"Look, I am standing at the door, knocking. If one of you hears Me calling and opens the door, I will come in to share his meal, side by side with him." (Rev 3:20)
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Wednesday, December 23, 2009
The Lamb for the Sacrifice
By Susan Fox
What Child is this who, laid to rest on Mary's lap is sleeping?(William Chatterton Dix, 1865)
Dec. 24, 2009, Gold Canyon, Arizona -- At Christmas time, I recall fondly Abraham’s prophesy. “God Himself will provide the lamb for the sacrifice.” (Gen. 22:8)
In obedience to God, dear Father Abraham with much grief took his son, Isaac, to a height in Moriah to sacrifice him. Isaac, who was conceived in Abraham’s old age, was his only son by his wife Sarah – also well past her child bearing years. God had promised them that Abraham’s descendants would be as numerous as the stars.
But God tested Abraham, telling him to take his only son Isaac, whom he loved, and offer him up as a holocaust. (Gen. 22:2) This seemed to be the end of all Abraham’s hopes and dreams.But he obeyed. He put the wood for the fire on his son’s back and proceeded to Moriah.
On the way, Isaac suddenly realized they had wood and fire, but no animal for the holocaust, so he asked his father, “Where is the sacrifice?”
“God Himself will provide the lamb for the sacrifice,” Abraham responded.
God did stop Abraham from offering Isaac. And He substituted His own Beloved Son, Jesus Christ -- Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
We celebrate the birth of the Father’s Beloved Son in Bethlehem on Dec. 25.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Son.”(John 3:16)
“And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14)
“My daddy gave me a name, then he walked away.” (“Father of Mine” by Everclear)
The sad lyrics of “Father of Mine” show us how our current generation views fathers. Many broken families and a high divorce rate have made people afraid of the commitment of marriage. Thus children are born out of wedlock. And more unhappy people are raised in single parent homes.
There are those who believe that God created the world and then abandoned it -- sort of like a Powerful Watchmaker, who wound up the clock and then left it alone on the mantle.
But the Incarnation speaks of a very different kind of Father. He is not an impersonal, “leave-Me-alone” Father, but a Father very passionately involved in the lives of His children -- so involved He sent His Son to become man, live with us, and then die for us on the cross that we may be freed from the slavery sin, that we might be happy. Jesus gave us the beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount to show us how to live happily (Matthew, chapter 5). Blessed means happy. Blessed/happy are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for goodness, the merciful, the clean of heart, the peacemakers, and yes, the persecuted.
Who was present at the Birth of the God-man Jesus is also very telling.
God was so excited about what He’d done, He sent a host of angels to announce the birth of His Son to a group of lowly shepherds. The angels brought “good news.” “For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. . . . Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:10-14)
The shepherds got excited also, and decided to go see this wondrous thing that took place in Bethlehem, and when they saw Mary, Joseph and the child, they became the first evangelists. They revealed the message they had received about the child. All who heard were awed.
From this story, some may conclude God only cares about the poor.
But the rich also came and worshiped the little God man child.
Three kings from out of the East came to worship Jesus. How did they know that a great ruler had been born among them? They were awake. They were looking for the signs. And they saw His star at its rising. “Where is the newborn King of the Jews?” they asked.
So we may also ask the same question this Christmas, and find ourselves standing at the feet of Mary and Joseph, marveling with the shepherds and asking, “What Child is This?”
But just as today, millions of unborn children and many elderly are crushed beneath the “pro-choice” philosophy of convenience and I-have-the-power-so-I-can-kill-who-I-want, so also the Birth of the Savior of the world unleashed a terrible persecution. King Herod knew he was not the rightful heir to the throne of David, and he feared that the child born in Bethlehem was this king. So when the Magi failed to return and tell him where to find Jesus, he ordered the death of all boys in Bethlehem age two and under. Jesus escaped into Egypt when his faithful father Joseph received a warning in a dream. But all the other baby boys in Bethlehem – the Holy Innocents -- were slaughtered: “A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children and she would not be consoled since they were no more.” (Matt. 2:18)
So many women, who have been deceived by the mores of our culture and made to have an abortion, bitterly weep for their children once they realize what they have done.
So we stand on the eve of Christmas about to make a terrible mistake in passing a health care reform bill that will again unleash a murderous attack on our children and our elderly. The Democrats who stood against this bill and proclaimed their firm resolve to stand for human life are apparently abandoning our children and elderly for the price of some trifling benefits for their states.
But we know that such people -- like King Herod -- have lived side by side with the faithful many times before throughout history. And yet in the midst of persecution and terror, the shepherds and the kings managed to find their happiness in the tiny arms of the Infant Jesus Christ.
And perhaps there, some of us may be called to help supply the lamb for the sacrifice.