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We’re on a new series together, and this would be just a three week series. We’re going to go through the idea of Christmas, and I’m going to give you just the theme of the whole thought in the beginning, and I’m going to draw conclusions the rest of the time. And an illustration for us at the end. And this, this is the thought I want to get across this morning. I want to tell you two, by the end of the end of the day, I want to give you something to take home as a body of believers who trust in Christ to to have with your families in order to encourage them closer to the Lord. But this is what Christmas is about. Christmas for us is about God becoming flesh and dwelling, dwelling among us. Okay. And and I know some of us are running around thinking of, of, you know, maybe you’re buying a gift card for that extended family member that you have to and, or or maybe or maybe you’re thinking about trying to get the right present, that when the person opens it under the tree, um, they’re going to just think the best thoughts in the world about you. Just read their heart in their mind. Right. Well, Christmas for us. And that’s not a bad thing to have happen, but Christmas for us should be about more than just gift giving. Christmas is should be more about than just feeling good around the holiday seasons.

Christmas should be more about changing your behavior. I know the joke goes that there are Christians that are CEOs. Christmas and Easter only people. Um, and then sometimes around those holidays we make these like declarations before the Lord. And I’m going to start going to church every day in 2015. Right. Um, which is not bad either. The Christmas God that. Because God became flesh and dwelt among us. What Christmas communicates to us is more than more than feeling good on the holidays. More. More than trying to figure out how to improve your behavior more. More than buying the right gift. What Christmas is really about is an encounter with the living God. God became flesh. For the purpose of encountering you or you encountering him, that he may impact your life and you be changed for all of eternity. Christmas is about a collision where God collides with us as people in our culture, in our context, to communicate to us the reason he’s created us, that we may be set free in him and enjoy him for all of eternity. Christmas is a reflection of God’s desire to tabernacle with us. The word tabernacle literally means to dwell. And God’s desire is to dwell in us and among us, and work through us as people. From the beginning of the Bible. The Bible begins to describe for us even the first five books that Moses wrote, that God collides with a broken culture to connect people to him, starting from the beginning of creation.

When creation falls, God sets his plan of redemption, and God continues to show up in the lives of people. No matter how much people may reject him, God offers his grace. The first fight. Go ahead of the fight. Uh, written by six named Moses cried for us. Just press interaction, if not history and creating, uh, people as people and rejected God and, uh, 11 now daughters of Genesis. So rip all of early here with you get to the life of and then with A.b.e. said Moses reveals how God comes to fix it one nation and that we he is clean. To choose to is very nice, where he would show his the Messiah who would redeem us as people. Moses, as he writes these first five books, writes in the land of having just land the left, the land of Egypt. He he lived with Pharaoh. Moses did. And and Moses was concerned about his. The story goes concerned about the nation of Israel. And he he goes out one day and he sees his people, the Hebrew. Hebrew slaves at the time in the land of Egypt being abused. And so Moses steps in, it tells us he kills an Egyptian garden and fear of his life and what fear may do. He runs and hides. And as he runs and hides, God give them back to the land of Egypt. After 40 years and he says, go before Pharaoh, and I want you to tell Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go.

And Moses writes this book of God interacting with Egypt and interacting with Israel in the midst of a broken culture. And it’s in the context of Egypt that we begin to really learn through the scriptures and through through God’s Word, and especially beginning with the books of Moses, how God desires to collide with us in our lives. When you look at the contexts of the nation of Egypt, give me a click here. I’m going to just not use this. The nation of Egypt. There is a several temples that exist within the land of Egypt. Several temples that they would refer to or look at as tabernacles, dwelling places of their gods, the land of Egypt. Archaeology tells us that they believed and worshiped in some 80 plus gods, 80 gods that they know of for sure, and they would build these temples as God’s dwelling place, where they would gather for worship. And you’ll notice as as they would walk into these temples, this specific temple is in the land of of Thebes, dedicated to the god Amun-ra, which is the most prominent and popular god that came to rise in the land of Egypt. Along the sides there are these goat heads, these goats that guard this place going into the temple for worship. The the goat head was the symbol for Amun-ra, who was the god that the people of Egypt worshiped? Just below the goat head you’ll see another figure.

