was also the Son of God. Through the Messiah, God would fulfill this promise: “He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son.”

Solomon built the Lord a physical temple that was later destroyed. But God is building the house that he promised he would build for David, even through David’s own “seed”, Jesus Christ.

Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. – 1 Peter 2:4-5

Hymn: In The Bleak Midwinter

What a beautiful, melancholy hymn. Note the words of the second verse and their relevance to today’s subject. Christina Rosetti wrote the lyrics in 1872 and they are sung to the tune “Cranham” by Gustav Holst.

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan
Earth stood hard as iron
Water like a stone
Snow had fallen, snow on snow
Snow on snow
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty
Jesus Christ

Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day
A breast full of milk
And a manger full of hay
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss

What can I give Him
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb
If I were a wise man
I would do my part
Yet what I can I give Him
Give my heart

Day 10 – I Will Put My Words in His Mouth

Deuteronomy 18:18

Moses and the Ten Commandments – Marc Chagall

I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. – Deuteronomy 18:18

This prophecy from the book of Deuteronomy is recognized by the Jewish teachers to refer to the Messiah. But many do not believe that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah and say that he is disqualified from fulfilling this prophecy because he said he was the Son of God.

Jesus came as a man (like Moses) and being a Jew was from “among their brethren”. Like Moses he was a prophet who brought the words of God to the people. He spoke and taught with authority as did Moses. He was the prophet that God promised to Moses and the people in Deuteronomy chapter 18.

Jesus said, “For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.” (John 12:49 NKJV)

The Messiah was to be a prophet like Moses but he is so much more than Moses. He is the Son! The author of Hebrews writes, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son.” (Hebrews 1:1-2 NKJV)

Since Jesus the Son was greater than the prophets, greater than the angels, “we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.” (Hebrews 2:1)

Hebrews 3:1-6

Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house. For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God. And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.

Song: Light of the World

Oh Jesus, son of God, so full of grace and truth
The Father’s saving word, so wonderful are You
The angels longed to see and prophets searched to find
The glory we have seen revealed

You shone upon the Earth but who will understand?
You came unto Your own but who will recognize?
Your birth was prophesied, for You were the Messiah
Who came and walked upon the Earth
Your glory we have seen, the one and only King
And now You’re living in our hearts

Light of the world, light of the world
Light of the world, You shine upon us

In You all things were made and nothing without You
In Heaven and on Earth all things are held in You
And yet You became flesh, living as one of us
Under the shadow of the cross
Where, through the blood You shed
You have made peace again
Peace for the world that God so loves

Day 9 – A Clue For the Magi

Numbers 24:17

Prophet Balaam and the Donkey – Rembrandt

You may have heard of Balaam. He’s the guy who had a conversation with his donkey. You can read about it in Numbers 22. Balaam was hired by Balak, an enemy of Israel, to curse the people of God. Balaam should have had the sense to immediately reject the offer but he entertained it and the Lord used him anyway to turn Balak’s plan upside down. Truth is truth, even if the mouthpiece is imperfect just as that donkey spoke to Balaam, Balaam in his rebellion spoke this prophecy about the Messiah:

I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; a Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel” – Number 24:17

Here we have another prophecy about a scepter (ruler) coming out of Israel, but what about the Star coming out of Jacob? Prophecy is often poetic and we could take this to be a metaphor like other names for the Messiah such as the “Bright and Morning Star”, “Sun of Righteousness” or the “Dayspring”.

But one group of science geeks from Persia took this literally. We know them as the Magi or the Wise Men and they believed that astronomical events always had some significance. But why would the Persian star gazers have even had this prophecy from the Hebrew scriptures on their radar? Could there be anyone who may have introduced the Hebrew scriptures to the Persian magicians and astronomers?

It was probably Belteshazzar, also known as the prophet Daniel. As a young man, Daniel was taken captive by the Babylonians and instructed in all of their ways and customs. God used him to miraculously interpret the dreams of King Nebuchadnezzar who made him the chief of his magicians and astronomers. I believe that the Torah (writings of Moses), wisdom books and other history books that we have in the Old Testament were brought to Babylon and became part of their library books. It is not documented, but I would guess that Daniel introduced this prophecy to the seers and that he knew that it spoke of the coming Messiah. Daniel himself wrote prophetically about the coming of the Son of Man (see Daniel chapters 7 and 9) and if anyone was paying attention to his prophecy of the seventy weeks they could have been able to estimate the time period when the Messiah would be born.

