Twelve Days to Christmas
Today we start a "The Twelve Days of Christmas." Each study ill be, by necessity, just brief introductions to the themes contained within them.
The birth of Jesus Christ is the most celebrated around the world. The celebrations transcend cultures, peoples, and languages. The celebrations are also just as diverse. Of course most people stop with Jesus being a baby and continue no further with Him. Jesus Christ is the most unique person in history. Jesus Christ is also the most divisive person to be found at any time and anywhere. Almost everyone has an opinion about Him, even if that opinion is based on ignorance, silence or misinformation.
As Christians we believe that Jesus' birth was the culmination of thousands of years of God telling the world that He was coming. From the time of the Fall when people showed active rebellion and disobedience towards God in Genesis 3, God was planning the time when He would step into history in the man, Jesus Christ. Throughout the Old Testament, we see that the birth, life and mission of Jesus Christ is the aim and focus of attention. We see it in the stories of people like Abraham and Moses. We see it in the nation of Israel, which was to be God's light to all the nations. We see it in the Israelite sacrificial system and law. We see it during the time of the Judges and the Kings. We especially see it through the prophets.
The whole Old Testament is joined together, because it all speaks about this baby, Jesus Christ. This baby, who was both 100% human and 100% divine, grew in wisdom and stature. This baby was born in order that He would die on a cross some 33 years later. He did not die for his own sins, but for the sins of the entire world - all past, present and future sins. This baby was born to die so that the entire world may have life and life everlasting, if each individual chooses to accept it.
Let us discover together what two people had to say about him. These twelve studies will based in the book of Isaiah and the book of Zechariah. Firstly, let me introduce these two books to you.
The author is self-identified as Isaiah, and his name means "The Lord Saves". Isaiah wrote around the same time as Amos, Hosea and Micah. He started about 740BC and it was during this time, that Israel was declining and the Assyrian Empire rapidly expanding.
In his writings, Isaiah reveals a great deal regarding God's judgment on sin and salvation from sin. During these studies, as we have seen, will primarily focus on the later chapters.
Key verses are:
Isaiah 9:6-7 - For to us a child is born. To us a son is given; and the government will be on his shoulders. His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 9:7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, on the throne of David, and on his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from that time on, even forever. The zeal of Yahweh of Armies will perform this.
Isaiah 53:5-6 - But he was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought our peace was on him; and by his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray. Everyone has turned to his own way; and Yahweh has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
The author, again, is self-identified, in this case Zechariah. Zechariah, a young man, was not only a prophet, but also a member of a priestly family. He was born in Babylon and had returned to Jerusalem under Zerubbabel's leadership. Zechariah was active around the same time as the prophet Haggai.
This period of time, 520BC to 480BC, occurred in the postexilic period after Israel was restored from Babylonian captivity.
Key verses are
Zechariah 8:3 - Thus says Yahweh: "I have returned to Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called ‘The City of Truth;' and the mountain of Yahweh of Armies, ‘The Holy Mountain.'"
Zechariah 9:9 - Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion! Shout, daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King comes to you! He is righteous, and having salvation; lowly, and riding on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
So there we have a very brief introduction to the book of Isaiah and the book of Zechariah.