That figure is Pharaoh. Pharaoh? During the time of Moses, there was a pharaoh who ruled, and no one knows for sure, according to history, which pharaoh would have been exactly? Some people debate as to the topic, but just for the generic idea of what we’ll communicate this morning, we’re going to call him Pharaoh. Pharaoh was honored as if he were a god going into these temples. And so when you walk in, you would see the figures of the gods they would worship, especially on the outside of the temple and below these figures of worship you would often see Pharaoh and Pharaoh was honored not only as a as a god in human form, but a connection between the people of Egypt and the god they would gather to worship. Pharaoh was seen as the connecting piece to keep the peace or the order in the life of the Egyptians, as he would minister in these temples before the gods. He was the liaison from the people to the gods. In fact, when the Egyptians would worship in their temples, they would write hieroglyphics on the walls like we read books today. The Egyptians dependent upon drawings or hieroglyphics. And it communicated to to them their spiritual truths that were important. So give me the next slide. When you look upon these temple walls, especially in the temple. I was just showing you.

This is a picture of Pharaoh and Pharaoh’s hand he’s handing to the God standing behind him what they would cause Maat or order. It was the symbol for order. And so Pharaoh was seen as the one who would offer order to the gods in order to please the gods, that the gods may continue to do well in the land of Egypt. And the Pharaoh couldn’t minister in all these temples. In fact, he very seldom would do things within these temples. But what Pharaoh would appoint were priests. And when the priests would minister in these temples, they would say in the services that they were doing these services and acts on behalf of Pharaoh at different points of the ceremony. In fact, the priests would even go out to the outer courts of the temple, and they would offer sacrifices of the lives of weak individuals. They would call them in order to to please the gods. Pharaoh was considered such a godlike figure in the land of Egypt. Go and give me the next click. When? When you would see Pharaoh travel, he would travel in an encampment that had an outer court and the outer court, if he were going to war, would contain all the people that were prepared for battle. And inside of the outer court was a tent of two rooms, and within the two rooms you see pictured in the larger room is slaves or priests that are coming before Pharaoh and worship of him.

And give me the next slide. If we were to blow up that little tent in the in the background, you would see that these individuals are kneeling down in worship. Now, let me tell you how we know what Pharaoh is in this picture. And in Egypt. Egyptian tradition. Whenever Pharaoh was described in writing, they would draw an oval shape to represent Pharaoh, and inside of that oval shape they would give an inscription as to what particular pharaoh they were talking about. And so this symbol was actually drawn for Ramses the second on one of the temples. And so inside of this inner, this inner holy place, they would look at people would gather to worship. And inside the inner room where Pharaoh stayed, you see the two winged creatures, which are the gods, Horus on either side of Pharaoh as he sat before all of the the people of Egypt that were a part of this gathering, and people would come and to worship him. Now, how did God feel about that? Well, the Bible tells us in Exodus chapter 32 and verse 17 describing the nation of Israel who just left this form of worship, being introduced to this form of worship. And the and the Egyptians who were engaged in this worship, they said they sacrificed to demons who were not God. To gods whom they have not known. New gods who came lately. Whom your fathers did not dread. I want to tell you this word gods, and this translation is the word for Elohim.

