God's wrapped gift.
God's wrapped gift.
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God's wrapped gift.
Thinking of Bethlehem, and why did it happen to be that it was chosen to be the birthplace of the King of kings? And, you know, Bethlehem is a small place, very small town. I've often wondered why God didn't choose a more religious place for it, for this great event, such as Shiloh. Shiloh was the first place the tent--the ark was set after it crossed Jordan. Or Gilgal, another great religious city; or Zion, on the mountain, another great religious city; or even the proud capital of Jerusalem, with all of its sages and saints through the age. Why didn't God choose Jerusalem?
Why would He choose Bethlehem? Maybe it looked like He might've chose some place, one of the great cities of refuge, that would've protected His Son in case that some trouble come up. The refuge places like Ramoth-gilead, that was a great refuge that was built, for the people could run into these towers. Kadesh was another great city of refuge; Hebron, another great city of refuge. Why God picked on little Bethlehem, and then did not choose these greater cities...?... They had greater names, and more of a spiritual background. But, you know, God has a way of doing things, just His Own way about things. I'm so glad He does. See? Sometimes He takes things that doesn't have a spiritual background, or doesn't have any background at all. And that's why He is God; He can take something that's nothing, and make something out of it. And then that's what makes Him God. That's what makes us love Him. That's what makes us poor people appreciate Him, because that even though we, poor, with no background, yet God can do great things with us if He ever gets us under His control.
Joshua, of course, was the one who taken the children of Israel over and divided up the ground. And this tribe of Judah was given this portion where Bethlehem is, which is in the upper northern corner of the province of Judah, a little strip that kind of runs out like a little peninsula. And in this place, this province, this great province, it's the northern wheat country, where the wheat belt was, where they raised lots of wheat and barley.
And one of Caleb's sons established and founded this city. Salmon was his name, he was one of Caleb's sons. If you want to look that up, I'm skipping over a lot of these Scriptures, but I see some of the brethren are putting them down. In I Chronicles 2, 15, also you find it in Matthew 1:5, and where they--he established and founded this great city, which was a small city. But it's great because of the great things that happened at this city. As I've always said, it isn't the great church; it's the great God in the church. It isn't the great, holy mountain; it's the great Holy Spirit that was on the mountain. It isn't the holy man; it's the Holy Ghost in the man. See, that's the way this city was. It was small in stature, and more in the valley, and it wasn't too much to look upon; it's population was small, and is yet today. But it was because God chose it to do something. That's what I like: something that God chooses. No matter what it looks like to people, just as long as God chose it.
Rahab the harlot, that we're all familiar with, she being a--a young girl that was turned on the street by a heathen father and mother, that put her on the street because she was beautiful, and was to bring an income to them on prostitution... And yet, down in this immoral girl that was turned on the street, she had heard that there was a God Who answered prayer. And the first opportunity that she got to accept that God, or do something for Him, she did it. And God spared her life, and saved her father and mother, and her family. She fell in love with a general in the army of Israel, we find in history, and married this general. And their courtship was wonderful. And finally they settled down and lived at Bethlehem.
And through this general she brought to the world a--a son, the son of--of--of... I can't think of the general's name just now. I was trying to. I thought I had his name down here, but I don't. I have her son's name, but it was Rahab's son to this general. His name was Salmon. Not the Solomon of the... built the temple, the son of David, but another Salmon. And this Salmon brought forth a son whose name was Boaz. And Boaz, oh, we are all acquainted with that wonderful story of Boaz and Ruth.
Now, you see, this harlot was a Gentile, and she was an ancient grandmother to our Lord Jesus. And also when--when Boaz, her grandson, come forth and married Ruth the Moabite, he also married into a Gentile. Which made Jesus also part Gentile, earthly speaking. Then when they brought their child forth, his name was Obed. And Obed had a son, and his name was Jesse. And Jesse had a son whose name was David. All this taken place in little Bethlehem. What is it? The lineage of the Lord Jesus, His background that the great spiritual men were overlooking, or the so-called spiritual men.
And it was on this same grounds that Samuel the prophet anointed David to be king over Israel, right here at Bethlehem. And through David came forth the great Son, "Thou Son of David," the Son that was borned in a little stable manger over by the side of the hill, on the west side of the city. It was there on that hill where the Angels of God sang their first Noel. The word "Bethlehem," let's break it down. "B-e-t-h" means "house." "E-l" means "God." "E-l-h-a-m" means "bread.": "the house of God's Bread." How fitting it was then for the Bread of Life to come out of Bethlehem, "House of God's Bread." Oh, it's a beautiful story.
