A Prophetic Christmas

What are you planning to give people this Christmas?

Did you buy them the latest or greatest — ?

Maybe you’re a person that thinks of gift ideas so easily that this time of year is no problem for you.

Maybe you have no idea what you can give people, and so Christmas is a time where you worry about over/under gifting.

How about a word of prophecy?

Perhaps you hear this word and think of the Old Testament guys and gals who predicted (accurately and without fail) future events concerning God’s people and God’s coming Messiah (Micah 4.8, 5.2, Isaiah9.2-7 for example). Let’s be clear: that is not what we are talking about. That ministry is no more.

However, we do read in 1 Corinthians 14.3 that those who speak a word of prophecy speak to someone for their upbuilding, their encouragement, or they consolation.

On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.

In contrast (on the other hand) to the gift of tongues which is personal and private (1 Corinthians 14.2, 5b, 6, 9, 19), prophecy is for others, prophecy is using your words in accordance with God’s Word to build people up, encourage people, and to console people.

So, this Christmas season, many people are so concerned with many things. Be a person who gives a word of prophecy, a word of upbuilding, a word of encouragement, a word of consolation. Second only to the unmatchable gift of God’s expressed love to you in the person of Jesus, I’m not sure there is anything more we can give people than love, upbuilding, encouragement, and consolation. 

Christmas Gifts

As a kid I was always excited to see what gifts would be waiting for me on Christmas morning, waiting to see what cool new stuff I could play with, or, at least, pretend to be excited about until I found something I really really wanted…encyclopaedia and shower gel, awesome…where’s the toys, the ball!

Then, when we saw my grandparents the next day, the whole thing would repeat; soap, wow, thanks Grandma, socks, awesome, thanks Grandad, super practical, but where is the new computer game?

But, little did I know, that those gifts which might have looked a little dull to me as a young boy were probably the most practical and useful gifts that were coming my way that particular Christmas. I didn’t know why I’d need a new set of compasses and rulers for school, or a pair of summer shorts when it was 2 degrees outside (that’s celsius, too) but someone did, didn’t they, otherwise they wouldn’t have bought them for me.

Think of the gifts that Jesus received from the wise men (Matthew 2.1-12); Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. These gifts might have seen a little odd, but, they had a very practical purpose. 

Last time I checked, one ounce of gold cost around BD556, and in Jesus’ time, it would have been even more valuable.  

The spices (frankincense and myrrh) were also very valuable, and at this time, may have even been as costly as gold in terms of weight. So, very practical gifts. The family could have sold them and lived off the money. But, there is also a great deal of spiritual symbolism in the gifts offered.

What did these gifts represent symbolically,

prophetically, for the future?

Gold is associated with royalty and deity in the Bible, regular folks like you and me don’t have much gold hanging around at home (I don’t anyway) and it was a gift given to kings around the time of Christ’s birth. The wise men’s first gift of gold symbolised Jesus’ role as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, God of gods. Not only did the gold represent Christ’s deity, it also represented his Kingship. Gold is often associated with kingship and ruling authority in the scriptures.

Jesus Christ was, is, and always will be, fully God. 

After the resurrection Thomas  declared,

“My Lord and My God”

John 20:28

Frankincense was a type of incense burned as a sacrifice and used by priests during services of worship around the time of Christ’s birth. 

Frankincense is a strong smelling resin that you get from the bark on a certain species of tree. The most popular use of frankincense in the Bible was the burning of incense by the priests, so, the wise men’s gift of frankincense symbolised Jesus’ priesthood

In Exodus 30.34-36, God gave specific instructions for a special blend of incense to be burned exclusively by the priest.

34 The Lord said to Moses, “Take sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum, sweet spices with pure frankincense (of each shall there be an equal part), 35 and make an incense blended as by the perfumer, seasoned with salt, pure and holy. 36 You shall beat some of it very small, and put part of it before the testimony in the tent of meeting where I shall meet with you. It shall be most holy for you.