We don’t know exactly when Jesus was born but many scholars believe it was between 4 and 2 BC. There is evidence of astronomical conjunctions in 2 and 1 BC between the planets Jupiter and Venus and the star Regulus that would have been viewed as signs of a royal birth. The planet Jupiter “rose” in the East during September of 2 BC as seen from Persia and during the following months “traveled” across the sky to the West where there was a second conjunction with Regulus towards the direction of Judea. This very well could have been a sign to the Magi that they were to travel west to Jerusalem. Conjunctions between Venus, Jupiter and Regulus are common but it was a rarity that they would occur multiple times during the span of several months.

The gentile astronomers from the East were watching and were rewarded with being able to see with their own eyes, the star in the sky as well as the “Star” in the manger. Isn’t it interesting that most of the people of Israel were clueless in regards to the timing of Jesus’ birth but the Magi were watching and then obediently sought to worship the newborn King.

Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him. – Matthew 2:2

Hymn: There’s a Song in the Air

There’s a song in the air!
There’s a star in the sky!
There’s a mother’s deep prayer
and a baby’s low cry!
And the star rains its fire
while the beautiful sing,
for the manger of Bethlehem
cradles a King!

There’s a tumult of joy
o’er the wonderful birth,
for the virgin’s sweet boy
is the Lord of the earth.
Ay! the star rains its fire
while the beautiful sing,
for the manger of Bethlehem
cradles a King!

In the light of that star
lie the ages impearled;
and that song from afar
has swept over the world.
Every hearth is aflame,
and the beautiful sing
in the homes of the nations
that Jesus is King!

We rejoice in the light,
and we echo the song
that comes down through the night
from the heavenly throng.
Ay! we shout to the lovely
evangel they bring,
and we greet in his cradle
our Savior and King!

Note: I used to make fun of old Slim Whitman’s greatest hits commercials when I was growing up. Here is my payback. LOL

Day 8 – Submit to the Remedy

Moses and the Brazen Serpent – Sébastien Bourdon

Numbers 21:8-9

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived. – Numbers 21:8-9

In just a few short verses in the book of Numbers we read how the people spoke out to Moses against God, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.” (Numbers 21:5)

Manna, the miraculous bread from heaven had now become “worthless bread” and the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people and those who were bitten died. God told Moses to make a serpent and put it up on a pole. Anyone who simply looked at the serpent would live even if they had been bitten.

I wonder how many perished because they would rather die than humble themselves and look at the foolish serpent up on a pole. It makes me think of my own stubborn heart when I have refused to admit my own fault. Or those of us who are parents may have had those times when we have required our child to apologize to a sibling and have waited for hours for those simple words, “I’m sorry” to be uttered.

What a strange story with eternal implications. The remedy was easily understood and did not require any particular skill: just look at the serpent on the pole. But the act of looking did require that each person admit their fault and submit to the remedy no matter how foolish it seemed. Sadly, with the cure freely given and right in front of them, many died in their stubbon pride.

On one occasion, Nicodemus, a teacher of the law and one very familiar with this story, came to ask Jesus about eternal life. Jesus, told him something that seemed foolish: you must be born again. He then told him how like that serpent that Moses put on a pole, the Son of Man must be lifted up and that “whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” So many people have heard those famous words from John 3:16 but few do what is required: admit their sin and submit to the remedy.

John 3:14-17

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

The apostle Paul wrote the believers in Corinth the following words which are just as true today as they were in the 1st century…

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. – 1 Corinthians 1:18

Hymn: Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne

Emily Elliot wrote these words in 1864 and they were set to the tune “Margaret” in 1876. I love the way the verses tell the matter of fact story of Jesus’ life while the refrain is a personal plea for the Savior to make his home in my heart. There was no room at the inn but there is “room in my heart for Thee.”

Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown
When Thou camest to earth for me
But in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room
For Thy holy nativity
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus
There is room in my heart for Thee

Heaven’s arches rang when the angels sang
Proclaiming Thy royal degree
But of lowly birth didst Thou come to earth
And in great humility
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus
There is room in my heart for Thee

The foxes found rest, and the birds their nest
In the shade of the forest tree
But Thy couch was the sod, O Thou Son of God
In the deserts of Galilee
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus
There is room in my heart for Thee

Thou camest, O Lord, with the living Word
That should set Thy people free
But with mocking scorn and with crown of thorn
They bore Thee to Calvary
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus
There is room in my heart for Thee

When the heavens shall ring, and her choirs sing
At Thy coming to victory
Let Thy voice call me home, saying “Yet there is room
There is room at My side for thee”
My heart shall rejoice, Lord Jesus
When Thou comest and callest for me

Day 7 – Mercy!

