December 3, 2023
Scripture: Genesis 12:1-2
What is Christmas? What would you say if someone asked you, "What is Christmas?
In English, Christmas is Christ mas, where Christ means Christ and mas means Mass, so in Japanese, it means Christ's Mass.
However, Christmas is not Christ's birthday, and there is no biblical celebration of Christmas.
Therefore, from the standpoint of not following what is not written in the Bible, there is no reason for Christians to celebrate Christmas. Nativity plays, for example, are teaching children something that is not true.
From an evangelistic standpoint, however, Christmas is the greatest opportunity to share the gospel with the whole world. The same is true for children.
Thanks to Christmas, the whole world knows the name of Jesus. All that remains is for the church to preach the gospel correctly.
That is why this season is the Christmas message. This Christmas, we would like to study together those who waited for Christ from the Old and New Testaments!
The people we will be taking up this time are Abraham, then David, Daniel, and the fourth is the secret.
First of all, Abraham. Today we will start from before Abraham. We will start from the Creation.
Act I: Creation
Now, the story begins with the Creation. Creation means that God, who has existed from eternity, created a story and started it. It is a grand drama. First, he created the earth as a stage. Earth alone is too small, so we created the universe. Next, we created the characters. We created angels, humans, animals, and plants. We created the background. We created the sun, the moon, and the stars. We also prepared food, water, air, and air conditioning for the characters.
And we created a script for the drama, a mysterious script that gives the characters freedom of choice, yet it is a script that was created in advance. This is a script that God can create.
God has chosen the protagonist of this drama, and that protagonist is not a human being, but Jesus Christ.
The villains are the devil and demons.
The question for non-Christians is whether God created evil.
God did not create evil or sin. He only created evil and the possibility of sin. When angels choose to sin, they become demons and evil spirits, and when humans choose to sin, they become villains.
God also created the time for the characters to perform in the form of a birth.
In fact, there were two scripts. One is a script without sin and death. The other is a script with sin, death, and salvation. Adam and Eve chose to sin, so the story of sin, death, and salvation is going on.
Now, in the second script, the main character, Jesus, suffers and takes the place of sin on the cross.
This story ends with a happy ending. The hero comes to earth as king, destroys all the villains, and creates a kingdom that will last forever. Therefore, we must avoid becoming villains. We are also characters. The duration of our appearances is from birth to death. This is a story in which the characters are given freedom of choice, so we must make good choices.
Here is a look back at Act I.
The universe and the earth are set in place, plants and animals are created, Adam and Eve are created. They chose sin, and the story became a story of sin, death, and salvation. The rest of the characters who would be born from them all came to be born with a sin nature, so they could no longer choose good. Therefore, the theme is not "try hard to be good," but "be saved from sin.
God chose faith as the way to be saved. Faith means to believe and to trust. What is it that we need to believe?
The first word God gave for salvation is Genesis 3:15.
Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He shall tread on your head, and you shall bite his heel."
You are the devil. The devil is a former angel who sinned and became a villain.
The woman is Eve. The offspring of the devil are those who follow him. The offspring of the woman are those who long for God's salvation. Hostility is a relationship where they do not become friends, but remain enemies.
The villain and the righteous do not become friends.
He is the Messiah. In other words, Jesus. Jesus chastises the devil twice. The first time, he frees the captives who are being held captive by him. The second time, he judges him and his followers. But the devil also strikes back. The devil bites the Messiah's heel. That is, when Jesus comes the first time, he will be wounded in body and soul for the rest of his life.
Now the story of sin, death, and salvation comes to the time of Noah.
The story needed a reset here. This is because the speed of the fall of mankind is so fast that they destroy each other in the middle of the story. So, in the time of Noah, all but eight members of Noah's family and the mated animals were destroyed.
Then came the time of Nimrod. Genesis 11. Again, the speed of the Fall is too fast. So God made it so that all mankind could not use the same language. It continues to this day.
Because of this language barrier, you and I are having a hard time speaking English freely in Canada.
And finally, God's story is now in its second act. It is the appearance of the Jewish people.
Act II: Abraham and the Jewish People
The second act is the Jewish people. God wanted to express Himself through the Jewish people and make His word known to the whole world. Also, Act II is the training of the Jewish people as God's people and the birth of the Messiah as a Jew.
So, about 4,000 years ago, he created the Jewish nation from a man named Abram. This is from Genesis 12. Today, we will focus on this Abraham.
Genesis 12:1 The Lord said to Abram. 1 And the LORD said to Abram, "Leave your native place, your father's house, and go to the land that I will show you, and I will bring you out of the land of your fathers.
