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December 27, 2020 7:00 am
There was a great contrast in the lives of the men who found Christmas lowly shepherds from nearby fields and important men of wealth and learning from a far-off land. Yet those very contrast served to make a significant points in the Christmas story all welcome to the Bible study, a radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically vast differences between the shepherds and the wise men prove the point that God is not a respecter of persons, and that he came to earth for all of us join Dr. Boyce as he studies the similarities and differences of the men who found Christmas and the significance of those differences in the lives of people from each succeeding age 1 of a tragedy as of the first Christmas visit so many people missed it is only one half of the story the other side of it concerns those who found it would just decide who found Christ shepherds responded to the message that was brought to them by the Angels in the fields of Bethlehem and the wisemen who journeyed from the east to Jerusalem after they had seen the messiahs star. These two groups.
They shepherds on the one hand, the wisemen, on the other become a model pattern for all who find or have found Christmas and that pastor any other succeeding age. Now it's interesting to contrast the shepherds and the wise man because it's hard to imagine a greater contrast. There's a contrast between that which was low on the social scale of the day and that which was obviously quite high on the social scale of the day shepherds were low O how they were low they were about the lowest thing you could be in the time it was better to be manual labor than to be shepherds shepherds were looked down on. They were malign they were despised.
It was assumed they were dishonest, their ability to walk off the property that wasn't their own with proverbial.
They were considered to be so low that they weren't even allowed to render testimony in a court of law. Yet the announcement came to them on the other hand, by contrast, you have these magi are wise men from the East. They were way up there near the top we noticed for example that when they came to Jerusalem to inquire where the child was to be born.
They didn't have any difficulty getting into Herod's palace and even gaining an audience with Herod just assume people like this were welcomed in the best of houses.
Send in the palaces of the world you have a contrast between that which is low in that which was high see the same kind of contrast in the financial area. Shepherds were poor among the poorest of the poor. The wisemen were rich, probably among the richest of the rich shepherds at a job at least.
But you are paid more if you did practically anything else we noticed that when they came to Ethel Hammond saw Jesus in the manger, they marveled, they went away and told everybody what they had seen, but were not told that they gave the child of the family any gifts many gifts to give wisemen well they had enough money to take a long journey from the east to Jerusalem and enough money apparently to provide themselves with the leisure time to do it and when they finally did find the child in the family. They presented gifts of gold incense and were going to contrast between these shepherds and wise men in the areas of education, on the one hand, the shepherds were uneducated and ignorant.
They were among the people of the land. The Ha'aretz who didn't even know their own language well enough to be able to read the Jewish Scriptures, nobody would've thought twice about shepherds. They knew nothing at all. On the other hand, the wisemen were wisemen wisdom was proverbial. These magi were instructed in all of the religious documents of the East End and the magic of healing arts in astrology and astronomy and was these after all, who, when they saw the messiahs star in the sky identified it and then knew how to interpret it. How to respond. Again, I think there's a contrast in terms of distance only in this case it works the other way here with the shepherds of the very proximity of Jerusalem and Bethlehem and here where the magi went to take a long, long journey to get there. You know exactly where they came from. The designation from the East.
As a general description but we do know that Herod inquired diligently at what time the star appeared and then later when the Magi had tricked him by returning to their own country by another routine had all the babies of Bethlehem were two years of age and under killed probably not suggest that the star had appeared between a year and two years previous. And if that's the case, assuming that the wisemen got themselves together and began to make their journey relatively quickly, were probably on the road for a period of many many months became a long long way the shepherds they were right there in the fields surrounding the historical town of Bethlehem.
I think this says I think it's as unintentionally the Christmas is for everyone and Christmas is for you, no matter who you made me Jesus did not call just for the rich of the world or for the poor of the world you can come just for the prominent of the world are those who have no status whatsoever in the world lies. He didn't come for the educated, alone, or the uneducated Ohlone didn't come for those who are close to Christianity alone are those who are far from Christianity alone became her everybody. He is not the savior of the rent for the poor or the wise are the foolish alone. He is the Savior of the world. That means that here at the very beginning of the Christmas story in the comparison of these two groups of people. We have the testimony that Christ's is for you in the gospel is for you, whoever you may be. I think however that when I look at the shepherds and the wise man and I put them together. I'm impressed more with the ways in which there like I am with the ways in which their different it's true.
They were different in all those ways and that makes a perfectly valid point. But in terms of their spiritual experience. They went through exactly the same thing may suggest the steps of that experience.
First step is that they received an announcement of Christ's birth is clearest in the case of the shepherds, the shepherds were in the fields. The angel of the Lord appeared to them God's glory shown about them.
The night sky, they were terrified, and an angel appeared and gave this message. Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you is Christ the Lord then was a great company of angels appeared along with the angel that spoken these praise God saying, glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.
I was a very striking and the most magnificent message. I wonder if the announcement was made.