Leviticus 16:15-16

Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering, which is for the people, bring its blood inside the veil, do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat and before the mercy seat. So he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, for all their sins; and so he shall do for the tabernacle of meeting which remains among them in the midst of their uncleanness. – Leviticus 16:15-16

In Leviticus chapter 16, we read how the Lord spoke to Moses and gave him specific instructions for how the high priest should offer the sacrifice of atonement. “Tell Aaron your brother not to come at just any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud above the mercy seat.” (Leviticus 16:2)

The mercy seat, kapporeth in Hebrew, is the top lid of the Ark of the Covenant on which the blood of the sacrifice of atonement was sprinkled by the high priest. There were three items inside the ark, the stone tablets inscribed with the ten commandments, Aaron’s almond rod which had budded and a gold jar of manna. There is significance in the fact that the mercy seat covered the law; as the blood of atonement was sprinkled, sin was covered and the people forgiven. This was done, once a year, every year to forgive the sins committed that year.

In the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures, the word hilasterion was used to translate kapporeth, or mercy seat. Hilasterion, is used in Hebrews 9:4-5 in describing “the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat (hilasterion).”

Hilasterion is also used to mean the sacrifice of atonement in the letter to the Romans and is translated as the English word propitiation.

Romans 3:21-26

But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Jesus is our propitiation. He is the mercy seat that covers our sin. We read in the book of Hebrews that Jesus is our High Priest who offered his own blood as the sacrifice for our sins.

Hebrews 9:22-28

And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.

Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another— He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.

The apostle John also tells us that God loved us so much that he gave us his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Thank you Jesus!

In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. – 1 John 4:10

Hymn: What Child is This?

In 1865 William Dix wrote these words sung to the tune of the 16th Century melody “Greensleeves”. You seldom hear the verse that says “Nail, spear shall pierce him through, the Cross be borne for me, for you.” We should always remember that the baby born in a manger grew up to be a man who went to the cross for me and for you.

What child is this, who, laid to rest
On Mary’s lap is sleeping
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing
Haste, haste to bring Him laud
The babe, the son of Mary!

Why lies He in such mean estate
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christian, fear: for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading
Nails, spear shall pierce him through
The Cross be borne for me, for you
Hail, hail the Word Made Flesh
The babe, the son of Mary!

So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh;
Come, peasant, king, to own Him!
The King of Kings salvation brings;
Let loving hearts enthrone Him!
Raise, raise the song on high!
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy! joy! for Christ is born,
The babe, the son of Mary!

Day 6 – Bread From Heaven

Exodus 16:14-15

Manna From Heaven – Stained Glass – Priory Church, Great Malvern

And when the layer of dew lifted, there, on the surface of the wilderness, was a small round substance, as fine as frost on the ground. So when the children of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat. – Exodus 16:14-15

God has a sense of humor. The people in the wilderness were grumbling about not having any food to eat and he miraculously provided food that was like white round drops of dew on the grass and tasted like honey wafers. “Manna” sounds very spiritual but it actually means, “What is this stuff?” The people lived on “What is it” for 40 years until they entered the promised land.

In John chapter 6 we read the account of how the multitudes flocked to see Jesus after he fed the five thousand. Jesus had a prime opportunity to capitalize on his new rise in popularity; everybody was talking about it and coming to see the next miracle with the hopes of getting some free food!

However, the Son of Man does not take polls.

Jesus gave the following discourse as he rebuked the people for their spiritual blindness and offered them what would really satisfy: himself.

John 6:26-40

Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”

Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”

Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”

Therefore they said to Him, “What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.”

And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

The people who heard these words dreamed of seeing or tasting the “What is it”. I believe that God has a sense of humor because he miraculously provided this “stuff” that the people ate for 40 years knowing that like any of us they would grow tired of the daily routine and the lack of variety. It makes me think of Keith Green’s old song, “So You Want to Go Back to Egypt” where the people are complaining, “Manna again? Manna-burgers, Ba-Manna Bread, Manna-cotti?”

God provided for them and kept them alive but played a little joke on them by giving them stuff that would not completely satisfy. Isn’t that like everything that we try to fill ourselves with in this life that is not from the Source of Life? We have an opportunity to write the punchline to God’s joke: we can believe in Him whom he sent and laugh along or we can be miserable and eat our spoiling manna.

