Posts Tagged ‘unfailing love’


Are you ready to Give up and Grab Hold? The plow is sitting out in the field. It needs someone to grab hold and help steer. God provides the power, but He needs faithful disciples to grab hold. The decision to become a Disciple of Jesus Christ is not a decision you make lightly. Nor is it a decision you can forget about and go on your merry way. David had made a decision to follow God, follow so closely that God’s Heart would become David’s heart. God never let David forget that decision. God used test after test to reveal those things in David’s heart and life that were getting in the way of his Discipleship decision. If you make such a decision, God will do the same to you.

God seeks to accomplish three things in the life of a Disciple. Those three things are revealed in Jer 9:24. They are “hesed, mishpat and tsedaqah”. He delights in these three things. These three things are His “good pleasure.”  As Paul wrote: “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.(Phil 2:12b-13). If a disciple is to understand anything about God, it is that He will constantly be working in your life to accomplish these three things, for they are His “good pleasure.” If we are to boast in anything, it is only that we know and understand God, that He delights in these three things.

God used every test that David faced to grow and develop these three things in his life. These three things are the very foundation of God’s Kingdom here on Earth, of Jesus’ Kingdom during the millennium, of the Kingdom that the Church has been charged to usher into this world.

You may doubt the significance of these three things. I hope not. Ever since the Holy Spirit revealed this to me, the Word of God has shouted at me with LIFE! 40 years I have been in the Word, and I just last year saw this. I don’t find anyone teaching this on the internet or in writings. I believe it is truth God wants for our age.

David revealed their importance in Psalm 106.

Psalm 106:1-5 “Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His loving-kindness is everlasting. Who can speak of the mighty deeds of the LORD, Or can show forth all His praise? How blessed are those who keep justice, Who practice righteousness at all times! Remember me, O LORD, in Your favor toward Your people; Visit me with Your salvation, That I may see the prosperity of Your chosen ones, That I may rejoice in the gladness of Your nation, That I may glory with Your inheritance.”

A. They are the Grounds for Praise and Thanksgiving!

1.  Give thanks for His ‘hesed’ (loving-kindness, unfailing love)– it is everlasting
    • His hesed is the basis of His mighty deeds and bountiful praise. We do nothing to earn it or deserve it.
    • Justice is something we must covet, guard, desire, submit to. It is not of us but of God.
    • Requires commitment of heart, soul and strength. 24/7 diligence.
2.  Keep mishpat (Justice) and you will enjoy blessing
3.  Practice (accomplish) tsedaqah (Righteousness) at all times

B. They are the Grounds for Favor and Salvation!

God’s Steadfast Love (hesed), Justice (mishpat) and Righteousness (tsedaqah), when embraced and exercised, will empower disciples to:

1.  See the prosperity (well-being) of the chosen (Result of hesed changing our Heart’s Desire)
2.  Joy in the gladness of Your Nation (Result of mishpat bringing God’s design into our House and Dependants)
3.  Glory with Your Inheritance (Result of the Victory of Righteousness that produces the Hope of a Godly inheritance)

The rest of Psalms 106 is a revelation of what happens when we resist hesed, mishpat and tsedaqah.

Psalm 106:6-48 We have sinned like our fathers, We have committed iniquity, we have behaved wickedly. Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders; They did not remember Your abundant kindnesses, But rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea. Nevertheless He saved them for the sake of His name, That He might make His power known.

Psalm 106:8 Nevertheless he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known.

