What Do You Want For Christmas?

This morning as I read the devotional scriptures in My Daily Bible app a couple things caught my attention.

DailyPlan : one-year-tract : 2019-12-20 #Bible https://www.mydailybible.org/dp/esv/one-year-tract/2019-12-20.htm

In the book of 2 Chronicles 24 I read how Joash began to reign as king of Judah at 7 years of age but only reigned for 40 years. I thought that’s odd for starting out so young. His demise came when his spiritual adviser, Jehoiada the priest, died at the ripe old age of 130 (verse 15). It was then that Joash began to listen to the advise of “the princes of Judah” and set back up groves for idol worship (17-18). Then Zechariah the son of Jehoiada came with a Word from God to rebuke king Joash,

2 Chronicles 24:20-22 Then the Spirit of God [a]came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, who stood above the people, and said to them, “Thus says God: ‘Why do you transgress the commandments of the Lord, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the Lord, He also has forsaken you.’ ” 21 So they conspired against him, and at the command of the king they stoned him with stones in the court of the house of the Lord. 22 Thus Joash the king did not remember the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him, but killed his son; and as he died, he said, “The Lord look on it, and repay!”

Joash was the king that saw to it that Solomon’s Temple was repaired when even the priests failed to get it done. How far and how fast he fell from a person who desired pleasing God after listening to ungodly counsel.

Then in the readings from the book of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, son of Iddo, chapter 7 who is a different Zechariah from the one mentioned above, I read this,

Zechariah 7:1-2  In the fourth year of King Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah on the fourth day of the ninth month, which is Chislev. 2 Now the people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regem-melech and their men to entreat the favor of the Lord, 3 saying to the priests of the house of the Lord of hosts and the prophets, “Should I weep and abstain in the fifth month, as I have done for so many years?”

Chislev or Kislev is the month of the Hebrew religious calendar that corresponds to our December. These two men wanted to know if the people needed to continue after 70 years of fervent mourning, fasting and prayer. The 5th month is Av, the month the temple had been destroyed and the 7th is Tishrei when the Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement and Feast of Tabernacles is observed. The people see that the judgment of God against Judah is ending and He is letting them return to their land. Maybe they can “coast” and cut back on the “fasting and prayer” time they think they have been giving to God.

Their question comes in the month of December. It’s a time when I can safely say that almost everyone has a question like that taking dominance in their minds. “What does, (fill in the blank) want for Christmas. Most people have multiple questions, even dozens of questions like that dominating our mind at this time of the year. We rack our brain trying to come up with the perfect gift (s) for the people we wish to please. What makes it so hard is that most of us already have so much. Let’s be honest, for most Americans Christmas is a year round thing. Who waits until Christmas to get something they want and that’s why it’s so hard to find the “perfect gift” that they’ll want or need.

But what was God’s answer given by the prophet Zechariah for what He wants in this Christmas month,

Zechariah 7:4-14 Then the word of the Lord of hosts came to me: 5 “Say to all the people of the land and the priests, When you fasted and mourned in the fifth month and in the seventh, for these seventy years, was it for me that you fasted? 6 And when you eat and when you drink, do you not eat for yourselves and drink for yourselves? 7 Were not these the words that the Lord proclaimed by the former prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited and prosperous, with her cities around her, and the South and the lowland were inhabited?”

8 And the word of the Lord came to Zechariah, saying, 9 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, 10 do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” 11 But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear. 12 They made their hearts diamond-hard lest they should hear the law and the words that the Lord of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets. Therefore great anger came from the Lord of hosts. 13 “As I called, and they would not hear, so they called, and I would not hear,” says the Lord of hosts, 14 “and I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations that they had not known. Thus the land they left was desolate, so that no one went to and fro, and the pleasant land was made desolate.”

This verse is almost the same as what God spoke to the prophet Isaiah,

Isaiah 58:3-9 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen?
Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’

“In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure,
And exploit all your laborers.
4 Indeed you fast for strife and debate,
And to strike with the fist of wickedness.
You will not fast as you do this day,
To make your voice heard on high.
5 Is it a fast that I have chosen,
A day for a man to afflict his soul?
Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush,
And to spread out sackcloth and ashes?
Would you call this a fast,
And an acceptable day to the Lord?

6 “Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’

We as Christians try hard to keep Yeshua Jesus Christ at the center of Christmas. It’s something we have to keep reminding ourselves about because the “Questions” in our minds of what to get (fill in the blank) are hard to answer. But isn’t there someone on our list, we Christians say is the top of our list, that we often forget to think about what He wants for Christmas?

As we remind ourselves that we celebrate Christmas as the gift God gave us through the birth of His One and Only Begotten Son Jesus, let us not forget the “Big Picture.”

The country and town Jesus was born in was a very religious place. The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah (“Dedication”) commemorates the restoration of Jewish worship at the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 164 BCE by Judah Maccabee was surely in their mind. A one day supply of Holy Anointed oil miraculously lasted for 8 days. God’s hand of favor pointed to the “Light of the world” that would come for real through Yeshua Jesus, His Son who said “I Am the Light of the World.”

John 1:1-5 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

When Mary and Joseph went to the inn looking for a place to stay on a cold winter’s night, we are told there was “no place for them.” Surely someone answered the door to tell them and surely they noticed that Mary was 9 months pregnant. Their hearts did not reflect the concern and compassion for their fellow citizens that God spoke to Zechariah and Isaiah. No one offered to give up their bed for a woman in Mary’s condition. No one considered giving up some of their comfort that a child could be born indoors in a warm environment. Maybe they selfishly thought about all the noise and commotion of a woman in labor and a newborn crying baby and wanted no part of it. God painted an ugly picture of the heart of His people even before Jesus came forth from Mary’s womb. You could say He was despised and rejected from the “get go.”

If you reading this is a professing Christian, I’m sure at some time, maybe many times, you have said that God and Jesus are the “most important things in my life.” May we all remember to keep God and Jesus on the top of our list when we are asking that important question, “Dear Heavenly Father, what do you want for Christmas?”

Some of the answer is in the verses of Zechariah and Isaiah but let’s not try to assume that we fully know the mind of God. Instead, let’s seek His Heart with a desire to hear from God in such a day as this.

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