Almost 2,000 years ago Joseph and Mary journeyed to Bethlehem. But approximately 2,040 years before they did, Jacob and Rachel, another expectant couple, traveled south along the same road.
Rachel gave birth to Benjamin, but died soon after delivery, and Jacob buried her near Bethlehem (Gen. 35:19).
(Photo: Anton Raphael Mengs. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)
Rachel’s death foreshadowed the devastation that the territory of Benjamin would suffer in Jeremiah’s time:
Rachel is weeping for her children . . . Because they are no more. —Jeremiah 31:15
Yet the prophecy found its final fulfillment in Jesus’ day, when Herod the Great slaughtered all baby boys in Bethlehem (Matt. 2:17-18). So, at God’s direction, Joseph fled to Egypt with Mary and Jesus to live until Herod’s death.
Each movement of Jesus’ family finds its cause in God’s revelation to Joseph:
Fleeing Bethlehem to Egypt
Returning from Egypt to Israel
Avoiding Judea to settle in Galilee
God’s purposes for these moves lay first in the protection of His Son, but Matthew notes that each directive also fulfilled Scripture. I doubt anyone but God saw beforehand the murky prophecies fulfilled by these geographic moves. But in hindsight, they become clear.
God’s Odd Leading
God’s leading and timing in our lives often don’t make sense either. At least at first.
Most of us give Christmas gifts that are quickly forgotten. After the iPhone gets cracked, or the DVD gets watched, or the sweater gets snagged, they all end up at the landfill. This year, why not give a gift (or ask for one) that will last a lifetime?
(Photo: by Carsten Tolkmit. Flickr. CC-BY-SA-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
Bible Lands study tools make great gifts because they take your personal Bible study to the next level. What’s more, they don’t wear out.
Here are my top 5 recommendations this year for gifts you’ll enjoy giving (and receiving).
Sometimes finding favor with God makes life much harder. You know the story. Gabriel informed Mary she would give birth to the Son of God. Many thoughts ran through her mind, not the least of which was how she, a virgin, could conceive.
What’s more, Mary knew the social and biblical fallout that occurs for a pregnant woman without a husband. How could she possibly explain that her pregnancy was an of God and not an act of passion?
Finding favor with God meant that she faced disfavor from people. Maybe finding favor with God isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?
Christmas usually causes us to marvel at the virgin conception—and at the love of our God who would become Man so that He could die for our sins. But there’s another part of the Christmas story that amazes me just as much.
Thanksgiving and Christmas. Birthdays and anniversaries. National and religious holidays. These special days circle around each year to do more than remind us we were born or that we got married or it’s time to go shopping.
These celebrations prompt us to thinkabout a person and about marriage and about patriotism and about the Lord. It’s the why, not just the what.