God saved them for the sake of His Name.Yet look at how they resisted Him:

  • They quickly forgot His works; They did not wait for His counsel, But craved intensely in the wilderness, And tempted God in the desert.
  • Thus they exchanged their glory For the image of an ox that eats grass.
  • They forgot God their Savior, Who had done great things in Egypt, Wonders in the land of Ham And awesome things by the Red Sea.
  • Then they despised the pleasant land; They did not believe in His word, But grumbled in their tents; They did not listen to the voice of the LORD.
  • Therefore He swore to them That He would cast them down in the wilderness, And that He would cast their seed among the nations And scatter them in the lands.
  • They joined themselves also to Baal-peor, And ate sacrifices offered to the dead. Thus they provoked Him to anger with their deeds, And the plague broke out among them.
  • They also provoked Him to wrath at the waters of Meribah, So that it went hard with Moses on their account; Because they were rebellious against His Spirit, He spoke rashly with his lips.
  • They did not destroy the peoples, As the LORD commanded them, But they mingled with the nations And learned their practices, And served their idols, Which became a snare to them.
  • They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons, And shed innocent blood, The blood of their sons and their daughters, Whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; And the land was polluted with the blood.
  • Thus they became unclean in their practices, And played the harlot in their deeds.
  • Many times He would deliver them; They, however, were rebellious in their counsel, And so sank down in their iniquity.

Nevertheless He looked upon their distress When He heard their cry; And He remembered His covenant for their sake, And relented according to the greatness of His loving-kindness.

Even in Judgment He Loved them because of His Name! Discipleship is simply the following of God’s Name with all our heart, soul and strength!

He also made them objects of compassion In the presence of all their captors. Save us, O LORD our God, And gather us from among the nations, To give thanks to Your holy name And glory in Your praise. Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, From everlasting even to everlasting. And let all the people say, “Amen.” Praise the LORD!

The Journey through the Wilderness provides us everything we need to learn about what will prevent us from becoming Disciple’s of Jesus Christ. The Hebrew’s being led by Moses constantly resisted God, and so refused to advance in hesed, mishpat and tsedaqah. 

But before we look at their example, we must see what God did when David humbled himself and cried out to God amidst the ashes of Ziklag…

David Hasaq’d himself in Jehovah Elohim

Last week we left David “hasaq(ing)” himself in Yahweh Elohim. Instead of becoming angry at God because of what had happened, David humbled himself, confessed his sins, and reached up to God, counting on His hesed, committing himself to following His justice and claiming His righteousness!

1 Samuel 30:7

David then called for the Priest, Abiathar, to enquire of the Lord with the Ephod. God gae instruction to pursue the raiders, and God assured David he would overtake them and rescue all of their families. God then led them to find an Egyptian slave who had been left behind due to a divinely appointed sickness. He gave David the intel they needed. They pursued and found the Amelikites scattered and revelling in their good fortune. They were easily defeated by David and his men. And as God had promised, nothing was lost, not even one toe nail of their families and possessions. In fact there was great spoil taken over and above what they had lost.

David and his men, their wives and children returned to Ziklag, and even divided things evenly, even with the men who had been too discouraged to pursue. (This represents a principle of Victory-it benefits everyone, especially those disciples who are weak with discouragement, or are simply feeding or working in the nursery, teaching the kids) Following the Lord in victory brings strength and bounty to all.

I want us to realize (as we’ll see), that with God, Victory results in Righteousness. Righteousness results in Victory. When even a few stand in Righteousness, the whole is benefited. When no one stands in Righteousness, the whole suffers terribly. However, only one kind of Righteousness is truly Victory. That is the Righteousness that comes from God alone. Righteousness which is by Faith alone. There is no room for self-righteousness or self-effort.

David also shared the Victory with all those who had strengthened him along the way.

1 Samuel 30:26-31 Now when David came to Ziklag, he sent some of the spoil to the elders of Judah, to his friends, …and to all the places where David himself and his men were accustomed to go… saying, “Behold, a gift for you from the spoil of the enemies of the LORD “

David was back and battling against the enemies of the Lord! He wanted Judah to know it, that they could count on him when it came to battles against the enemies of the Lord. David was also showing his thankfulness to God and the people who had been a source of encouragement all those years.

When we are zealous for the Lord, we will be zealous in our gratitude for those who encourage us.