The wisemen in terms that they would understand was any less magnificent from their point of view. I didn't see the glory of God are angels. They didn't hear a message spoken by the angelic visitors, but they saw star and they were in the business of scouting the heavens and interpreting the stars, God spoke to them on a level that they could understand and they like shepherds responded to what God given this is really amazing when you think of it in terms of the history of the.
It been a long long time in the history of Israel before any word been received from God all years before, there had been signs years before there did miracles. There were prophets who came to speak the word of God to God's people, but that was centuries earlier.
Malachi was the last of the prophets prophesied 400 years before the birth of Christ. During all those centuries. For centuries the people waited for the birth of the Messiah. No word the heavens were silent. Then suddenly the heavens opened and the angels appear the voice of the Angels is heard pointing to Christ and singing glory to God in the highest and the star appears in the distant country and leads the wisemen. What a glorious announcement say I wish we could have announcement like that when the be wonderful if the heavens would open than the Angels could be seen in the heavenly choirs of the heart rejoicing and what God is done well, you know the Bible doesn't look at it that way. The Bible says that we have the Scriptures and the Scriptures are the more certain word even than the state send to use the imagery of the text they are to us. As Peter says, like a light shining in a dark place. Our world is just as dark as the world of the ancient Magi but are star are light light of the word of God is brighter even when there's an Peter talks about it in that second letter which I just quoted Peter is contrasting his experience as an apostle lived during the lifetime of Christ and saw his transfigure glory on the mount of transformation. He's comparing that experience with that all Christian people who since that time have the word of God and he says it's true we were eyewitnesses of his Majesty, it's true, we did stand on the holy mountain and see Jesus in the splendor of his kingdom and we heard the voice from heaven saying this is my beloved son in whom I am well please listen to him as Peter. We have a more certain word. We have the Scriptures we had the word of God written which is to us as a light shining in a dark place you heard that announcement if you read the Scriptures.
Have you come face-to-face with the person in the work of Jesus Christ. That's your side. That's the announcement which God gives to you and all people in this day the second experience that the shepherds and the wise men had in common.
In the second stage, if you well in their spiritual pilgrimage is that they obeyed God summons can imagine a situation where the announcement would be heard on the call would be given but disobedience would follow. I think this I reflect upon their response of that movie that appeared some years ago.
The title close encounters of the third kind is about a visit to earth, spaceship from another culture, and other planets are other universe and as the movie built towards its climax. A number of warnings were given of the coming of the spaceship. They were in the nature of invitation's people were more or less invited to come. The special event in the plot movie such as there was was the story of these people trying to get there to the appointed place of the right time. Well, we would hardly imagine if a invitation such as that was given to us, we would be negligent of it yet. Here, in the case of the shepherds in the wisemen and in a certain way to us as well. There is an invitation to an even greater encounter because now it's not a question of alien people, creatures from whatever glorious world somehow visiting earth, but this is the story of the creator God himself coming to earth, and the person of his son when invitation was given. The shepherds in the wisemen. The latter event they obeyed God summons instantly. We can imagine the wisemen saying well you know we been studying the stars for a long time and it does appear to us as if that star is the start of the Messiah means that this one. The world has been waiting for is, we ought to go but you know astrology is not an exact science. There are different kinds of interpretations given.
We could be wrong after all Jerusalem is far away. Probably other people will go. Maybe we should just play it safe and stay home or we can imagine the shepherds saying all that's a glorious thing but is far too glorious for us. Here's the angels of God announcing the birth of the King was the son of God, but the shepherds were not dressed for the occasion.
They never welcome us, even if the birth does take place in a stable recital take care of the sheep. This is our chief responsibility. We know that isn't the way they responded. This is a matter of priorities. You see all those other things are perfectly valid concerns, but this is the birth of the son of God. This is the Savior. This is the very point to what the history of the world is let up all the history of the world is to flow from this point, from here on. His men didn't bandy around with secondary thoughts. They said it, we're invited to this event. We are going and they responded to the summons you responded to God some responded to the invitation of the Lord Jesus Christ. He said come on the me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, you will find rest to your soul so you, that's the message of Christmas is 1/3 thing I notice not only did they have a God summons actually found the Savior we can imagine a situation where a command would be given in the bay but somehow it just wouldn't issue and what it was supposed to achieve.
Maybe the person who gave the command was joking. I was trying to fool you obeyed me, but there wasn't anything there like a treasure hunt with no treasure at the end we can imagine people somehow going astray are situations changing. This wasn't the case here were these men who heard the announcements and obeyed the summons and when they obey.
They actually found Jesus Christ. God gives that invitation today. It's not to fool with a spiritual experience of men and women. It's to get you to find Jesus. That's the goal that's the point of it all and if you miss that mist all of you found Jesus. Do you know him to be your Lord and your Savior know that one who was born on that first Christmas day so long ago. You know that that one grew up to teach and to die for the sin of the world to rise again power and the dead to be your Lord and the Lord of the church say how my going to learn that you were not from the Bible you find that in Scripture. That's the only place that's where God speaks, that's where Jesus is to be found.