And the word Elohim within the Bible can mean anything representing an authority figure. Uh, it’s even used in Scripture to refer to men who operate as judges. They’re described as being Elohim, those who operate in as authority figures. And what God is saying in this passage of Scripture is that these worship ceremonies that were taking place in these temples, they were worship ceremonies taking place towards something. But they weren’t me. They weren’t god gods saying, but rather they were this. There were demons. They were gathering to worship demons, and they were demons that weren’t even. They weren’t even great demons. They were new, you know, they showed up even later. They’re not the eternal God. There’s these, these, these demons that came up and manipulated the people later. And even in the New Testament, the Bible says in Second Corinthians chapter ten. Give me, show me the passage. It says, what do I mean, then, that a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? I mean, should we be concerned about that? And so Paul says, no, but I say that the things with the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God. And I do not want you to become sharers in demons. Um, there’s a way that we choose to participate within life. That’s either God honoring or it isn’t. Let me let me just give you an illustration.

Uh, there was a. There was a lady who went from America to India. India has over 300 million gods. She walks into the front room of this house. And inside of this front room there was all of these idols standing and incense being burned in the very front room. When you walk into the home, you know what the family is about. They are worshipping idols. And she goes home from this trip and she tells her family, you know, that was just kind of ridiculous that they would have these statue figures and think that that’s what their God was about, and they would worship that and just found that unique. And then there was this lady that traveled from India, and she came to America, and she walks into the front home of America, and she looks inside and she she finds it so unique, the way that the very front room is set up. And she she goes back home and she tells her family, she, you know, it’s it’s really strange what they worship there when you walk into their front room, every chair, everything that that living room was about, all of it pointed to the television. We’re good within our culture. And masking our gods, right? Finding ways to. Make them acceptable. I’m not saying TV is bad. When God creates things. It’s what we do with it. The material that God creates is all moral. What you choose to do with it is where the importance lies, right? God created the earth, and the earth belongs to him, and therefore glory belongs to him.

But when we change the attitude of the worship to be directed towards something else, God says it belongs to demons. And I just want us to be aware. We see the word demons and we think, ooh, scary. You know, I don’t ever want to meet whatever that is. But I’ll tell you when when our interaction in this world is with something that’s of a demonic force. The Bible tells us in Second Corinthians ten that even Satan appears as an angel of light. Meaning if Satan came into this room, you’re not going to see him with red horns, red tail, and a pitchfork, right? That’s for Halloween. Well, don’t even dress like that. It’s not even funny. But Satan doesn’t appear that way. He appears as an angel of light. Satan wants us to believe that what he possesses is the truth. And when he shows up in the Garden of Eden, he doesn’t just present some sort of large lie, he just slightly twists the truth. When God created Satan, he made him the most beautiful angel out of all his creation. And when he showed up in the Garden of Eden, the Bible calls him a serpent. But I don’t think he necessarily had to be a physical serpent. I think the the nature of that text is describing the behavior of Satan.

In fact, that same word serpent can also be described in the Hebrew text as one who shines. So he’s shining in the beauty, acting as if he was wicked like a serpent. Adam and Eve, fooled by the beauty, embraces what it is. And the Bible tells us in first John chapter four and verse one, brothers believe not every spirit, because many false prophets go into the world, meaning there are spiritual feelings that you could have that could make you think they are God, but there are nothing other than demonic influence. What you choose to do in that moment. Could be God honoring. What does God do? The story tells us that when God goes back, or when Moses goes back into the land of Egypt, he goes before Pharaoh. And I’ll tell you the picture that we just painted of Pharaoh as being the representation before God, as being God himself, that the people are gathering to worship a man coming and challenging Pharaoh is just not something you do lightly. And Moses presents to Pharaoh. What’s going to end up being the ten plagues? And every plague that God brings on the land of Egypt is an assault against the gods that they worship. So much so that the last god, the one who comes to to take the firstborn of the lives of all the children in the land of Egypt, is an assault against every God that the land of Egypt worships.