Unto the elders of Judah—These were the persons among whom he sojourned during his exile, and who had given him shelter and protection. Gratitude required these presents.[1]

1 Samuel 31

Meanwhile, a real battle was raging on Mt Gilboa, between the forces of Saul and the Philistines. The Philistines prevailed. Saul’s sons, including Jonathon, were killed. Saul was mortally wounded, and fearing what the Philistines would do to his body, fell on his own sword after his armor bearer refused. When the Israelites saw their King dead, they knew the battle was lost, and fled. The Philistines took over the area, and

The Philistines, finding Saul and his three sons among the slain, strip them of their armor, which they put in the house of Ashtoreth, cut off their heads, send the news to all the houses of their idols, and fasten the bodies of Saul and his three sons to the walls of Beth-shan, vv. 8-10. Valiant men of Jabesh-gilead go by night, and take away the bodies; burn them at Jabesh; bury their bones under a tamarisk tree; and fast seven days, vv. 11-13.[2]

2 Samuel 1

An Amalekite comes to David, and informs him that the Philistines had routed the Israelites; and that Saul and his sons were slain, vv. 1-4. And pretends that he himself had despatched Saul, finding him ready to fall alive into the hands of the Philistines, and had brought his crown and bracelets to David, vv. 5-10. David and his men mourn for Saul and his sons, vv. 11, 12. He orders the Amalekite, who professed that he had killed Saul, to be slain, vv. 13-16. David’s funeral song for Saul and Jonathan, vv. 17-27.[3] Look how David honored Saul and Jonathan:

2 Samuel 1:23-27 “Saul and Jonathan, beloved and pleasant in their life, And in their death they were not parted; They were swifter than eagles, They were stronger than lions. “O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, Who clothed you luxuriously in scarlet, Who put ornaments of gold on your apparel. “How have the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! Jonathan is slain on your high places. “I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; You have been very pleasant to me. Your love to me was more wonderful Than the love of women. “How have the mighty fallen, And the weapons of war perished!”

Here is David, expressing a heart that holds no bitterness for the way he had been treated. Here is a grateful heart, a heart that is submissive to God, and so he can praise King Saul with an upright heart. God’s hesed was certainly at work in David’s heart!

2 Samuel 2

David, by the direction of God, goes up to Hebron, and is there anointed king over the house of Judah, vv. 1-4. He congratulates the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead on their kindness in rescuing the bodies of Saul and his sons from the Philistines, vv. 5-7. Abner anoints Ish-bosheth, Saul’s son, king over Gilead, the Ashurites, Jezreel, Ephraim, Benjamin, and all Israel; over whom he reigned two years, vv. 8-10. David reigns over Judah, in Hebron, seven years and six months, v. 11. Account of a battle between Abner, captain of the Israelites, and Joab, captain of the men of Judah; in which the former are routed with the loss of three hundred and sixty men: but Asahel, the brother of Joab, is killed by Abner, vv. 12-32.[4]

After 10 years of being on the run, going through every test a disciple could imagine, David is ready to reign as King. The Kingdom is still divided. Abner has put one of Saul’s sons as King over the Northern tribes. But for the next 7 years, Saul’s house will decline, while David’s will increase.

Why did David Succeed where Saul Failed?

It began as a young shepherd who fell in love with God and His Law. As he meditated on the Law, God brought all these wonderful insights into his life. He observed and learned the Ways of God.  The Law became the Psalms. The statutes became testimonies of God’s Word in David’s life! David saw the importance of hesed, mishpat and tsedaqah!

Psalm 19:7-11 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward.

David’s very life became a testimony to God Law and the mishpat that it contains. “The mishpat of the Lord is true and righteous, more to be desired than honey, or even fine Gold. In keeping His mishpat there is great reward,” and Victory!

Have you made the decision to follow Jesus Christ as His Disciple?

I am not talking about your decision to ask Him into your heart. I am talking about your decision to abandon everything this world offers, and cling totally to Jesus Christ.

  • NASB Luke 14:33 So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.
  • NLT Luke 14:33 So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.
  • ESV Luke 14:33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

You say “I need to hang on to my possessions to use them for the Lord. After all, who is going to provide clothes for the naked, food for the hungry and water for the thirsty?”