I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. – John 6:35 NKJV

Hungry

This worship song by Kathryn Scott is not a Christmas song but it speaks of a hunger for Jesus and that He alone can satisfy.

Hungry, I come to You
For I know You satisfy
I am empty but I know
Your love does not run dry

So I wait for You, So I wait for You

I’m falling on my knees
Offering all of me
Jesus, You’re all this heart is living for

Broken, I run to You
For Your arms are open wide
I am weary but I know
Your love does not run dry

So I wait for You, So I wait for You

I’m falling on my knees
Offering all of me
Jesus, You’re all this heart is living for

Day 5 – An Everlasting Remembrance

Exodus 12:12-14

For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance. – Exodus 12:12-14

We read of the Passover in Exodus chapter 12 when the Lord commanded his people to sacrifice a lamb without blemish and put its blood on the two doorposts and the lintel of their homes. The Lord struck the entire land of Egypt and killed every firstborn male but he passed over the homes that were covered with the blood.

This night was a defining moment for the Jewish people. The Lord commanded in Exodus 12:1, “This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.” With this first feast the Jewish religious calendar was instituted beginning with Passover and the people were commanded to keep the feast as an everlasting remembrance.

The night before he was to be crucified, Jesus celebrated the Passover with his closest friends. He gave them an example of his servant heart by washing their dirty feet. They enjoyed the meal together. Then Jesus did something that they would not understand until much later. He took the bread and said, “this is my body that is broken for you” and took the wine and said, “this is my blood that is shed for you.” He said “do this in remembrance of me.”

We have heard this called the institution of the Lord’s Supper, also known as Communion. But let’s not miss what Jesus was really doing here. He did more than just start something new; he took what had already been given (the Passover) and fulfilled it! He said in Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.”

The elements of the Passover: the lamb, the blood, the Lord passing over and sparing the people from death, the yearly remembrance all served to prepare us for the coming of the Messiah who would say (my paraphrase), “In the same way that this lamb’s body was broken and it’s blood shed to spare you from death, my body will be be broken and my blood shed for you.” He then told them to keep doing this in remembrance of him. He was not telling them to stop celebrating the Passover but that from now on their celebration would be about the fulfilling of the Passover.

Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. – 1 Corinthians 5:7 NKJV

Song: Holy Lamb of God

A virgin cried when You were born
Tears of joy and tears of pain
As Heaven’s angels watched in wonder
How could You, the Ancient One
In the frame of man be bound
Lying there with feet and hands
Fully God and fully Man

Who could see and who could know
You had left Your Kingdom’s Throne
Baby crying in a manger?
You had come to give Your life
As a holy sacrifice
Nails would pierce your feet and hands
For every heart and every man

Holy Lamb of God, how we love You
Shepherd of our hearts, how we praise You
We were blind and lost, but You came to rescue us
And we thank You, Holy Lamb of God

Now You are the risen One
All You came to do You’ve done
On this Christmas, we remember
How Love came down to set us free
From our sin and from our fear
Lord of all we bow our hearts
To the wonder that You are

Day 4 – Until Shiloh Comes

The Procession in the Streets of Jerusalem – James Tissot

Genesis 49:10

The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people. – Genesis 49:10 NKJV

The name Shiloh comes from the same root word for Shalom, meaning peace. This blessing that Jacob spoke to his son Judah in Genesis 49 was a prophetic word regarding the coming Messiah, the Prince of Peace.

The term “scepter” refers to the ability of the Jewish people to maintain their tribal identity and to enforce Mosaic laws and adjudicate capital offenses. Even during the Babylonian captivity the tribes maintained their identity and had judges. (Reference: Josh McDowell’s Evidence that Demands a Verdict)

During the time of Jesus, and definitely with the overthrow of Jerusalem in 70 AD by the Romans, the authority for the Jewish leaders to punish capital offenses was removed. The scepter, the ruling authority over the nation, had departed from Israel. And thus the prophecy is fulfilled. The scepter did not depart from Judah until Shiloh, The Messiah, had come.

It is also interesting to note that the phrase “and to Him shall be the obedience of the people” has also been translated “the gathering of the people” (e.g., KJV). Recall that when Jesus was lamenting over Jerusalem he said:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ” – Matthew 23:37-39 NKJV

Hymn: O Come, O Come Emmanuel

The words of this hymn “Veni, veni Emanuel” were gathered from various “antiphons” by an unknown author in the 12th century. In 1856 Thomas Helmore set the words to the tune of a 15th Cen­tu­ry pro­cess­ion­al of French Fran­cis­can nuns.