Demonstrating himself as the God. And God collides with a broken culture. When God draws the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt, he tries to contextualize or he does contextualize their understanding of worship in order to communicate his truth to them. In fact, go and give me the next slide. When the nation of Israel are told to build a place of worship. God calls this the Tabernacle, or the place where God will dwell. And the symbolism to the tabernacle is very unique because it represents what the land of Egypt, the people of Egypt, would do when Pharaoh would travel, and the nation of Israel for the next 40 years will be wandering through the wilderness, traveling, and they create an outer court. And inside of the outer court they place a tent, and in the tent there are two rooms, and in the first room the priests go in to minister before God, offering things to him. And in the inner court there is the ark of the covenant, and on the ark of the covenant are angels with wings that surround the ark. But instead of the image of Pharaoh being placed there, whom God has just crushed, God removes the idols and allows his presence to dwell there. God tabernacles with his people. God shows us the way that he chooses to work within our culture. He doesn’t just reject us and shove us aside. He doesn’t just allow us to embrace what’s incorrect.

He works within our cultural context to communicate his truth or his truth to us as people. He removes the idols and he shows himself. Christmas can be like that. The point of Christmas is about God colliding with us in our cultural context. That God would tabernacle with us. And to refuse to embrace the message of what Christmas is about is to set up the idols of everything that Christmas represents culturally to us as people, void of the God in which it was intended to communicate. And God uses this cultural context to communicate to us as people that what he desires to do is dwell among us and remove all of our idolatry. That as we go through our lives, we can see the glory of who he is. In fact, he says it in Exodus 25. Give me the slide tear says next is 25 eight. Let them construct a sanctuary for me, that I may dwell among them. In. The beauty of this story is that when you look at what God did with people of Moses, he created a worship context for them. They could understand. But instead of the false gods, he puts himself there as the one true God that they can continue to worship. But not only does does the the, the, the tabernacle show them how to worship this one true God, the Tabernacle. Its purpose was to point to everything that Jesus would fulfill for us as people.

In fact, just as God collided with the Egyptian culture. So Jesus personally collided into our culture by becoming flesh for us. Now, I’ll tell you this the most important event in all of human history by far is the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. But you can’t have the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Without the coming of Jesus. God becomes physical. Personal. And God collides with mankind because we all need an encounter with him. And so when you read John chapter one and verse 14, it says this, and the word became flesh. The word’s referring to Jesus. And dwelt among us. That word dwelt literally means tabernacle in the Greek. Jesus became flesh and tabernacled among us, and we saw his glory, the glory of the only begotten from the father, full of grace and truth. And it’s when Jesus arrives that Jesus tells us, do you know the the tabernacle that I created as illustration of what God would do? Well that’s me. I’m coming to fulfill it. In fact, Jesus said in John 219, destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. In Matthew 12 six I tell you something greater than the temple is here. John referred to Jesus and John the Baptist in John chapter one and verse 29. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Jesus in John 14 I am the way, the truth, and the life. When they would walk into the temple, the outer court, the room into that was considered the doorway was considered the way and into the holy place where the priest would worship that was considered the truth, and into the Holy of Holies.

That was the life. Jesus at a temple ceremony in Israel. They had a ceremony where during this festival they would go and take these lights, these torches, and they would go around the entire temple and light up the outside of the temple with these torches. In the middle of the ceremony, Jesus stands up before all of the people. He says, I am the light of the world. And this Christ died on the cross. The Bible tells us the veil was torn. And when that veil was torn. It’s in three of the four Gospels. It’s a symbol that the Spirit of God was no longer present within the tabernacle or temple. But now that Christ has become the sacrifice, his spirit would now dwell within his people. All of it. The tabernacle in the beginning was to point to Christ. That Christ may come to dwell among us and die for our sins. That in dying for our sins, God would finally reconcile his people back to him and the reason for which he came. That we could have a collision with God. An encounter with him. That would change our lives. So much so that as we trust in what Christ has done for all of eternity, we rejoice in the presence of God.

