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Isaiah 60:1-6 1
1 “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. 2 See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. 3 Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. 4 “Lift up your eyes and look about you: All assemble and come to you; your sons come from afar, and your daughters are carried on the hip. 5 Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy; the wealth on the seas will be brought to you, to you the riches of the nations will come. 6 Herds of camels will cover your land, young camels of Midian and Ephah. And all from Sheba will come, bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the LORD.

clip_image160Biblical Truths 2

Verses 1-8 – As far as we have the knowledge of God in us, and the favor of God towards us, our light is come. And if God’s glory is seen upon us to our honor, we ought, not only with our lips, but in our lives, to return its praise. We meet with nothing in the history of the Jews which can be deemed a fulfillment of the prophecy in this chapter; we must conclude it relates principally to future events. It predicts the purity and enlargement of the church. The conversion of souls is here described. They fly to Christ, to the church, to the word and ordinances, as doves to their own home; thither they fly for refuge and shelter, thither they fly for rest. What a pleasant sight to see poor souls hastening to Christ!

Items for Discussion

  • In what way does the modern Christian church uphold the spirit of these Old Testament verses?
  • These verses and prophecy seem to indicate physical wealth accompanying the Messiah. Knowing what we know today about Christ, how might we interpret the wealth brought to us by Jesus?
  • Why do you believe there has been such a preoccupation with wealth throughout history?
  • Do you believe there will come a time when wealth will not have such a high appeal? If so, what might replace it?

 

Psalm 76
1 Endow the king with your justice, O God, the royal son with your righteousness. 2 May he judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice. 3 May the mountains bring prosperity to the people, the hills the fruit of righteousness. 4 May he defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; may he crush the oppressor. 5 May he endure as long as the sun, as long as the moon, through all generations. 6 May he be like rain falling on a mown field, like showers watering the earth. 7 In his days may the righteous flourish and prosperity abound till the moon is no more. 8 May he rule from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. 9 May the desert tribes bow before him and his enemies lick the dust. 10 May the kings of Tarshish and of distant shores bring tribute to him. May the kings of Sheba and Seba present him gifts. 11 May all kings bow down to him and all nations serve him. 12 For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. 13 He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. 14 He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight. 15 Long may he live! May gold from Sheba be given him. May people ever pray for him and bless him all day long. 16 May grain abound throughout the land; on the tops of the hills may it sway. May the crops flourish like Lebanon and thrive like the grass of the field. 17 May his name endure forever; may it continue as long as the sun. Then all nations will be blessed through him, and they will call him blessed. 18 Praise be to the LORD God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds. 19 Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen. 20 This concludes the prayers of David son of Jesse.

Bible Truths 3

This is a prophecy of the kingdom of Christ; many passages in it cannot be applied to the reign of Solomon. There were righteousness and peace at first in the administration of his government; but, before the end of his reign, there were troubles and unrighteousness. The kingdom here spoken of is to last as long as the sun, but Solomon’s was soon at an end. Even the Jewish expositors understood it of the kingdom of the Messiah. Observe many great and precious promises here made, which were to have full accomplishment only in the kingdom of Christ. As far as his kingdom is set up, discord and contentions cease, in families, churches, and nations. The law of Christ, written in the heart, disposes men to be honest and just, and to render to all their due; it likewise disposes men to live in love, and so produces abundance of peace. Holiness and love shall be lasting in Christ’s kingdom.

Through all the changes of the world, and all the changes of life, Christ’s kingdom will support itself. And he shall, by the graces and comforts of his Spirit, come down like rain upon the mown grass; not on that cut down, but that which is left growing, that it may spring again. His gospel has been, or shall be, preached to all nations. Though he needs not the services of any, yet he must be served with the best. Those that have the wealth of this world, must serve Christ with it, do good with it. Prayer shall be made through him, or for his sake; whatever we ask of the Father, should be in his name. Praises shall be offered to him: we are under the highest obligations to him. Christ only shall be feared throughout all generations. To the end of time, and to eternity, his name shall be praised. All nations shall call HIM blessed.