2 Then I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great. Thy name shall be a blessing.
God gave Abraham two commands. To go forth and to obey. This is the same for Christians. In order to enter God's community, one must first leave the existing community. This is because it is impossible to live according to the new values if you live according to the values of those who do not believe in God forever.
Then, you must obey. Until now, I have been the main character in my life. All you had to do was to obey yourself. Sin, in other words, is self-centeredness. Therefore, to be free from sin means to become God-centered instead of self-centered.
The "if" is faith; there is no "if" in the NIV. God always asks us to believe and obey His word. Believing the word is not easy. We have two eyes attached to us, so we have a hard time believing what we cannot see. But the important things in this world are invisible.
Faith, in other words, is God's test. If you believe and obey, you pass. If you don't believe and obey, you repeat the process over and over again.
Abraham was an honor student who always passed God's test. He came to Canaan at the age of 75, to a land where he had never lived and where the language was completely different from his own.
I also came to Canada at age 59, but there were children there and church people. If I was asked to go to a place where I didn't know anyone and didn't understand the language at age 75, I probably wouldn't be able to do it. And it's not a trip, it's a migration.
The important point is that you are placed in an environment where you can only rely on God. This is good. If you rely on God, God will answer. You can walk with God. But if you have many other things to rely on besides God, you will rely on them. As a result, you will not go to God.
Now, God gave Abraham the following test. It is the promise that childless Abraham will be able to make a people out of himself. God asked Abraham to believe this.
Genesis 15:5 And He brought him out and said. Now look up to the heavens. If you can count the stars, count them." And again He said, "This is what your descendants will be like. "This is what your descendants will be like."
The test of faith is to believe the Word of God, but at the same time to be given an environment in which there is no indication that it will happen.
We Christians are also tested in faith. We know that we can go to heaven, that God is our father, that the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit are always with us, that if we pray it will be answered in a good way, that our lives are guided by grace. However, the situation is not getting better, so many doubts arise. We are tempted to doubt God and compromise with the devil. But with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can trust God to the end.
In any case, we have only the words of the Bible and nothing changes in reality. Not only does it not change, but it seems to get worse. But if we can trust God and stay patient, the test of faith is passed.
Here we must know that God's script has hardships. Interesting stories have mountains and valleys.
Genesis 15:13 Then it was said to Abram. 'You shall know this thing well. Your descendants shall be sojourners in a land that is not theirs, and they shall be enslaved and afflicted for four hundred years.
Now your descendants are the fleshly descendants of Abraham, that is, the Jewish nation. But if there is a valley, the mountains are next.
14 But I will judge that nation whom they serve, and afterward they will come out of it with many possessions.
Now God also begat from Abraham the offspring of faith.
Genesis 17:5 Your name shall no longer be called Abram. Your name shall be Abraham. For I will make you a father of many nations.
6 And I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, and I will make thee a nation of nations. And kings shall come out of thee.
God made Abraham not only the ancestor of the Jewish people, but also of the faithful.
And through Abraham, God showed the form of the messianic way of salvation. That is the story of Abraham's offering of Isaac.
Genesis 24：1 After these events, God put Abraham to the test. When God called out to him, "O Abraham," he said, "Yes. Here I am.
In the New Translation of the Bible, the word "trial" refers to a test of faith.
2 God said. Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. And on the mountain which I will show thee, offer Isaac to me as a sacrifice of whole burnt offering."
The question is whether or not to obey the command to sacrifice the child Isaac. Some call this a cruel command, but there is a flip side to this. Abraham believed that God could not possibly kill the son of promise.
Hebrews 11:19 He believed that God could also raise a man from the dead. So he raised Isaac from the dead. This is a pattern.
A pattern is a way of teaching in advance what will happen in the future.
God taught through Abraham in order to teach in advance that one day He would kill His own child as a substitute for the sins of mankind. Abraham did not have to kill Isaac, but Jesus, the Son of God, was actually killed on the cross. But he fulfilled his responsibility to take the place of our sins and was resurrected. In other words, God the Father also brought Jesus back from the dead by resurrection.
The star of the story of sin, death, and salvation is Jesus the Messiah. This Messiah first forgave the sins of His followers in love. At the same time, he also freed the captives held captive by the devil.
But make no mistake; the Messiah does not mean saviour or deliverer. The Greek word for Messiah is Christ. Both mean not salvation but the One who is King, Priest, and Prophet.
As Prophet, Jesus taught the Word of God correctly, and as Priest, He bore the sins of sinners in His body. But there is another office. It is the office of the king.
Therefore, the gospel has two meanings: to give thanks to Jesus the Savior and to worship the One who came as King. And the most effective time to speak this gospel is during the Christmas season.
There are many ways to spend Christmas, but to accept and worship Jesus as the Messiah is to be the one who knows best the meaning of Christmas.
Let us pray.