Everything within the temple represented Jesus. And when you would walk into the temple, the only things that took place within this temple happened around these objects. You would walk into the inner court. There was the altar. The sacrifice would take place for the lamb of the Passover especially would go there. And so you would walk into the temple. There would be the sacrificial place symbolizing Jesus would be the sacrifice. And you would walk behind the that that altar of sacrifice. And there was the laver where you would cleanse yourself, reflecting of the forgiveness that God would give ultimately, that Christ bring by brought by giving his life for you. And you would go to into the holy place as a priest. And there was the the table of showbread. And that’s where Jesus was represented as the word of life. And he communicates life to us in His word. And on the left was the candle stand. And Jesus is the light of the world. And he gave us his spirit, that his spirit may, may burn with light within us. And before the the mercy seat or the ark of the covenant was the table of incense. And because of Jesus’s sacrifice, we can now become before God’s very presence, offering ourselves before him and offering prayer of praise before our Lord. And upon that ark of the covenant, the blood of an animal was shed, and Jesus being the ultimate that was shed for our sins, that we could be reconciled to God.

All of what happened in this two room temple. Was for Christ. So that God could collide with you. And that we could worship him. God’s point in the temple. What’s the point of his coming that us people and seeing his coming would trust in him that you would become his tabernacle? So the Bible tells us in first Corinthians 316 says, that’s not it. Click on. Is it in there? First Corinthians 316. One more. Do you not know? I’ll just read it to you. Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells within you? The Bible tells us to those that have trusted in Christ in first Corinthians 316, that you are the temple of God, and just as the Spirit of God dwelled within the tabernacle, now his presence is within you. Peter and first Peter in chapter two and Ephesians chapter two described it the same way. Listen the way Peter says it, as you come to know him. The living Stone talking about Jesus, rejected by men, but chosen by God and precious to him. You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. And what he’s saying to us is, do you remember when the tabernacle was built and only the priests could go into the holy place? Well, now everyone who’s put their faith in Christ are now priests.

God is not gender biased in this that men, women, you hold the priesthood in Christ coming before his presence. And the Bible describes in first Peter two four that you are living stones, meaning before. Yes, God built this temple building, but now God is building all of us into the temple that he desires. We are his people. We are his tabernacle. He dwells within you. And so the question then becomes for us as people. As God tabernacles with you. How can you bring Jesus into this world? And to your family. How can you use Christmas? For what God intends, rather than void of the goodness for which God created it or God allowed it. What do we do? This was a day for us to honor in Christ. Well, there are three ways that we can respond to our culture like God did. We could reject Christmas altogether because of paganus that’s developed within it. We can just embrace all of the seasonal greetings that come along with Christmas and reject God. Or we can redeem it. Being the tabernacle of God, we can use it for his glory as he intends. The Christmas is all about relating God relating to us so that we can encounter him. And so if we as people walk away from Christmas without reaching out to the Lord as he has brought himself near to you.

Christmas is a fail. Because Christmas is a reflection of his glory. In the early church when the Christmas holiday was celebrated. You should probably know that the Christmas tradition wasn’t even started until the fourth century. In fact, most people don’t even know when Jesus was born, and I would say the one that ones that do had a lucky guess. When you read early church history, there’s a leaning towards the end of December, beginning of January as Jesus’s possible birth date. But some people reject that because when you read the Christmas story, you see that the shepherds are outside just hanging out with the sheep at night, and the shepherds tended to walk with their sheep. But when it was when it was cold and winter outside, they tended to find some some solace and some sort of indoors. But but on that night they’re outside and the angel appears. And so some people look at that story and they tend to think, well, Jesus probably wasn’t born in the winter, but the reason they don’t know when Jesus was necessarily born is because when someone was born, their their birth date was not a day that was celebrated. Birth dates were not done in the first few centuries. What they honored was death. When a saint died who followed Christ. That to them was worthy of celebration. Because it was a life that was well lived for the Lord. And so they would honor and celebrate an individual who gave themselves for Christ.

