Advent Devotion for December 17
In lighting the candle, the candle lighter says: “Where is he born king of the Jews?”
SCRIPTURE: Psalm 2:1-9
1 Why are the nations so angry?
Why do they waste their time with futile plans?
2 The kings of the earth prepare for battle;
the rulers plot together
against the Lord
and against his anointed one.
3 “Let us break their chains,” they cry,
“and free ourselves from slavery to God.”
4 But the one who rules in heaven laughs.
The Lord scoffs at them.
5 Then in anger he rebukes them,
terrifying them with his fierce fury.
6 For the Lord declares, “I have placed my chosen king on the throne
in Jerusalem, on my holy mountain.”
7 The king proclaims the Lord’s decree:
“The Lord said to me, ‘You are my son.
Today I have become your Father.
8 Only ask, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance,
the whole earth as your possession.
9 You will break them with an iron rod
and smash them like clay pots.’”
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 2:1-6
1 Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, 2 “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”
3 King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. 4 He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”
5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote:
6 ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah,
are not least among the ruling cities of Judah,
for a ruler will come from you
who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’”
SOME THOUGHTS: Oil was used in the anointing of priests and kings. As you know, the word “Messiah” means “the anointed one.” You’ll recall Samuel anointing Saul as king of Israel and then also anointing, with some trepidation, the youth, David, as king while Saul was still in power. The psalmist writes of the futility of earthly kings revolting against God, for he has placed his chosen king on the throne. The Messiah, a descendant of King David, will eventually rule all the nations of the earth as a gift from the Father. In a very real sense, this battle by the kings of the earth against God continues to this day. The rulers of the world in which we live, reject the Messiah, the Anointed One. And we see very clearly the fruit of their earthly rule! The psalmist also prophesies of the ultimate defeat of all earthly governance, as the King of kings establishes his rule eternally. Herod, the paranoid, in his fright, called a meeting of the religious leaders to find out about “the Messiah,” the newborn king of the Jews. He knew from of old that this Messiah would be a king, and in his case, a threat to his rule. He should have read the psalm again and he would have known he could not win nor kill this little baby. Fighting against God is truly a losing proposition, then and now. If you notice, the visit of the magi, that is, people from other nations and tribes came to worship Israel’s king. From the very beginning, the reign of Jesus as King would be over all nations of the world, a reiteration of God’s promise to Abraham that through his seed, all the nations of the world would be blessed. Whenever you see someone who does not look like you, remember they are potential heirs of the Kingdom just like you.
PRAYER: Our gracious and loving God and Father, we long for the coming of your Son, the King of kings, and Lord of all lords. The leadership and nations of this world have rejected you. In vain we have sought our own path. Even as Herod sought actively to kill your Son as an infant, our world has in effect, sought to kill Jesus by simply rejecting or ignoring what he has done to redeem us all. In too many lives he is non-existent or irrelevant. Forgive our foolish and narcissistic ways. We have become our own gods and are reaping the fruits of those labors. In this season of Advent, may we tune our hearts to the truth and significance of the birth of the Anointed One and may your Holy Spirit stir us all to repentance. This we pray in the name of the King. Amen. — Daniel Sharp