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high
And order all things mightily
To us the path of knowledge show
And teach us in her ways to go

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of hell Thy people save
And give them victory over the grave

O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight

O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease
And be Thyself our King of Peace

Day 3 – The Gate of Heaven

Jacob’s Dream – Bartolomé Esteban Murillo

Genesis 28:17

Children are often taught the story of Jacob’s Ladder; the vision that Jacob saw when he was sleeping in the place he named Bethel. I wonder if anyone ever teaches that this is a Messianic prophecy?

Here’s the passage:

Genesis 28:10-17

Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran. So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.

And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”

Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!”

We see that Jacob, like his father and grandfather, received a promise from God for his descendants. But what about the part about the ladder with the angels going up and down. Did you know that the Messiah IS Jacob’s Ladder? Not one of the angels but THE LADDER. What??? Find out from his own words, first when he met Nathaniel and told him that he would see the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.

John 1:43-51 NKJV

The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!”

Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?”

Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”

Nathanael answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

In John chapter 10 Jesus said that he was the door, or gate, for the sheep.

John 10:7-10 NKJV

Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

The way, the entrance to heaven is through the Son of God, Jesus Christ and that is the meaning of the prophetic vision given to Jacob that through his seed, the Messiah, all nations would be blessed. He is The Gate of Heaven and all who believe are welcome to enter in.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. – John 14:6 NKJV

Hymn: Joy to the Word

Yesterday we read about the curse in Genesis 3:15. But as one of the verses written by Isaac Watts in 1719 says, “No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground. He comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found.” Yes!

Joy to the world ! The Lord is come
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart prepare him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing

Joy to the world! The Savior reigns
Let men their songs employ
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy

No more let sins and sorrows grow
Nor thorns infest the ground
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found
Far as the curse is found
Far as, far as, the curse is found

He rules the world with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of His love
And wonders of His love
And wonders, wonders, of His love

Please enjoy the following, very unique rendition of Joy to the World (with a little Three Dog Night inserted in there at one point)

Day 1 – Messiah Gives a Bible Study

The Road to Emmaus – Robert Zund

Luke 24:27

And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. (Luke 24:27 NKJV)

When I was a kid my grandparents had a painting in their home of the Messiah walking with the two men on the Road to Emmaus. I remember hearing the story about how the resurrected Jesus met the travelers and discussed with them the latest news from Jerusalem. What I don’t seem to have grasped at the time was that Jesus rebuked the two for not knowing what the Old Testament scriptures taught: that Messiah would suffer, be executed and would rise again.

He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ (Messiah) to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. (Luke 24:26-27 NKJV)

I wonder what it would have been like to be a part of that Bible study with Jesus himself, explaining from the scriptures all of the prophesies concerning himself and that all that had come to pass had been part of the plan. I can’t wait to hear it from him with my own ears!

Today’s passage from the Gospel of Luke sets the stage for the next 24 days of advent. Each day we will look at one key verse of scripture along with related passages that may have been a part of the Messiah’s Bible study concerning himself. We’ll begin with some scriptures from the Torah, written by Moses (the first five books of the Old Testament). Then we will also look at scriptures from the prophets, including Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah and David who in addition to being a prophet was also a king.

Luke 24:13-35 NKJV

Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.

And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?”

Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?”

And He said to them, “What things?”

So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.”

Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. But they constrained Him, saying, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” And He went in to stay with them.

Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.

And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.


Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

Charles Wesley wrote the words to this Advent hymn in 1745. It is usually sung to the tune of Hyfyrdol, a Welsh tune composed by Rowland Pritchard. The tune is used in several other Christian hymns.

Come, thou long expected Jesus,
Born to set thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Joy to those who long to see thee,
Dayspring from on high, appear;
Come, thou promised Rod of Jesse,
Of thy birth we long to hear!
O’er the hills the angels singing
News, glad tidings of a birth;
“Go to him, your praises bringing;
Christ the Lord has come to earth.”

Come to earth to taste our sadness,
He whose glories knew no end;
By his life he brings us gladness,
Our Redeemer, Shepherd, Friend.
Leaving riches without number,
Born within a cattle stall;
This the everlasting wonder,
Christ was born the Lord of all.

Born thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to thy glorious throne.