Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Jesse Tree: December 5

December 5:
Hang ornament with star

Today’s ornament is the star.  I bet you can think of several different Bible stories that involve stars, but today we are going to talk about God’s promise to Abraham. 

We live way out in the country in Mississippi.  There are no street lights or city lights, and when we turn off our house lights and go outside on a clear night, the stars are AMAZING.  We can see so many more than when we are in town, and we would not even dream of trying to count them all!  

Let’s think about Abram (whose name was changed to Abraham).  There was no electricity in his day, and so at night everything for miles and miles was dark.  It’s easy to imagine what the sky might have looked like on the evening when the Lord spoke to Abram.    

1 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying,
“Do not fear, Abram,
I am a shield to you;
Your reward shall be very great.”
2 Abram said, “O Lord God, what will You give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “Since You have given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my heir.” 4 Then behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.” 5 And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.
Abram was old.  His wife Sarah was old.  They had not yet had any children, and there were a LOT of stars.  The promise of descendants numbering the stars seemed incredible.  YET ABRAM BELIEVED GOD, and God counted him righteous.  
There are two things going on here.  On one level, there is the amazing power of God and the granting of a child to Abram and Sarah against all odds.  Now childless Abram would have an heir, and Abram would become Abraham; he would be known as one of the patriarchs- Abraham, Isaac, Jacob- and the 12 tribes of Israel would be born directly through him.   
That’s great- and even miraculous- but why would we put this star on the Jesse Tree as we expectantly wait for the celebration of the birth of Christ?  
On another level, there is the promise of the coming of Christ through Abraham’s family line. We can look to Galatians Chapter 3 in the New Testament for a little explanation.  
Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer...
16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ...
29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise. (Galatians 3:6-9, 16, 29 NASB)
Galatians tells us that Abrahams’s descendants are not only those who are directly related to him.  All who are in Christ are the offspring of Abraham, and therefore heirs. 
 When we look up at the stars on a clear night, we quickly realize that it is impossible to count them all. When God told Abram to “count the stars, if you are able to count them”, He knew it would be impossible for Abram also. Yet even small children can count to one, and there is one Star on which we can continuously gaze. 
The wise men actually saw a star in the sky which guided them to Jesus. We have much better than that. We have the Word of God and the Spirit of God to guide us to Christ, the only Star really worth gazing upon. It is those who follow that Star who are the real descendants of Abraham.

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