Posts Tagged ‘birth of Jesus Christ’

A sign: Wrapped in swaddling clothes

December 23, 2017

As the events surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ, the Savior, continue to unfold, we note that a more complete unfolding of the narrative is found in the Verse of the Day for December 23, 2017:

Luke 2:11-14 (Amplified Bible):

For this day in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (the Messiah). And this will be a sign for you [by which you will recognize Him]: you will find a Baby wrapped in [swaddling] cloths and lying in a manger.” Then suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host (angelic army) praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest [heaven], And on earth peace among men with whom He is well-pleased.”

This passage contains a reference to an ancient custom associated with birth, that is, Mary wrapped the child in “swaddling cloths” or as the King James Version renders “swaddling clothes” or “swaddling strips” in the New Living Translation. This practice was also mentioned earlier in Luke 2:6-7:

6 While they were there [in Bethlehem], the time came for her to give birth, 7 and she gave birth to her Son, her firstborn; and she wrapped Him in [swaddling] cloths and laid Him in a manger, because there was no [private] room for them in the inn.

These passages refer to the practice whereby a child, particularly a child of royal lineage, was to be salted and swaddled. Shortly after birth, the child would be washed with water into which a pinch of salt had been added, symbolizing a covenant of salt, whereby the words spoken by the child would be words of truth, always seasoned with salt. The child would then be wrapped in swaddling bands or swaddling clothes, strips of fine linen to represent that the child would grow up to walk straight and tall.

KC Pillai, a converted Hindu who embraced Christianity, wrote extensively on Eastern customs and manners, known as Orientalisms, as revealed in the Bible. He point outs some of the distinctive features of the custom of swaddling and notes that when Israel strayed from the precepts of God and walked in idolatry, their abominable practices were described in this way in Ezekiel 16:1-4, indicating how far they had strayed from the precepts of Jehovah:

Ezekiel 16:1-4 (NKJV):

Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations, 3 and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God to Jerusalem: “Your birth and your nativity are from the land of Canaan; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. 4 As for your nativity, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed in water to cleanse you; you were not rubbed with salt nor wrapped in swaddling cloths.

Swaddling continued to be practiced beyond Biblical times, as a recent blog entry from needleprint.blogspot.com, commented on the elaborately embroidered bands made for young prince Federigo, Duke of Urbino, notable 15th Century figure from the Italian Renaissance, pictured here:

In addition, when the angels announced to the shepherds that the Savior had been born, they were given a sign that established the truth of their words:

And this will be a sign for you [by which you will recognize Him]: you will find a Baby wrapped in [swaddling] cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:12).

The timing of the arrival of the shepherds had to be precise since the swaddling clothes were left on the child for only a few minutes. The shepherds could not arrive on the scene before the swaddling had begun, nor could they arrive after the custom had been completed. They had to be in the right place at precisely the right time. As we so clearly see, the account of the birth of Jesus Christ abounds with signs, wonders, and miracles, one of which involves his being “wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.”

“He’s Here” sung by Eddie James offers a powerful, musical rendering of the account of the Savior who was “born of a virgin, wrapped in swaddling clothes. . .”

Birth of Jesus Christ: Good news

December 22, 2016

Luke 2--10

Three days before Christmas Day, the Verse of the Day for December 22, 2016 is the familiar passage describing the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, as recorded in Luke 2:8-11 where we add verses 12-14 in the Amplified Bible which gives a fuller account of what occurred:

Luke 2:8-14:

8And in that vicinity there were shepherds living [out under the open sky] in the field, watching [in shifts] over their flock by night.

9And behold, an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord flashed and shone all about them, and they were terribly frightened.

10But the angel said to them, Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people.

11For to you is born this day in the town of David a Savior, Who is Christ (the Messiah) the Lord!

12And this will be a sign for you [by which you will recognize Him]: you will find [after searching] a Baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.

13Then suddenly there appeared with the angel an army of the troops of heaven (a heavenly knighthood), praising God and saying,

14Glory to God in the highest [heaven], and on earth peace among men with whom He is well pleased, men of goodwill, of His favor].

Verse 10 indicates that the angel brought “good news” to the shepherds and ultimately to the entire world. That day was “A Good News Day,” poetically expressed in this way:

 

 Good News Day

 This is the day the LORD has made;

 we will rejoice and be glad in it.

