We all know Jesus wasn’t born on December 25, but there is certainly no harm in celebrating the birth of the greatest gift man has ever been given. After all, we regularly rearrange the celebration of our own birthdays or of those we love for convenience sake, so we can certainly do the same for the Lord.
The pagan roots of December 25th’s Saturnalia festival doesn’t bother us because knowing about the pagan roots of Christmas doesn’t mean we are practicing nor condoning it any more than does the giving of flowers on Valentine’s Day to our loved one.
You remember Valentine’s Day, February 14 – Did you know it was the fertility festival of Lupercalia, the day young women’s names were written on paper and put in a jar to be chosen by young men to have sex with, scourging them first with whips as it was believed that enhanced their fertility before sex. February 14 and Lupercalia started nature’s ‘mating season’ it was believed.
But I don’t care about those pagan roots of Valentine’s Day any more than I care about the pagan roots of Christmas, for my celebration of Jesus’ birth and the celebration of my wife’s and my love for each other are both unto the Lord. Our celebration is unto the Lord even as they who choose not to celebrate the day do so unto the Lord, and He accepts us both. We are therefore at peace with one another, as directed by scripture in Romans 14:1-12 in particular.
Now to the subject: The son is given, the child is born
Isaiah 9:6 tells us, “Unto us a son is given, unto us a child is born, and the government shall rest upon His shoulders…”
The Son had to first be given from heaven so He could become the child born in Bethlehem.
“Father! Give me glory in your presence now, the same glory I had with you before the world was made.” John 17:5
“Father! You have given them to me, and I want them to be with me where I am, so they may see my glory, the glory you gave me, for you loved me before the world was made!” John 17:24 (both quotes are from the Good News Translation)
“For as the Father has life in Himself, so too has He given the Son to have life in Himself, and given Him the authority to execute judgement because He is also (became) the Son of Man.” John 5:26-27
The person of Christ, the Word, in the Old Testament
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God…and the Word became flesh and lived among us.” John 1:1-2, 14
So what did John mean in 1:14 when he said ‘The Word (of the Father) became flesh and lived among us.”?
The boy Samuel
In I Samuel 3 we find the boy Samuel serving Eli the high priest in the tabernacle. Verse 1 sets the stage saying “The Word of the Lord was rare in those days, there was no open vision.” This forever links seeing the Word of the Lord to a vision.
The Lord calls out to Samuel by name for the first time in v4, and the boy thinks it is Eli calling for him, as v7 says “For Samuel didn’t yet know the Lord, neither was the Word of the Lord revealed to him.”
You know the story – the Lord calls to Samuel three times, each time by name, “Samuel, Samuel”, and each time he goes to Eli thinking it is him. Eli realizes what is going on that third time and tells Samuel it is the Lord, and to answer when he hears His voice.
Up to this point you might think the voice of the Lord was something like a voice in Samuel’s mind, or maybe somehow an invisible but audible voice. Both those assumptions would be wrong, for v10 says: “The Lord came and stood as He had at the other times, and said, “Samuel, Samuel.”
We know this was indeed a vision of the Lord for verse 15 says “Now Samuel was afraid to tell Eli about the vision.” Samuel saw the Person of the Word of the Lord. He came into Samuel’s room and spoke to him…amazing.
But wait – there’s more! The Word of the Lord
Verse 21 sums it up and sets the course for all prophets that would follow Samuel: “And the Lord appeared again (to him) in Shiloh, for the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel as the Word of the Lord.”
Samuel was called a seer, which was another name for prophet because seer’s can see into the Spirit realm, and because he was the first of the prophets to Israel and ushered in Israel’s first king, he is the paragon – the perfect example – of all prophets to follow.
This means when we read the Old Testament prophets and they say “The Word of the Lord came to…” they are not talking about a voice in their mind, nor are they saying an unseen hand guided their pen to write down ‘words’ for Israel or Judah or some individual.
When they say “The Word of the Lord came to…” they are saying as with Samuel, they had a vision of the Person of the Word of the Lord and He said to them whatever that message was that was later included in, and as part of scripture.
Jeremiah 1:1-9 is a great example
“The Word of the Lord came to me saying, ‘Before I formed you in the belly I knew you, and called you to be a prophet to the nations.’ I said ‘But Lord, I am a child’ (Hebrew word used here for ‘child’, na’ar, indicates he was not yet a teenager)…but the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth, saying ‘I have put my words into your mouth’…”
Notice the Word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, and put forth His hand. Like Samuel who lived 600 years before him, the Word of the Lord was still appearing as the Person of the Word of the Lord to the prophets. When the prophets say ‘The Word of the Lord says’, they are just repeating what they heard in their vision the Person of the Word of the Lord say.
Time and space would fail me to go into detail, from Genesis 15:1 where the Word of the Lord appears to father Abram and tells him to count the stars so many will be his descendants, to Ezekiel 1:3 when Ezekiel says the Word of the Lord comes to him in a vision as he stood on the banks of the river, to Jonah who had the Word of the Lord come to him and tell him to go to Nineveh, to Isaiah and all the ‘minor’ (smaller books) prophets who all say ‘The Word of the Lord that came to…’ and ‘The Word of the Lord says…’
(I go into more detail in my ‘I AM; Who Jesus is and where He came from’ series if interested in pursuing this line of study.)
The Word became flesh
And now consider what the apostle John said in 1:14 when he said ‘The Word (of the Lord) became flesh and lived among us.’ What an amazing statement! That the Person of the Word of the Lord who had appeared to Abram and to the prophets starting with Samuel down through the centuries, has now become flesh and lived among them – wow!
What must have been running through the minds of John and Peter and the others -the Word that spoke to Abraham, Samuel, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the rest – and He was right there eating dinner with them, walking with them, teaching them…wow.
How did that transition happen, to go from the Word of the Lord who appeared to people down through the centuries, to a baby conceived in a teenager’s womb?
That’s next week! Until then, blessings,