We are taught to bless God in Christ, for all he has done for us by him. David is earnest in prayer for the fulfillment of this prophecy and promise. It is sad to think how empty the earth is of the glory of God, how little service and honor he has from a world to which he is so bountiful. May we, like David, submit to Christ’s authority, and partake of his righteousness and peace. May we bless him for the wonders of redeeming love. May we spend our days, and end our lives, praying for the spread of his gospel.

Items for Discussion

  • What kind of world is this prophecy pointing to?
  • Why do you think so many people forget that God is active in the world today and interested in us today?
  • What is risked if we postpone this world for the next one to come?

 

Matthew 2:1-12
1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: 6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” 7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” 9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

Biblical Truths 4

Verses 1-2 ‘Bethlehem’ means ‘house of bread’. It is a small town six miles from Jerusalem. It was the home of David (1 Samuel 16). The Jews were expecting a king who would come from David’s town. This king would be even greater than his ancestor, King David.

The ‘wise men’ studied the stars. The Greek word for them is ‘magi’. They probably came from Persia. Christians often call them ‘kings’. God’s servant Isaiah wrote about this long before this time. He said that other nations and ‘kings’ would come to give honour to God’s light in Jerusalem (Isaiah 60:3). Psalm 72:10-11 describes ‘kings’ who bring their gifts to a great ruler. The idea of ‘kings’ probably comes from these verses.
Verse 2 We do not know what the ‘star’ was.

Verse 3 The Romans allowed Herod to rule as Judea’s king. But he was very afraid that he would lose his power. Herod suspected that some men wanted to be the ruler instead of him. So he killed anyone whom he suspected. He even murdered three of his own sons. He thought that they were plotting against him. The great Roman king Augustus said that it was not safe to be Herod’s son. He said that it was safer to be Herod’s pig.
The people in Jerusalem were worried. They knew that Herod would remove the child. And they knew how he might do it.

Verses 4-6 The ‘chief priests’ were those who had been high priest. The chief priests came from a few special families. The men who taught the law were experts. They explained the Old Testament. They reminded Herod of what God’s servant Micah wrote long ago (Micah 5:2). God had promised that the ruler would come from Bethlehem. They gave the right answer, but they did not go to Bethlehem. They did not go to see whether Micah’s words had come true or not.

Verses 7-8 Herod pretended that he wanted to show respect to the new king. Instead, Herod was making plans to kill him. He wanted to know when the wise men first saw the star. Then he would know how old the child was.

Verses 9-11 The wise men arrived in Bethlehem a long time after the birth of Jesus. The men who look after sheep had seen the ‘baby’ at the beginning. He was in a box where they usually put animal food (Luke 2:16). Matthew says that the wise men went into the house. They saw the ‘child’ with his mother. The wise men may have travelled for nearly two years to find this new king. People think that there were three wise men because there were three gifts. ‘Gold’ showed that Jesus was a king. ‘Frankincense’ showed that Jesus was a priest. The priests offered it to God when they worshipped him in the Temple. Because of Jesus, people would be able to come near to God. People used to put ‘myrrh’ on dead bodies. This gift showed that Jesus would die. He would rescue people from their sin.

Verse 12 The wise men did not tell King Herod where Jesus was.

Items for Discussion

  • Common beliefs today are that stars and planets in retrograde formed an unusual bright light in the sky, so unusual that Magi knew a great historical event was happening. Discuss what you know about how stars and planets move.
  • If one accepts the creation of the universe by God, how would events such as bright stars be viewed by believers?
  • Where do you see Satan in this story?
  • Where is the power in this story?
  • How do people today try to destroy God’s plans?

Discussion Challenge

  • How do we keep the joy of an active and loving God alive all year?

 

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