  • Luke 9:62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

If that is the reason you place such great store on your possessions, you are sadly mistaken. God knows the motives of your heart. He sees the greed, the lack of trust that is revealed by what you cling to. Whatever you do for the Lord, the test will be “did you do it because you are a disciple, or did you do it because you feel guilty?, or you feel it helps you, or it makes you feel good?” If you do anything for the Lord while clinging to your possessions, you have already lost your reward. The only way to keep the reward of Jesus Christ is to be a Disciple, and serve because He is Lord!

  • Matthew 10:42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”

That was the reason He told that group of ‘do-gooders’ to “depart, I never knew you!” They were doing good, they were saying “Jesus things”, but they had never given themselves completely to Him.

Are You Ready To Give Up and Grab Hold?

Understand the Lessons of the Tabernacle and the Wilderness Journey:

A. God’s Hesed is in the Centrality of the Ark

1.  Ark of the Covenant.-Law was added as a witness against them.

Deuteronomy 31:26 Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee.

2.  Covered with the golden lid- kappōret – the mercy-seat.

Exodus 25:21-22 And you shall put the mercy-seat on the top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I shall give you. There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy-seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel.

The Ark was the testimony of God’s Covenant with His people, symbolic of His protection, provision, and blessing. Through the mercy-seat God could have a personal relationship with sinful man. It symbolized His unfailing love to a very fallible and failed man.

God made a covenant with His people. He was building a Nation, centered around the theme of REDEMPTION, bringing them into a Promised land, a land of milk and honey, a land where He would be their God, their King, their protector, and provider. It represented a victorious land, a land where the enemies of the Lord would be vanquished. Those enemies represented the flesh, sin and Satan.

B. God’s Mishpat is in the Centrality of the Tabernacle

1.  Wherever the Hebrews would go, God’s Justice was to reign as the Law of the land.
    • His justice would guide everything
    • Tent of Meeting became the Tabernacle located in the very heart of the Hebrews.
2.  Justice was centered around the Word and Worship of God.
    • Justice is not Political but Moral.
    • Morality comes through a change within, not from without. True Morality is not legislated.
3. The Tabernacle represented the mishpat of God. It was in the center of the 12 tribes.

As the Lord lays out in detail his design for the Tabernacle, he says, “Set up this Tabernacle according to the pattern you were shown on the mountain” (26:30). The word translated here as “pattern” is, in Hebrew, mishpat, which ordinarily means “justice” or “ordinance.” The unusual use of mishpat in this verse underscores the authority of God’s design. Moses and the Israelites were to be guided by the divine pattern when they set up the Tabernacle[5].

4.  The Temple was designed and built according to the “mishpat” of God.

1 Kings 6:38 And in the eleventh year, in the month Bul, which is the eighth month, was the house finished throughout all the parts thereof, and according to all the fashion of it. So was he seven years in building it.

 The high priest wore a pouch called the breast piece of justice, containing the Urim and Thummim by which decisions were obtained from the Lord (Ex. 28:30). Doing what was right and just in the Lord’s eyes was far more important than presenting sacrifices to Him (Gen. 18:19; Prov. 21:3, 15).[6]

  • He executes justice [mishpat] for the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, he lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves those who live justly. The LORD watches over the immigrant and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. Psalm 146:7–9
  • The LORD your God . . . defends the cause [mishpat]of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the immigrant, giving him food and clothing. Deuteronomy 10:17–18
  • Speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Proverbs 31:8

C.  God’s Righteousness is Seen in His Victories!

Deuteronomy 6:24-25 And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us.’

God promised His people Victory in everything they did, if they followed His mishpat. He termed this victory “Blessing” He assured them that Blessings would pursue them, the image being of a linebacker pursuing the quarterback, only in a good way.

1.  Righteousness is Victory from the Lord, from His Strength

The oldest meaning of tsedaqah, as judged by its use in the Song of Deborah (Judges 5:1-31), appears to be ‘victory’.

