As I await our Christmas Eve church service, which only begins at 11:00 today, I have too much time on my hands, and after a couple chapters of Ezekiel. These chapters (36 & 37) happen to be two of my favorites.
Here Ezekiel seems passed his need to bring down curses on all Isreal's enemies and begins to focus more on the "why" behind his prophetic rage. All this seems due to Isreal's doings, not God's!
YHWH, is simply honoring the promises of old, regardless of Isreal's actions. Reminds me of some of my grace experience over the years.
Herein lies the truth, the underlying "Gospel" of grace, the "why" Isreal seems to re-emerge time and time again, even until this day. These people, the "stiff necked" as Moses called them, ridiculed by Samuel for demanding a king.
Still yet favor was upon them even later in Daniel's day, he and his three deported friends were found quite brilliant and resilient. Daniel surviving a den of lions, they a firey furnace. Later all are placed in leadership by Nebuchadrezzar and later continued with Darius.
Their contemporary, Ezekiel now offers a vision of dry bones that will once again live. In 37:28 he sounds much like John the Revelator, given Ezekiel's mention of a sanctuary in the midst of them forever, though John pushes further, in that God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple!!
I have always honored the scarlet thread that runs from Genesis to Revelation in an undeniable way. Yet, we tend too often to cherry pick scripture to justify our thoughts and preferred traditions. It seems necessary for our survival, even though if one searchs deep, there is always a hope held deep in our collective hearts, a gift to every being, regardless of their faith orientation.
Hope keeps us alive!
Yet, when it doesn't pan out the way we had hoped for, we cherry pick again and resolve our dismay with "God's ways are not our ways!" taken from “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8).
I am trying to avoid my tendency toward Scrooge and the Grinch this Christmas eve, while sharing my heart about this holiday season given that the very birthplace of Christ, Bethlehem has put a hold on celebrations for obvious reasons. They are at it again, with their neighbors! 1
So, back to Christmas, "the Roman Christian historian Sextus Julius Africanus dated Jesus' conception to March 25 (the same date upon which he held that the world was created), which, after nine months in his mother's womb, would result in a December 25 birth."2. Where he and other extrapolated the date of creation is in the links below.
"The early evidence shows that it wasn’t until the late 2nd Century until people started trying to figure out what date Jesus was born. By 336 AD, the emperor Constantine established December 25th as the date when Christians celebrate Christ’s birth. He didn’t choose a random date. Christians had discussed various dates for this celebration, and December 25th must have become an established precedent for quite some time beforehand, for Constantine often chose the most widely attested viewpoint since it would receive the least controversy. 3
Ole Constantine was quite the politician!
We humans need mile markers as our species matures in Christ. Christmas is likely one of those, perhaps even God inspired as it does truly afford hope until, though what we have done with it was likely never intended.
"God rest ye merry gentleman, let nothing you dismay!"