Saturday, December 17, 2016

Ponder in Your Heart

Imagine. Ordinary, monotonous days. Did you ever wonder what it was like to be a shepherd on the night that Jesus was born? 
            You would have been out in the countryside somewhere;     
            the stars were probably out.
You were watching over your sheep, and the night was oh, so quiet.
            Imagine. Just an ordinary evening.

When all of a sudden an angel of the Lord appeared and the glory of the Lord shone round about. This had never happened before. So spectacular was this sight that you were frightened out of your skin. But the angel told you not to be afraid because he brought good news of a Savior being born. That ordinary day turned into a spectacular evening and a great multitude joined the angel praising God. Then they were gone.

You looked at your shepherd friends;
          maybe you scratched your head;
            you might have shrugged your shoulders,
            wondering what your friends thought. In an instant you knew.
You grabbed your shepherd’s hook and hurried off to Bethlehem to see this great event for yourself, and you found Mary and Joseph and the baby. You witnessed the birth of the Savior.

This night was so special, so unusual, you told everyone you saw of the sights and the message. Then, you went back to your sheep,
            back to the countryside, back to the quiet.
            Nothing more happened.
            Day after day, more ordinary days.

But that one ordinary day had turned into a night of fulfilled prophecy and spectacular heavenly sights – and then, nothing. Life went on, one day after another.

Was it the same for Mary and Joseph? In the midst of the census and birth of the Son, their lives were changed forever, but most days were just ordinary days. Life moved along – but Luke tells us in his gospel that Mary pondered these things in her heart.
            In fact, he mentions it twice in his gospel.
            Why did he repeat this?
            Do you suppose he wanted to be sure these Jewish people noticed it?
            Why would that be important?

These words may have meant more to the Jews at that time than we realize. Do you suppose they remembered Daniel 7:28 – “This is the end of the matter. I, Daniel, was deeply troubled by my thoughts, and my face turned pale: but I kept the matter to myself” - in my heart.
            Why would Luke allude to this verse?

Daniel had just received a vision of four empires; then he told of one like the Son of Man coming and receiving an everlasting kingdom.
            The verse right before the one Luke alludes to says, “Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.”

Daniel and the Israelites waited – one ordinary day after another, God was silent for more than 400 years. Then, Jesus was born;
            the shepherds saw the angel and heard the promise of a Savior.
            And then, they settled back into one ordinary day after another.

More years passed and that baby grew and emerged from that ordinary life and changed the world forever.
            Three short years He walked the countryside,
            taught the people,
            and worked His miracles.

These were not ordinary days. After 400 years, God was speaking to the people again; but they crucified this Jesus and He was gone.
             Life went on – but it was different this time. Life would never be the same. God had returned to His people and they were changed.

Jesus’ birth was a partial fulfilling of Daniel’s prophecy.
            Maybe Luke’s reference to Mary keeping those events in her heart was meant to remind us of Daniel keeping the matter in his heart and the prophecy of the kingdom that was to follow.
Maybe it was to assure us that all those prophecies will be fulfilled - in time.

Life seems to go on and on. Many ordinary days tied together, but God is still working His plan, marching through time in these ordinary days. How blessed the Jews must have been to understand the full meaning of Luke’s words. May we likewise understand His Word to as we ponder these things in our hearts.

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