Judges 5:11 To the sound of musicians at the watering places, there they repeat the righteous triumphs of the LORD, the righteous triumphs of his villagers in Israel. “Then down to the gates marched the people of the LORD.

1 Samuel 12:7 Now therefore stand still, that I may reason with you before the LORD of all the righteous acts of the LORD, which he did to you and to your fathers.

When God and Israel mutually fulfill their covenant obligations to each other, a state of righteousness can be said to exist – that is, things are saddiq, ‘as they should be’.

2. Israel’s triumphant victories over her enemies were seen as proofs of the sidqot ’adonay (Victories of God)

In other words, God has bound himself by covenant to ‘make things right’ for his people, and to do so by acting unilaterally on their behalf. It’s true, the “range of meaning” of the word tsedaqah incorporates other meanings, but this meaning is particularly stressed in the Old Testament. .[7]

3.  Righteousness was Promised in Jesus Christ.

Jeremiah 23:5 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute mishpat and tsedaqah in the earth.

The strongly soteriological overtones of the term tsedaqah can be illustrated from a number of passages in which ‘righteousness’ and ‘salvation’ are practically equated, particularly in many passages within Isaiah:

I will bring my tsedaqah near, it is not far away, And my salvation will not be delayed. (Isaiah 46:13)

How Then Should We Pray?

Isaiah 5:7 For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment (mishpāṭ), but behold oppression (miśpāḥ), for righteousness (ṣedāqâ), but behold a cry (seʾāqâ)[8]

We should be as the widow woman who came everyday to the unjust judge. She cried out for JUSTICE! In Isaiah 5, God looks for justice (mishpat) but sees only mispah or oppression. God looked for righteousness (tsedaqah) but found people crying (tseaqa). It is a play on words, for God sees the opposite of what He desires on earth. The word for “cry” is the same word in Genesis 19:13, which depicts the outcry against the sin of Sodom against the Lord. God is searching our country, hoping to find justice and righteousness, but instead He hears the cry of the oppressed and the sinful.

Genesis 19:13 For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it.”

What Should be our Response to Jesus’ plea for Disciples?

We should literally transfer ownership of everything we own, every dream we have, every hope in our heart, and lay it all at the foot of Jesus Christ. He is Lord, and we should hold nothing back. We should then cry out to Him to see Justice and Righteousness here on earth as it is in heaven! We must confess our fleshly attitudes, our bitterness, our temporal values and our moral impurity. We must get rid of every ‘besetting’ sin or habit or item that will hinder us from pursuing hesed, mishpat and tsedaqah!

Lift up the Name of God in your Life, You House and your World!

Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

When we resist the Grace of God, we hinder God’s hesed, mishpat and tsedaqah from working in our lives. When we resist the Grace of God, we are being like the Jews in the wilderness, who were overcome in the wilderness, because they failed to believe God’s Word, failed to trust completely in God, and failed to obey God. They failed the Discipleship Test. The following chart illustrates how the Father of Lies works through our stubbornness and sinful resistance of God. Satan even has counterfeit hesed, mishpat & tsedaqah, based upon man’s wisdom and man’s self-effort. Satan does not want us to Honor the Name of God!

Our only decision should be to join the battle of the Name of the Lord! He needs our full and undivided support! He needs us to join Him in fighting the Father of Lies. He needs warrior who are Mighty in Spirit, exercising hesed, mishpat and tsedaqah!


[1] Adam Clarke, A Commentary and Critical Notes, (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1826), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “1 Samuel 30”.

[2] Adam Clarke, A Commentary and Critical Notes, (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1826), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “1 Samuel 31”.

[3] Adam Clarke, A Commentary and Critical Notes, (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1826), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “The Second Book of Samuel”.

[4] Adam Clarke, A Commentary and Critical Notes, (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1826), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “2 Samuel 2”.

[6] Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 687.

[8] James Strong, Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary, (Austin, TX: WORDsearch Corp., 2007), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “6818”.