 Psalm 118:24

 

It’s a good new day

no blues day

new shoes

no way to lose

What a good new day

 

 

It’s a great day

I can’t wait day

lift your voice

let’s rejoice

Good God, a good news day

 

 

It’s a payday

goin my way day

no nay–all yea

what you say

Such a good news day

 

 

It’s a live it up day

overflowin cup day

It’s a bright and bubbly

doubly lovely

Show-nuff good news day

 

 

This celebrated passage from Luke 2 has served as backdrop for countless nativity scenes that have been on display for decades across the country. Within the past few years, some citizens and advocacy groups demanding separation of church and state have objected to public displays depicting the birth of Jesus Christ. Despite the resistance, many communities continue to display nativity scenes on public property: from historic Belen, New Mexico, whose name means Bethlehem in Spanish to the Pennsylvania city with that same name and numerous places in between.  All across the nation Christians continue  to proclaim the “good news of the birth of Christ (the Messiah) the Lord.”

nativity-new

Located in downtown Columbus, Ohio, this nativity scene featuring life-size figures has attracted crowds for 85 years.

Contemporary Christian vocal group Avalon share some “Good News”:

 

 

 

As this year concludes and as 2017 unfolds, may every day be a “Good News Day” for all who read these words.

Wrapped in swaddling clothes

December 21, 2016

Luke 2--6-7

As we continue in reading Scriptures related to the birth of Jesus Christ, the Savior, we recognize that a series of awe-inspiring circumstances intersect in a miraculous manner. In one such account we find a more complete unfolding of the narrative in Luke 2:1-7. Taken from that passage, the Verse of the Day for December 21, 2016 is revised and re-posted here:

Luke 2:6-7 (AMP):

While they were there [in Bethlehem], the time came for her to give birth, and she gave birth to her Son, her firstborn; and she wrapped Him in [swaddling] cloths and laid Him in a manger, because there was no [private] room for them in the inn.

This concluding passage contains a reference to an ancient custom associated with birth, that is, Mary wrapped the child in “swaddling cloths” or as the King James Version renders “swaddling clothes” or “swaddling strips” in the New Living Translation. The practice was for a child, particularly a child of royal lineage, to be salted and swaddled. Shortly after birth, the child would be washed with water into which a pinch of salt had been added, symbolizing a covenant of salt, whereby the words spoken by the child would be words of truth, always seasoned with salt. The child would then be wrapped in swaddling bands or swaddling clothes, strips of fine linen to represent that the child would grow up to walk straight and tall.

Bishop KC Pillai, a converted Hindu who embraced Christianity, wrote extensively on Eastern customs and manners, known as Orientalisms, as revealed in the Bible. He point outs some of the distinctive features of the custom of swaddling and notes that when Israel strayed from the precepts of God and walked in idolatry, their abominable practices were described in this way in Ezekiel 16:1-4, indicating how far they had strayed from the precepts of Jehovah:

Ezekiel 16:1-4 (KJV):

Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,

Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations,

And say, thus saith the Lord God unto Jerusalem; Thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother a Hittite.

And as for thy nativity, in the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to supple thee; thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all.

Swaddling continued to be practiced beyond Biblical times, as a recent blog entry from needleprint.blogspot.com commented on the elaborately embroidered bands made for young prince Federigo, Duke of Urbino, notable 15th Century figure from the Italian Renaissance, pictured here:

swaddling clothes

In addition, when the angels announced to the shepherds that the Savior had been born, they were given a sign that established the truth of their words:

And this will be a sign for you [by which you will recognize Him]: you will find a Baby wrapped in [swaddling] cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:12 AMP).

The timing of the arrival of the shepherds had to be precise since the swaddling clothes were left on the child for only a few minutes. The shepherds could not arrive on the scene before the swaddling had begun, nor could they arrive after the custom had been completed. They had to be in the right place at the right time.  As we so clearly see, the account of the birth of Jesus Christ abounds with “signs, wonders, and miracles,” one of which involves his being “wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.”

“He’s Here” by Eddie James offers a powerful, musical rendering of the account of the Savior who was “born of a virgin, wrapped in swaddling clothes. . .”

