By Hannah Brzozowski
There's something about Christmas that's different than any other holiday. This is just my opinion, of course. For me, there's an excitement that starts to build right around Halloween. It's the moment when you see the first decorations for sale in a store or the first ad on your feed that says "It's not too early to plan for Christmas." It's when you think of that great gift idea.
Some people see it a little differently. There's the people who have a very strong opinion that Christmas should only start to be felt after Thanksgiving and not a second sooner. There's the complaints that Americans (and the rest of the world) are too obsessed with material items and that's why they're so antsy to Thanksgiving and go straight to Christmas.
So, to all my critics and Grinches, this blog is for you.
Did you know, Christmas was anticipated long before Thanksgiving was made a holiday? Long before Halloween or even 4th of July? Christmas has been anticipated since the moment that Adam and Eve took a bite out of that forbidden fruit thousands of years ago.
You see, there are "Christ figures" scattered throughout the Old Testament (the first big chunk of the Bible). These figures point to the coming of Jesus. Here's just a few examples.
Noah obeyed God and looked crazy to everyone around him when he started to build a large boat to save himself, his family, and a bunch of animals. Because of Noah's obedience, we're here today. Thus, he's a savior type.
There was Moses, who is largely seen as the savior of the Hebrew people from slavery in the book of Exodus. He walked right up to Pharaoh and told him to let God's people go. This is a symbol of Jesus freeing us from our slavery to sin.
In Hosea 11:1, "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and I called my son out of Egypt." This is both a historical reference to the Hebrews being taken out of slavery but also a prophesy. When Jesus was born, a ruler wanted him dead, so his family moved to Egypt for a few years. Matthew quotes this verse in his gospel account, when Jesus' family moved back to Nazareth from Egypt, saying that this was to fulfill the Scripture.
The number "40" is seen all over the Old Testament. There were the 40 days and 40 nights of rain with the ark (mentioned above). There were the 40 years in the wilderness for the Hebrew people after they left Egypt. Both pointing to Jesus being in the wilderness for 40 days right before he starts his public ministry.
Possibly the most famous story of all time, the story of David and Goliath, points to Jesus, too. In Genesis 3, God speaks to Satan, the serpent, saying, "he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” Ultimately, this is fulfilled when Jesus defeated Satan by dying on the cross and rising again. But, when we look at the story of David and Goliath, we see David cutting off Goliath's head. Not only that, but in the original Hebrew, the word repeatedly used to describe Goliath's "bronze" armor looks like the same word for "serpent."
Elijah was a major prophet thousands of years ago. He was one of the few who actually performed miracles and he never died. Similarly, Jesus performed many, many miracles while on the earth and he ascended into Heaven after he was resurrected from the dead (40 days later, in fact).
Another famous story is when Jonah gets swallowed whole and stays in a big fish for 3 days. You know who else spend three days in a very very dark place - Jesus!
Esther is a savior type as well. She saved the Hebrews from being entirely wiped out from King Nebuchadnezzar.
Not only are there Christ figures all over the Old Testament, there's also prophesies. While the figures use symbolism to point to Jesus, the prophecies more directly describe him or the promises he will fulfill.
In Genesis 12:3, God says to Abraham (Jesus' great, great, great, etc... grandfather) "I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” This was referencing Jesus, of course.
In 2 Samuel 7:13, it says, "He is the one who will build a house—a temple—for my name. And I will secure his royal throne forever."
In Psalm 22:1, it says exactly what Jesus said on the cross: "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?"
In Isaiah 53, it says: "He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth." This prophesied Jesus' court hearing before he was crucified.
And on and on it goes. There are over 300 prophesies about Jesus in the Old Testament!
There's something very clear to me after studying all of this. God likes it when we anticipate things, especially Jesus. So for us today, what better way to look forward to Jesus' birth all over again than to start to decorate a little early. Better yet, start to read a Bible plan about the birth of Jesus. This one for example. Or thank God daily for sending his Son to earth to live a humble life, die on a cross, and rise from the dead so that we can have a relationship with him. Or share with someone this Christmas season about why Christmas is extra special to you, or invite them to a church service.
I think we can all agree that Christmas is a special time that brings together family and friends to celebrate the birth of our savior. It's important to remember that Jesus decided to humble himself, being born of a virgin, his first bed was a feeding trough, and he was surrounded by animals, as he took his first nap. Jesus did that for you and for me and that's worth celebrating more than once a year.
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