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My dad was not always a godly man. It wasn’t until his early 30’s that he started going to church. My mom was the ‘religious’ one. Even when we switched churches when I was 14, his religion was more of a Sunday thing. Our Christmases were as secular as the next door heathen families.

When I was planning for college, Dad seemed to change. He wasn’t religious anymore. God wasn’t a Sunday thing anymore. All of a sudden, it was Jesus Christ. All of a sudden everything he did was all about Jesus. Jesus owned everything he had. Christmas was about Jesus Christ. I liked it, because Jesus had become real to me as well. I was going off to Bible College. It was as I was getting ready to leave that he came to me and with tears in his eyes (my Dad never cried) he said that God was giving him a second chance. In fact that became one of my Dad’s favorite sayings, that God is the God of second chances. Anyway, he asked me to forgive him for not being a good father to me.

Holding Benjamin

Just 3 ½  years after that, I fould myself with a one month old baby boy, back at home celebrating Christmas with my family and my 18 year old wife, Lydia.

That Christmas morning was overwhelming, as my Dad read the Christmas story by candlelight. Here I was, a new daddy, holding my baby boy as my Dad read the story of Mary and Joseph becoming new parents. So let’s join my Dad as he and Mom listen in as I now read the Christmas story with you.

Luke 2:1-38 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Most people stop the Christmas Story here, but Dad kept on reading…

And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”

As Dad read the part of Simeon holding the baby Jesus and proclaiming Jesus is the light of revelation to the Gentiles, I understand that Jesus had revealed that light to my Dad, and now my Dad wanted me to see that light, so that I could be a good father to my son, Benjamin. The greatest gift I ever received from my Dad is the light of the reality of Jesus Christ. That light burns in my heart and life today 37 years later, and it burns in the heart and life of the son I held in my arms that morning.

Did I make mistakes? Too many to count! Has the light always burnt brightly in my life? No! But the Light was always there drawing me into His presence. Is my family perfect? No, but the Light of Christ is at work in my family, and I pray He is at work in yours.

I only remember a few of the gifts my parents gave me. But I will always remember the gift my Dad gave me that Christmas, the Light of Christ from his life to mine, to guide me as I fathered my children. He had passed that light to me, and now I am passing it on to my children and grandchildren.

When the magi visited the infant Jesus, they presented gifts to Him, treasures of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The amazing thing about those gifts, is that this morning, Jesus is re-giving them to you and me. That’s right, the greatest gifts you will ever receive at Christmas, are not sitting under a tree, but they are here, in this Bible and they come from Jesus Christ.

Matthew 2:10-12 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

I know in American culture it is customary for us to give gifts to the one whose birthday we are celebrating. But in may cultures (Asian, Burmese), if it is your birthday, it is a day for you to serve or buy a meal or give gifts. The more you serve and give the better your next year will be. Jesus is going to have a great year next year, because He is giving us some amazing gifts.

Let’s open OUR presents from Jesus this morning.

Gold

The first gift that Jesus gives us is gold, pure gold. Pure Gold represents the pure unfailing Love that Jesus loves us with. Gold is a good representative if Christ’s Love, because Gold is almost impossible to destroy. It is impervious to most acids. Gold is very dense and heavy, a massively solid material. Just a 3 x 3 cube would weigh over 36000 pounds. Yet as solid and dense as Gold is, it can be stretched and used to cover anything. It can be beat on thousands of times until it is microscopicly thin, yet it is still Gold. Paul prayed that we would know the height and depth and length and breadth of the Love of Christ. His love is so solid that it can dash any problem, so yielding that it can take any thing we can throw at it, so flexible that it can cover any sin we could ever commit. His love is never failing.

This Gold was in the Garden of Eden, in the land of Havilah, and the river Pishon flowed around it. Pishon means spreading, and is a picture of the Holy Spirit taking the Love of God and spreading it throughout the world.

