Preparation for Christmas is usually a big thing. Consideration for what gifts to buy starts early. Getting just the right thing for someone who doesn’t live near us is always a challenge. While it has become easier to ship presents, thanks to online retailers, it still takes lead time. We have to shop for local gifts and get those presents wrapped. We spend time going through our Christmas card address list to make sure it is up to date. Some write a Christmas letter with family news to go out with those cards and then the cards themselves must be signed, addressed and mailed. We send invitations to family that we hope might visit over Christmas and then for people we would like to invite to a special dinner. We decorate our homes with a Christmas tree and other seasonal displays. Some put up outside lights in advance of the holiday. By the time Christmas arrives, we are exhausted.
...the preparation that went into the first Christmas was nothing short of miraculous.
We may not think of this often but the preparation that went into the first Christmas was nothing short of miraculous. God planned the first Christmas gift several thousand years in advance. Not only that, it was the perfect gift. The gift was one that every person needed, whether they realized it or not. God had created mankind in his own image, perfect and sinless. However, he didn’t want a bunch of robots, permanently programmed to know him, love and trust him. He gave them a free will so they could show their love for him without being forced. That free will, combined with temptation from Satan himself led them to reject what God had lovingly done for them. They wanted more. They wanted to be gods in their own right. They wanted the mind of God, to know all he knows. With that motive, they disobeyed the one restriction God had given them.
Rather than destroy them, God gave them a gift. He gave them the promise of a Savior who would make their sin right. He didn’t say “you’ll get the gift if…” He simply made the promise of his perfect gift (Genesis 3:15)
God continued making preparations during those thousands of years. He taught his people that sinning against His will was serious business. It separated mankind from God. He also taught them that only He could reconcile mankind to Himself. There was nothing people could do to accomplish that.
Fifty times God gave such detail in describing the Messiah’s birth, life and even his death that he couldn’t be missed.
He sent messengers called prophets to begin to flesh out his promise of a Savior. He told them from which ancestral line He would come. He continued to remind people of their sin and disciplining them, always reminding them that His solution would come, the Messiah, the Savior from sin. Through his prophets, God pointed to and described the Messiah in more than 400 ways. Fifty times God gave such detail in describing the Messiah’s birth, life and even his death that he couldn’t be missed. (Here is an interesting web site to browse: https://www.jesusfilm.org/blog/old-testament-prophecies/)
Though people didn’t have the patience to wait for his promise. He never withdrew that promise. He continued planning his gift.
God allowed certain earthly kingdoms to rise and fall for his own purpose, over time, so all things would be just right for his gift to be delivered. He also had all of those prophesies written down, in the Old Testament Scriptures, so we can look back and see how meticulously God planned for his gift to be given.
In this week leading up to the celebration of Jesus’ birth, may we pause and consider the preparation God made for the first Christmas celebration. Perhaps we can take a little time out of our own Christmas preparations to spend time in his Word.