After reading these accounts and as you read them you have to say you're not yet a Christian or God.
I'm not yet a Christian that I may never be what I'm not even sure these things are not even absolutely sure that you exist or if you exist if you hear me I'm serious about this. I am seeking and if you exist in this is your book. Jesus is the Savior, then you certainly should be able to teach me that bring me to a conviction that these things are so. As I read this word that's what I do have happened and I promise that if that's true in if you work that way in my life. Not only will I become a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ I'll become his disciple and I'll follow in my life that many years ago now man heard Ruben a touring rate Bible teacher lecture of another generation. Give a challenge like that came up to Tori afterwards and he said although I've done all those things you talk about and it just to the elders nothing to in my case is very peculiar and Tori said let's be definite about this and so eroded. Now, I promise.
If I discover that the message about Jesus Christ is true to believe on him as my Savior and the following is his disciple to my life.
Sandy said would you do that and said oh yes, of course, I would be decided into that.
Yes I would. And then Dora began to spell out how it should be done through the reading of the Scripture through prayer. All of those things. The man said well you know I'll do it, but there's nothing to it. My case was very peculiar. Two weeks later they met again and the man said you know this is something to that.
I began reading the Bible and as I did, I began to pray along the lines that you had told me to pray and it seems like since that time I just been swept along by the Niagara River and the first thing you know I'm going to become a shouting Methodist Tori shouted for the occasion and said, praise the Lord. They parted two weeks later the man came back and become a Christian is that I can understand now I ever believe anything else is why God works that you receive the announcement of the angels are challenged to obey the summons if you obey the summons the reading of the word of God to find that one was the Savior as one last point after they had found it wasn't the end they found and they worshiped him was a heart response in the changed attitude of life.
It's very clear the case of the wise man said coming into the house, I saw Mary and Joseph the baby and they fell down and worship him is true. Also, I believe, in the case of the shepherd so it doesn't say that explicitly they worship God obviously were told that at the end of the story because they returned, glorifying and praising God. We to believe that they didn't worship the child who had been identified as the son of God and who was described to them as the Lord himself. Of course they did. Having found Savior. They worshiped him was always that way men and women find Christ, they worship him. Their lives are different. As a result. This is how we know that they found him. If there's no worship there is no discovery if there is a discovery there is worship because the one discovered is the Lord God incarnate some time ago I got to know Rev. Joseph Tonn who is an exiled Baptist pastor from Romania. He carried on a very effective ministry in Romania for many years and was finally expelled from the country by the communist authorities because it was so effective now. He writes from this country. He tries to encourage work in Romania and those who labor their fee is written recently about a Romanian Christmas how it was always celebrated in his country years, which he was growing up. All of the cities were more or less independent and they had their own unique celebrations. Generally, what they did was this they would have a big feast Christmas day every family would have its pagan the pig would be slaughtered for that occasion and all of the goodies would be prepared. And then on the day before Christmas early in the morning the caroling would start little children to go out first of all, they go around the house.
The house thinking as best they could.
They carried sacks with them on their backs and they collects not some little bits of fruit cake somewhat the way in which children collect candy in our country on Halloween later in the day the teenagers would go out the boys with four magnificent choirs they sing from house to house, and as they did, they put on the pageants which they did act out religions and some of the biblical stories leaving the older folks would go sometimes late at night, the oldest people would be going from house to house singing about Christ worshiping him. Tonn says in those days, even though many of the families of that time wouldn't of been speaking to each other.
All these hostilities were laid aside in the next day. On Christmas Day everybody. Everybody in the village would be in the churches worshiping together.
Then came Congress under communism Christmas East to be a holiday work takes place in communist lands on Christmas justice on any other day, and many of the things that had been practiced were not only banned but eventually began to fade away even in the thinking of the people not in the lives of the Christians. That's the point. Don explains how in spite of the difficulties every evangelical church in Romania. Even to this day starts early in the morning before the workday has a religious service commemorating the birth of Christ and has another when that evening after the birth of Christ. Does that not only on the 25th Christmas Day itself on the 26th. The next day which they call the second day of Christmas. You just can keep down the worship of those who have really found Christ and those whether they were shepherds in their day of the wise man are believers down through all the intervening ages, lower those were worshiping today even in communist lands. Those who know Christ. Worship him is our privilege to worship him as well. That's the invitation of Christmas common worship come and worship.
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Note doctrine is not a popular topic in the modern church. The church today is largely consumer with the ideas of love and acceptance in an emphasis on self. In contrast, Paul's letters to his spiritual son Timothy are all about doctrine, because sound doctrine is absolute truth. Join Dr. James Boyce next time of the Bible study hours as he begins a Bible teaching series entitled the greatest game that's next time one Bible study preparing you to think and act