Havila means stretch of sand. Abram in Genesis 13:2 was described as being rich in gold.  God promised him a house with descendants as numerous as the grains of sand. Certainly the unfailing love of God extended to every descendant of Abraham. The Love of Christ knows no limits. It knows no boundaries. The love of Christ seeks every sinner, no matter how great their sins. The love of Christ, symbolized by the gold, comes from the ‘hesed’ of God, the mercy of God. When God instructed Moses in how to build the Tabernacle, as God’s House on the earth, he told him to construct the innermost room covered in Gold. This room, the Holy of Holies, is where the High Priest would offer the sacrifice as atonement for the sins of all of the Jews. The ark was covered in gold, which formed the “mercy Seat” Here the offering would be presented before Holy God in utter darkness. Everything in the room was covered in gold, picturing the mercy and love of God. God would see the sacrifice, and His love and mercy would flow upon the Jewish people. The reason His love and merices could flow is because God knew one day, His only begotten Son would hang upon the cursed cross on Mt Golgotha, and there, Jesus would demonstrate His unfailing love for all the sinners of the race of Adam, as He would become their sacrifice, and take upon Himself all their ghastly and dastardly sins. There on Mt Golgotha, the golden love of God was poured out upon the sands of mankind, as His Son satisfied the Holy demands of God’s Eternal Law!

The veil before the Holy of Holies was forever rent in to, from top to bottom, showing the world that God’s unfailing love was now upon the world, because of the forever sacrifice of His Son.

God’s Holy Spirit calls whosoever will to come to the Cross of Salvation, and humble yourself before this unfailing Love, pictured by the purest of Gold! Only at the cross can you receive this gift of forgiveness, right standing and Hope of eternal Life in Jesus Christ.

The spirit of Babylon has corrupted this gold. Indeed, many choose the gold itself instead of the love and forgiveness it represents. One day, Babylon will fall…Jesus Christ who reigns in Heaven above, is clothed in a golden sash across His heart. He will judge the world on the basis of His pure Love. Anyone not found in His heart, anyone not found in His Golden Love becasueof their rejection of Him, will live for all eternity without His Love, in a place where there is no love! They have followed the spirit of Babylon, which decieves with a false gold, a false love:

Revelation 17:4-6 The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.”

This Golden Gift of Christ is Salvation, the New Birth, the True Wealth that only God gives to those who have Faith to Trust Him!

All those who receive the Golden Gift of Christs Love will one day walk in a city whose very streets are pure gold. We will forever walk held up by the unfailing Love of Jesus Christ

Glory to God in the Highest! God’s Hesed is everlasting!

Frankincense

The next gift that Jesus gives us is  Frankincense. Frankincense is tapped from the scraggy Boswellia tree by slashing the bark, which is called striping, and allowing the exuded resins to bleed out and harden. These hardened resins are called tears. Frankincense trees have the ability to grow in extremely harsh environments. They can even grow directly out of solid rock. How they can do this is still unknown, but the Boswellia trees that grow on rock develop a swollen disk like trunk which prevents it from being torn away from the rock during violent storms. The tears from the trees which grow on solid rock are considered superior for their more fragrant aroma.[1].

  • Frankincense comes from the Hebrew levonah, meaning “white”.[2]

Frankincense was the main ingredient in the holy incense used in the Tabernacle and Temple Worship of Jehovah.

The altar of incense was made of acacia wood and overlaid with pure gold. It was situated in the Holy Place near the curtain before the Most Holy Place. The high priest burned incense when he tended the lamps (Exodus 30:1-9).

Once per year, on The Day Of Atonement, the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies and burn incense there before The Ark Of The Covenant.

Frankincense was used in the grain offering (Leviticus 2:1, 2:16, 6:15, 24:7), but was strictly excluded from the sin offering (Leviticus 5:11)

Incense was used to symbolize or accompany prayer (Psalm 141:2, Luke 1:10, Revelation 5:8, 8:3).

Jesus is our High Priest, ever living to offer prayers on our behalf.