The frankincense that the wise men gave to Christ symbolized His priesthood. The Bible plainly teaches that Christ is our High Priest (Hebrews 4.14-16). 

Myrrh is a gum-like resin, similar to frankincense, and it comes from a bushy tree.

Myrrh smells good, and it had many uses in Biblical times. Myrrh is most frequently associated, however, with suffering and death. It was often used as an embalming fluid since the strong smell would help mask the stench of a decaying body. At the death of Jesus we read this,

Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight.

John 19.39

The wise men’s gift of myrrh prophetically signified that Jesus was born to suffer and die. The gift of myrrh symbolised the ultimate purpose that Jesus would fulfil, His ministry, His mission here on Earth.

So, these were not random gifts; the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh carried prophetic meanings, they meant something very practical now, but, they were really gifts for the future, symbolising Jesus’ roles as a king, priest and sacrificial saviour

The wise men travelled far to give Jesus gifts.

  • They gave Him a gift of gold that symbolized his kingship and deity. 
  • They gave Him some frankincense that symbolised His priesthood, 
  • They gave Him some myrrh that symbolised His suffering and death, for us. 

Even before they set off, before they prophetically picked out His gifts, before they put them in a nice gift bag with a tag, ‘To Jesus love Magi’, there was an even better gift given. In the ultimate expression of His love for you, God gave His creation the gift of Jesus incarnate.

He is the gift of a clean slate before God, He is the gift of reconciliation, He is the gift of eternal life, He is the gift of the opportunity to have a right relationship with God. He is the gift of forgiveness from our sins.

As with my socks and shower gel, He knew that we needed that gift, even before we did.

All we have to do is take the gift. 

Will you take it? Have you taken it?

Will you take the free gift of salvation that Christ wants to give you right now? 

I pray you do, now, tomorrow, and every day.

Revelation 17.7-14 – Eight to one

Today, rather kindly, and with a prophetic foresight far beyond our tiny human comprehension, the angel explains to John the mystery of the woman, and of the beast. No doubt this was so John could communicate it to others, remember, Revelation is apocalyptic in nature, which, by very definition means revealing, not hidden.

7 But the angel said to me,

“Why do you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman, and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns that carries her. 8 The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come. 9 This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; 10 they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while. 11 As for the beast that was and is not, it is an eighth but it belongs to the seven, and it goes to destruction. 12 And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast. 13 These are of one mind, and they hand over their power and authority to the beast. 14 They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.”

Verse 8 tells us that the beast is the beast of 13.1 (And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads.). Those who do not believe in Jesus marvel at the beast, the Antichrist, because he will be a winner, attractive, seeking to unite people with his universal, international character. He uses religion to achieve his purposes, allying with the prostitute until he gets what he wants.

Verse 9 is as perplexing as there are theories to explain it; the woman is sat on the seven mountains which are the seven heads of the beast. They are not the seven hills of Rome, they could be kings and kingdoms, they could be governments…either way, the Bible does not say explicitly so at best we can have an educated guess. Kings and kingdoms does seem to fit with what the angel goes on to say in verse 10, they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while. If we take the major empires of the world at John’s time starting with Egypt, then Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persian, Greek, then Rome would be the one that is, and the other that has not yet come would be the ‘New Rome’ of the Antichrist. A ten nation confedration gets together and basically gives their power to the beast (And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast. 13 These are of one mind, and they hand over their power and authority to the beast.), who then all club together for a war on the Lamb.

Throughout all this then, throughout all this prophetic planning, throughout the mind-blowing detail and accuracy (of which we have barely scratched the surface here), we see one thing remain constant; the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.

No matter how complex things get, no matter the size of the army raised against Him, no matter how devious and dispicable the enemy, the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of Kings.

This must surely be where we draw strength from whilst we bear the burdens of life; we carry the cross whilst awaiting a crown, and every single thing we read about His coming again should fill us with an inextinguishable hope and confidence.

Jesus fulfilled upwards of 350 Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament perfectly.

For every prophecy of His first coming, there are 8 of His second coming and we have no doubt He will fulfil them perfectly, too.