When it comes to Jesus’s birthday, the history records anywhere from the end of November to the end of May that people would pinpoint to a time that Christ would have possibly been born. But here’s what Christmas began. The tendency, or the thought of the majority, was that it happened around this time of year that that Jesus was born. But as as more and more people came to know Christ, there were individuals in the Roman Empire that were coming from pagan backgrounds into this new relationship with Christ. And their pagan backgrounds. Almost all of the pagan civilizations during that time had some some sort of celebration where they would honor the winter solstice and dedicate it to whatever God it belonged to. And around 336 AD, a Christian leader comes along and thinks, you know what? We don’t have a day like that for Jesus. And more than anything, every day belongs to Jesus. And so let’s just create a celebration to honor Christ. And so, rather than the temptation of those who come out of the pagan background to go back and to continue to worship in these holidays towards a God that is not real, that may, may be demonic. Her is demonic. The Ottoman Christ in Christmas. And in our culture today. Go ahead and tear and give me the last click. We have a lot of symbols in Christmas. Can I tell you something? You can look at these symbols and use them according to American cultural tradition.

Or you can look at these symbols and realize that these symbols started in history. Because all of them were intended to point to Christ. From the angel you put on your tree. To the star that you may love. That goes on your Christmas tree. To the lights, to the candy cane, to the presents, to Santa Claus. All of them have tradition in Christ. I just want you to know, Santa Claus was a part of the Nicene Creed in early church history, an important document that came into existence around the fourth century, the beginning of the fourth century. Santa Claus spent time in jail because of his faith in Christ. Santa is not Satan with the words rearranged. The reason we call them Santa Claus today. His name was Saint Nicholas, as they would refer to in history. When his tradition got to the Dutch people, they called him Sinterklaas for Saint Nicholas. And when the Dutch brought it to America, we turned Sinterklaas into Santa Claus. But he loved to hear. And he sought to honor them with his life. And the stories and the traditions that we have in in Christmas. Are intended to point people to Jesus. Not become traditions in themselves. When traditions become traditions for the sake of traditions, we void them of God. Christmas. I was all about a collision. Christmas is all about a tabernacle. God created a tabernacle.

Point to Jesus. Jesus gave his life that he made tabernacle in you. But in Tabernacling in you, you may point others to him. To take a holiday like Christmas, and not to use it for the opportunity that it’s been given to us to honor and glorify God. As to dishonor the God who came to tabernacle among us. I’ll say all that to say. Now, don’t make yourself crazy over that. But just use it. Every year. As a church family, we always print a book that explains the traditions of Christian history as it relates to Christmas, and we put that book on our information table outside. Some of the stories are easier for younger kids to pick up, and some are more arbitrary concepts for some older, older children or even the adults to learn about. Here’s my encouragement to you. We have this holiday to redeem our culture. To communicate a truth that’s very important to our families and the people around us. We’ll have to make a big deal about it. When your kids running by. And once that candy came, it’s an opportunity for you as a parent. To bring the presence of God into your family. To communicate the truth of what Jesus is about. That the collision that God brought into our life doesn’t end with us. Well, it’s a collision that we bring into the rest of our Christmas season, that we use it for what God desires. Every one of the pictures on the screen have something to do with Christ, and more than a behavior change, more than a feel good Christmas season.

What we need as peoples, an encounter with the living God we need reminded of how much Jesus cares for us. Now Psalm 4610 says, we need to just pause within our heart and be still and know that He is God. And the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season in our lives, it’s easy to not just take time and spend with your kids around the Christmas tree or whatever you might have, and just share the significance of why we do what we do on Christmas. That when they look at this holiday, they don’t think it’s all about me and getting one on one. With the grace of God who’s come into our lives, that we may encounter him. Its encouragement this morning as a church family, develop tradition in your family. Not a tradition. That’s tradition for the sake of tradition. But a tradition that your family knows. It just points them to Jesus that every time they think about a candy cane or a star on top of the tree, which you’ll grab the book in a minute and read about those things. They think about Jesus. And the most important gift that they’ve ever received in his life. Coming to Earth and encountering them, that they may spend eternity with him because of the life that he has given on their behalf, as they trust in what Christ has done.

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