Every morning and evening the sacred incense was burned. (Ex 30:7, 8; 2Ch 13:11) Once a year on the Day of Atonement coals from the altar were taken in a censer, or fire holder, together with two handfuls of incense, into the Holy of Holies, where the incense was made to smoke before the mercy seat of the ark of the testimony. (Leviticus 16:12, 13.)

Hebrews 4:14-16 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 7:24-25 But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

Through His Intercession, Jesus secured our Justification!

Jesus gives us the gift of His Justice, secured by His stripes, His blood, and His tears. He is interceding daily for us before His Father. His prayers are being offered even now for us, that we would honor God’s House, that we would continue His work and build a House that honors God!

Through the Frankincense of Christ, our sins, though they be a scarlet, are “white” as snow.

“‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the LORD, ‘Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool’” (Isaiah 1:18).

and being made white as snow, we are brought into God’s House of Justice. Frankincense is never used in the sin offering, for Frankincense is the Holiness of God’s Justice, secured by the blood of Jesus Christ. For by His stripes we are healed.

This incense was placed upon the golden Altar of Incense by the High Priest to be burned before the Lord. It was to be a sweet odor unto the Lord. Through Jesus the stench of our sinful life is converted into a  beautiful fragrance before God.

Myrrh

Myrrh is harvested from the Commiphora myrrha tree in a process similar to frankincense. The myrrh is the hardened resin produced from the taps of the bark. Myrrh means “bitterness”. It was used in perfumes, but most of all it was used to embalm the dead. It also had a numbing effect so was used as an antiseptic and pain killer.  A cousin tree  produced the famous “Balm of Gilead”.

Myrrh gum is commonly harvested from the species Commiphora myrrha, which is native to Yemen, Somalia, and eastern Ethiopia. The related Commiphora gileadensis, native to Eastern Mediterranean and particularly the Arabian Peninsula,is the biblically referenced Balm of Gilead.[3]

Myrrh is much different from the valuable gold and frankincense gifts. Myrrh symbolizes suffering, trials, tribulations, and afflictions. The church of Smyrna is known as the “Suffering Church”. The name “Smyrna” comes from myrrh. Suffering and persecution is something that Jesus experienced from the beginning of His life, from the flight into Egypt to avoid the wrath of King Herod, to the end of His life, to His wrongful crucifixion. In fact we are told that suffering was such an integral of Jesus’ life that, “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8).

Jesus never escaped the myrrh, the persecutions, throughout His entire life. No one has suffered more unjustly than He. And just as He was given the gift of myrrh by Wise Men, so we too, along with the gift of gold (salvation), and the gift of frankincense (holiness), are to receive the gift of myrrh (suffering) from the hand of the Lord, the wisest of men. It is not done to destroy us, but to teach us obedience. Suffering, trials, tribulations, persecutions are a natural part of this life. “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11)

The sufferings of Jesus produced Righteousness for all who come to Him. Indeed, we cease from sin as we suffer with Him.

Of these three gifts, only myrrh is mentioned at the beginning and end of Jesus’ life.

“Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews” (John 19:39-40).

Gold – symbolizing the (hesed) unfailing love of God which leads to our being born again, is a one time gift.

Frankincense – symbolizing the (mishpat) justice of God applied to our life-our justification-is given to us all at once when we are born again.

But myrrh – symbolizing (tsedeqah) righteousness, must be experienced all our life. Our righteousness is in Christ, but only as we learn to die to sin and to Satan and to the flesh, and that will be a life-long journey.

As we experience the myrrh of life, we will have the gold of His unfailing love sustaining us, and the frankincense of His intercessory prayers encouraging us.

The end result is that we step forth clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ for all eternity! We walk forever on streets of the Golden Love of God, forever in His House, living and developing as His children!

These three gifts that we have unwrapped this morning are Christ’s forever gifts! But just as He has re-gifted them to us, so we should re-gift them to others!


[2] Klein, Ernest, A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the Hebrew Language for Readers of English, The University of Haifa, Carta, Jerusalem, p.292