Christ’s birth: a kind of first fruits

December 12, 2016

 

galatians-4-4-7

Revised and re-posted, the Verse of the Day for December 12, 2016 offers another passage related to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ taken from Galatians 4:4-5 in the Amplified Bible:

But when [in God’s plan] the proper time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the [regulations of the] Law, so that He might redeem and liberate those who were under the Law, that we [who believe] might be adopted as sons [as God’s children with all rights as fully grown members of a family]. But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

Apropos of the Christmas season, the passage also brings to mind the birth of Jesus Christ through whom we have the adoption as sons.  Adoption is a legal process whereby adopted sons had the same rights and privileges as sons who were naturally born into a family. Indeed, as legally adopted sons, believers have the right to our father’s inheritance and all that citizenship in His heavenly kingdom entails.

A similar expression is used in Romans 8:23-24 (NASB):

22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.

The reference to Jesus Christ as a glorious illustration of first fruits was the inspiration behind this poem with that title:

First fruits

In the exercise of His will He brought us forth

by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind

of first fruits among His creatures.

James 1:18 (NASB)

 

Ever transform, as You so fashion our visage

To be like Christ, the brightness of your glory.

In Your refiner’s fire melt us that we might be

Molded, our being cast in His express image:

As brand new boldface type printed upon the page,

As a double eagle minted in your treasure,

Stamped with the very essence of your character

To convey the awesome power of your message.

So saturate our lives: spirit, heart, soul, and mind,

Every fiber of my being, down to our pores;

Permeate us with Your presence that we might find

Our true calling as Christ’s faithful ambassadors.

More than mere vessel, vehicle, or instrument,

Like Christ, we are formed as first fruits of God’s intent.

Although as believers we recognize and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, we also remember His birth is only the first part of his five-fold purpose: he was born; he lived and he died; he was raised from the dead; he ascended to his Father; and he shall return.

We, first of all, realize that Jesus Christ was born to die, for we cannot deny that he was also crucified, that he died, and that he was buried, but we also proclaim that “He is risen, indeed.”  In addition, just as Christ ascended to the Father, we also proclaim: “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command. …And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive…will be caught up together with them…and so we will always be with the Lord.” All of this comes to mind with the birth of Jesus Christ.

One of the popular songs of the Christmas season is the 20th Century spiritual “Amen” with lyrics that tell not only of the birth of Jesus Christ but give an overview of his entire life in a most memorable way. Here is Larnell Harris offering his moving rendition:

Born, born, born in Bethlehem

December 13, 2014
A painting of Bethlehem in 1882 by Palenov

A painting of Bethlehem in 1882 by Palenov

Originally posted a year ago, today’s blog entry is modified and re-posted below:

In the Verse of the Day for December 13, 2014 we find another passage related to one of the prophecies that foretold the birth of Jesus Christ. When Herod encountered the wise men who came seeking the “King of the Jews,” his response is recorded in Matthew 2:4-6 (New Living Testament):

He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?” “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote: ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’”

The prophet referred to is Micah who had made this prophetic declaration regarding place where the Messiah would be born:

Micah 5:2–5 (NLT):

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past. The people of Israel will be abandoned to their enemies until the woman in labor gives birth… And he will stand to lead his flock with the LORD’s strength, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. Then his people will live there undisturbed, for he will be highly honored around the world. And he will be the source of peace…

Located about six miles southwest of Jerusalem, Bethlehem is not only the birthplace of Jesus Christ, but the city has a rich heritage as a place of importance in God’s plan for humanity. Genesis 35:19 (NLT) records the first mention of the town:

So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem)

In Hebrew the name means “house of bread.” Recall that the account of Naomi, Ruth and Boaz from the book of Ruth takes place in Bethlehem, where Naomi returns with Ruth after the famine in Moab. David, the King, the great-grandson of Ruth and Boaz was born and grew up in Bethlehem. Eventually the Judean town became known as the City of David, for it was there the prophet Samuel anointed him to be king over Israel (1 Samuel 16:1-13).

The account of the birth of Jesus Christ provides a confluence of circumstances that merge in Bethlehem. Mary and Joseph found themselves at that particular location when Caesar Augustus decreed that a census be taken. Every person in the entire Roman world had to go to his own town to register. Joseph, being a descendent of David, was required to go to Bethlehem to register with Mary, his wife who was pregnant at the time. Because of the overcrowded conditions due to the census, the inn where they sought refuge was full, and Mary gave birth to Savior of the World in the primitive conditions of a stable where the child was laid in a manger.