It must've been just a little after dark, and the sun had gone down. The stars probably had been out, and the light was about two hours gone as the little donkey was placing his little, tired feet up along the backside of the hill west of Bethlehem, as he watched where he placed his little hoofs, because his cargo was precious. And Joseph was leading him gently along, as the little trio started up the hill, or been traveling all day long, coming from down to Nazareth. And she was expecting to be mother at any time, way past due, maybe.
But all things are foreordained of God, that works together for good to them that love Him. It was ordained of God that there should be a heartless king in that day, the bloodthirsty Herod. God knew about that. God knew about the taxes, and how this brutal government did not have no thoughts of the mercy on that poor mother that was just about to be ready to deliver her firstborn Son just in a few days. But he commanded that they all should come to their native birthplace and pay taxes, "No matter what condition she's in, she's got to come, anyhow." God knew all about that. He foreknew all things. And He--He knows all things (See?) and He makes everything work together for good.
The little trio was making no fuss about it, as they come up the hill. Finally, after much groaning, the little donkey... I can see them as they'd stop at the top of the hill, where they come up from the west side, from Nazareth, coming over. And after they topped the hill, to look down into the valley where little Bethlehem laid... Many torches was burning. Many people had gathered from all over Galilee to come into their birthplace there at Bethlehem, and through the province to be taxed of the Roman government. No matter what conditions, they'd stroll along the road, the sick and the needy, and the bedridden, the leper, the cancered, the--the--the--the poor, the lame, the halt, the blind. All had to come, because it was a government order. And Herod was behind it, and it must be done.
And as our little party stops at the top of the hill, there must've been a large rock laying there. And I can see Joseph pick her up tenderly in his arms, and help her off the little mule, and--and set her up on the side of the rock. And the little mule sighed for his breath. And as Joseph then walked a few steps forward, looked down into little Bethlehem, and seen the streets crowded, and the roaring, the torches a-burning in the streets, and the yells of the people, and they was laying in the yards and in the courts, and all outside the city gates. Must've been some sight.
Joseph must've said something like this, "Mary, dear, just think, just beyond the city on the north side, that's where Ruth the Moabite gleaned yonder in the fields of Boaz. Yonder, just beyond that, up over the mountain yonder, is where David with his slingshot took the lion to the ground, and pulled the sheep from his mouth. Must've been there, that where Joshua stood here with his gleaming sword, the fearless warrior of our people, and divided the lands, and give this inheritance to the tribe of Judah, to which we are-- we are lineage to." And, at different things, of how that he must've been explaining to her what taken place.
And then to hear no sound from behind him, he must've turned to look, to see if she was still setting on the rock. And when he turned, and he seen her pretty face turned towards the skies, he didn't have to ask anymore, because the reflection of the Star was looking back through her eyes. He knew she was looking at something. And she looked at him, and said, "Joseph, have you noticed the Star hanging yonder?" And when he looked in a surprise, say, "I hadn't noticed It before, dear." "Well, it's been following us ever since the sun went down. I've watched it. It must mean something, because I have the most wonderful feeling." You know, God does things like that sometimes for His people, shows us a Light, or some way that we can know that He's near and He's on the scene. And no matter what the world has to say or do, He's still there, and everything will be all right. He just witnesses it back by the Holy Spirit, that we can feel It.
And Joseph might've said something like this. "Mary, you know what? I've never been so happy in all my life when I've been drove around by the Roman government; but yet I have never been so happy as I am right now, and I don't know why. It seems like there's a sacredness over the little city tonight, where we roamed when we were boys and girls, back in our teenage and school age."
Way into the East, and many hundreds of miles away from there, the Magi was already on their road. They'd seen His Star, and was coming to worship God's little Gift Package that He was sending to the world. Just a little while from then, and the world was going to receive its greatest Gift that it ever received, a little Package wrapped up, a little, first little Christmas Package that was ever wrapped in all the world, God wrapped It up. I want to break in on my thought, and say this. The greatest thing was ever wrapped in human flesh was wrapped in It, God Himself wrapped His Ownself in a Christmas Package and sent it to the world. Why did they refuse It? Why couldn't they see It? Why did they turn It down? Why is it they didn't want It? The same reason they don't want It tonight. It wasn't handed to them in the custom that they were used to gifts being handed. That's the reason It's rejected yet tonight, is because It's not handed to the people in the custom that they have been used to receiving gifts. But God wrapped His Own Package. He's got a right to do it; He's the One that's a-giving It. He has a right to wrap It any way He wants to wrap It. Doesn't make any difference how it is, He's got a right to do it, because He's the One that's giving the--the Gift.
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God's wrapped gift.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.