Voices of Christmas: Rachel Weeping for her Children

This seems to be a strange thing to talk about during a joyful time like Christmas.  Murder and weeping.   Perhaps that’s because we don’t stop to consider all that was involved in bringing that time to us.  Not everyone was as excited as the Jews about their coming Messiah.  Not everyone understands the coming of the Lord Jesus to this earth.

Although the fulfillment of this verse is found in Matthew 2:18 and Herod’s slaughter of the innocents, as it’s called, the prophecy itself is found in Jeremiah 31:15.  The whole section of Jeremiah 30-33 should be read and studied to get a full view of the context.

Without going into a lot of detail, Jeremiah is in prison, the city is about to be captured and destroyed and the Israelites dispersed into other countries, with folks from other countries brought in to replace them.  In the midst of all this coming strife and turmoil, the Lord tells Jeremiah to buy a particular piece of land. Jeremiah was utterly confused by all this.  After all, the Lord told him that He was going to give the city and the land into the hand of Israel’s enemies – before He told Jeremiah to buy this land.  Jeremiah’s confusion is seen in Jeremiah 32:25, “And You have said to me, O LORD God, ‘Buy the field for money, and take witnesses’! – yet the city is given into the hand of the Chaldeans.”   You can almost hear his perplexity.  In chs. 32 and 33, God fully answers Jeremiah.  Though the city is indeed to be judged for her continuing sin and rebellion against God, still, there is coming a time when she will be inhabited again.

I know that these and similar verses are commonly said to have fulfilled at the return of the Jews from Babylon under Nehemiah and Ezra.  Although there might have been some partial fulfillment at that time, it’s difficult to me to see how verses like Jeremiah 31:34 were fulfilled in the records of Ezra, Nehemiah, Habakkuk and Malachi.  That verse reads, No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, “Know the LORD,” for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD.  For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.

However, in order for that to happen, something else has to happen.  It couldn’t have happened at the Return, because that “something else” hadn’t happened yet.

I’ll admit, I’ve had some trouble getting this post to come together.  It wasn’t until I remembered to whom Matthew was writing, indeed who Matthew was himself, that it began to jell.  The godly or believing Jew would have been familiar with the passage in Jeremiah.  Matthew puts it into historical context because there’s nothing in Jeremiah that really explains the significance of the verse.  Just reading it in Jeremiah might lead one to believe that it might have something to do with the bloodshed and sorrow of Israel as she was battered by her enemies and carried into captivity.  There’s so much more to it than that.  Matthew reveals that it was prophesying something that would happen when the Deliverer of Israel was born.  Without Him, the redemptive promises – the “deliverance” – in Jeremiah would never happen.

As we look at the Babe in the Manger, do we really remember who He was and why He came?  Or is it more about the Christmas festivities, the baking and cooking, the presents, the decorations, the family get-togethers, with Jesus just sort of thrown into the mix, perhaps not as an afterthought, but still not the center of attention.  That is, if He’s there at all.

I remember several years ago some lady being upset that “they” had injected religion into Christmas.  And today, witness the turning away of society even from the term “Christmas.”  It’s no longer politically correct even to say “Merry Christmas.”  We must now say “Happy Holidays,” lest we offend unbelievers.  Never mind that we offend God in the process.  Nativity scenes are no longer permitted in civic displays because that’s “establishing religion.”  Better, apparently, to establish non-religion.

Rachel “wept” because some in her day thought so, too.  The murder of infants and toddlers occurred because God dared to “interfere” in human affairs.  We’ll talk about this some more in another post.

For now, remember “the reason for the season.”  It has nothing to do with our joy, but with our sin.  The Babe reminds us that, though we need saving from our sins, there’s not a single thing we can do to make that happen.

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ…, 2 Corinthians 8:9.

The Reason for the Season

I know a person who always uses the slogan “Jesus is the reason for the season” this time of year.  I appreciate the sentiment, trying to draw attention back to the reason we celebrate Christmas and to get it away from all the sentimentality of “twas the night before Christmas,” etc., etc. Now that we’ve gotten past “Black Thursday” and “Black Friday,” and are preparing to enter “Black December,” with its incessant advertising and programming to get us into “the holiday spirit,” perhaps it’s time to look at the slogan again.

By the way, if Christmas is such a wonderful time, why is everybody always so glad when it’s over?  Forgive me if I sound like the Grinch, but I have no particular fondness for all that Christmas has become.  I was really upset to see the first Christmas advertising two weeks before Thanksgiving.  They used at least to wait for Thanksgiving to pass to start Christmas ads.  I rejoice in the Virgin Birth, but really dislike all the barnacles that have attached themselves to “the good ship Grace” about this and other things over the centuries.  (If you remember that phrase, then you’re giving away your age.)

Back to the slogan.

“Jesus is the reason for the season.”

That just brings up another question.  WHY is Jesus the reason, etc.?  Why did He come to this earth in the first place?

Galatians 4:4 (NKJV)  gives us the actual “reason for the season”:  But when the fulness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who are under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.  Another verse takes us even deeper into the divine counsel, that in the dispensation of the fulness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth – in Him, Ephesians 1:10.

You see, there has been a disruption in creation.  In the words of Romans 5:12, sin entered.  It’s no use trying to figure out the whys and the wherefores; the fact is that it happened and we see the results around us, and in us, every day.  The reason for the season is found in the mind of God.  He would “answer the sin problem.”  He would heal the disruption.  The manger was just the first step in that answer, that healing.

Mary wrapped the Infant in “swaddling clothes,” that is, with strips of cloth.  That’s how they took care of babies, and that’s how they prepared a body for burial.  Even in His birth, there was a foreshadowing of His death.

However you observe Christmas, please remember that He wasn’t born so we could give each other gifts, put up all kinds of decorations, get together and have fun.  These may be all well and good and have their place, but….

Jesus was born in order that He might live, and then that He might die….