A number of the songs celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ mention Bethlehem, including “Children, Go Where I Send Thee,” with its resounding refrain: “One for the little biddy baby who was born, born, born in Bethlehem.”

Mandisa, contemporary gospel artist, offers her spirited rendition of this Christmas classic:

Perhaps the all-time favorite Christmas carol is “O, Little Town of Bethlehem,” offered here as a medley with “Away in a Manger” by Kari Jobe.

More prophecies: Of his kingdom there shall be no end

December 15, 2013

Luke_1-33

In light of the approaching celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the Verse of the Day for December 15, 2013, is another passage containing the fulfillment of words spoken by the prophets concerning the Messiah:

Luke 1:30-33:

And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

That the Messiah would be called by his name before he was even born was foretold in Isaiah 49:1:

 Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The Lord hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.

Likewise, the Lord would be called to God’s service from is spoken of in Psalm 22:10 (Amplified Bible):

I was cast upon You from my very birth; from my mother’s womb You have been my God.

Psalm 45:6 makes known that the throne of the Messiah would be everlasting:

Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever: the scepter of thy kingdom is a right scepter.

A similar declaration was also made in Daniel 7:13-14:

I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.

And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

In 1 Chronicles 17:11-12 we find a similar declaration regarding the throne of the everlasting kingdom of the Lord:

And it shall come to pass, when thy days be expired that thou must go to be with thy fathers, that I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom.

He shall build me a house, and I will establish his throne forever.

George Friedrich Handel’s “Messiah,” the renowned oratorio with texts from the King James Version of the Bible is among the best known and most frequently performed music compositions in the Western world, particularly during the Christmas season. The celebrated work ends with the Hallelujah Chorus which echoes the same declarations regarding the everlasting kingdom of the Messiah expressed in the Verse of the Day. Listen to a contemporary adaptation of the popular piece performed by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.

Bethlehem: Where the Savior was born

December 13, 2013
This painting by Polenov shows Bethlehem in 1882.

This painting by Polenov shows Bethlehem in 1882.

In the Verse of the Day for December 13, 2013 we find another passage related to one of the prophecies that foretold the birth of Jesus Christ. When Herod encountered the wise men who came seeking the “King of the Jews,” his response is recorded in Matthew 2:4-6:

And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

The prophet referred to is Micah who had made this prophetic declaration regarding place where the Messiah would be born:

Micah 5:2–5 (New Living Translation):

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past. The people of Israel will be abandoned to their enemies until the woman in labor gives birth… And he will stand to lead his flock with the LORD’s strength, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. Then his people will live there undisturbed, for he will be highly honored around the world. And he will be the source of peace…

Located about six miles southwest of Jerusalem, Bethlehem is not only the birthplace of Jesus Christ, but the city has a rich heritage as a place of importance in God’s plan for humanity. Genesis 35:19 (New Living Testament) records the first mention of the town:

So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem)

In Hebrew the name means “house of bread.” Recall that the account of Naomi, Ruth and Boaz from the book of Ruth takes place in Bethlehem, where Naomi returns with Ruth after the famine in Moab. David, the King, the great-grandson of Ruth and Boaz, was born and grew up in Bethlehem. Eventually the Judean town became known as the City of David, for it was there that the prophet Samuel anointed him to be king over Israel (1 Samuel 16:1-13).

The account of the birth of Jesus Christ provides a confluence of circumstances that merge in Bethlehem. Mary and Joseph found themselves at that particular location when Caesar Augustus decreed that a census be taken. Every person in the entire Roman world had to go to his own town to register. Joseph, being a descendent of David, was required to go to Bethlehem to register with Mary, his wife who was pregnant at the time. Because of the overcrowded conditions due to the census, the inn where they sought refuge was full, and Mary gave birth to Savior of the World in the primitive conditions of a stable where the child was laid in a manger.

A number of the songs celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ mention Bethlehem, including the song connected to the Verse of the Day for December 11, 2013 which shares a version of “Children, Go Where I Send Thee,” with its resounding refrain:  “One for the little biddy baby who was born, born, born in Bethlehem.” Perhaps the all-time favorite Christmas carol is “O, Little Town of Bethlehem,” offered here as a medley with “Away in a Manger” by Kari Jobe.