A Child Is Born To Us

Luke 2:1-7

At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

Isaiah 9:1-7

Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory.

The people who walk in darkness
    will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness,
    a light will shine.
You will enlarge the nation of Israel,
    and its people will rejoice.
They will rejoice before you
    as people rejoice at the harvest
    and like warriors dividing the plunder.
For you will break the yoke of their slavery
    and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders.
You will break the oppressor’s rod,
    just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian.
The boots of the warrior
    and the uniforms bloodstained by war
will all be burned.
    They will be fuel for the fire.

For a child is born to us,
    a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
    And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His government and its peace
    will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David
    for all eternity.
The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies
    will make this happen!

Reflection

The morning has come. Jesus is alive. The Word that existed from the beginning has arrived on earth in the humble form of a baby. All of creation waiting from the beginning of time in groaning expectation for the fulfilment of the promise, for God to bring about the Light, the true Light, and dispel the darkness once and for all.

God is a God of the promise. Even in the midst of struggle and trial God is working out the glory of his love in ways we can’t even comprehend. Over generations his love was revealed again and again to the Israelites, in works of magnificence, splitting seas and defeating armies, but also in works of intimacy and grace. In the loving promise of a night sky. In the visitation of Jacob’s dream. In the humble obedience of Rahab. In the yearnings and prayers and heartfelt love of the psalmists and prophets. Our God is the God of untold galaxies spinning through the infinite reaches of the universe. He is also a God of intimate grace, calling to us personally with the song of his love.

Praise God for this day of days – the day when the fate of the world was changed forever. From this day the stars of the descendants of Abraham would burst forth beyond the Israelite nation and into all the nations of the earth. For unto us a Child is born.

Prayer:

Praise God for his limitless wonder, his incomparable grace and his perfect love made real in the person of Jesus Christ.

That Night

Luke 2:8-20

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,
    and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

Reflection

So we come to the night of the arrival of the Messiah, a moment foretold from the first instant of Creation, when the Spirit of God hovered above the darkness, ready to unleash the glory of his wonder across the heavens. The promise of God sustained through generation after generation of struggle and triumph finds its final completion in the birth of Jesus Christ, when the incomprehensible majesty of a vast creative force collides with the intimacy and fragility of our human weakness. Such love is beyond our understanding.

In the midst of a dark night on the fields, shepherds were faithfully carrying out their humble work when their world was transformed by the sudden explosion of God’s glory. Insignificant as they were, God chose these simple workers to witness a breathtaking display of his majesty, and to become part of the story of the Messiah come to earth. The “radiance of the Lord’s glory” surrounded them as an angel told them of the birth of the Saviour they’d been waiting for. And then the sky split open with the vast host of heaven’s armies praising the God of the universe.

Just like the other men and women we have read about through the history of God’s people, the shepherds honour God by simply obeying. After witnessing the truth of the angel’s declaration, they become unstoppable witnesses of the arrival of Jesus, telling everyone about what they had seen. What other response is there to the manifest presence of God’s salvation than to worship him and proclaim his glory to the world.

Prayer:

Praise God for his mercy, his wonder, his glory, his magnificence and his perfect grace. Marvel at the beauty of his greatness and then at such divine love that would bring us into the story of his redemption. O Night Divine! When Christ was born.

The Throne of His Ancestor David

Matthew 1:1-17

This is a record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah, a descendant of David and of Abraham:

Abraham was the father of Isaac.
Isaac was the father of Jacob.
Jacob was the father of Judah and his brothers.
Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah (whose mother was Tamar).
Perez was the father of Hezron.
Hezron was the father of Ram.
Ram was the father of Amminadab.
Amminadab was the father of Nahshon.
Nahshon was the father of Salmon.
Salmon was the father of Boaz (whose mother was Rahab).
Boaz was the father of Obed (whose mother was Ruth).
Obed was the father of Jesse.
Jesse was the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon (whose mother was Bathsheba, the widow of Uriah).
Solomon was the father of Rehoboam.
Rehoboam was the father of Abijah.
Abijah was the father of Asa,
Asa was the father of Jehoshaphat.
Jehoshaphat was the father of Jehoram.
Jehoram was the father of Uzziah.
Uzziah was the father of Jotham.
Jotham was the father of Ahaz.
Ahaz was the father of Hezekiah.
10 Hezekiah was the father of Manasseh.
Manasseh was the father of Amon.
Amon was the father of Josiah.
11 Josiah was the father of Jehoiachin and his brothers (born at the time of the exile to Babylon).
12 After the Babylonian exile:
Jehoiachin was the father of Shealtiel.
Shealtiel was the father of Zerubbabel.
13 Zerubbabel was the father of Abiud.
Abiud was the father of Eliakim.
Eliakim was the father of Azor.
14 Azor was the father of Zadok.
Zadok was the father of Akim.
Akim was the father of Eliud.
15 Eliud was the father of Eleazar.
Eleazar was the father of Matthan.
Matthan was the father of Jacob.
16 Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.
Mary gave birth to Jesus, who is called the Messiah.

17 All those listed above include fourteen generations from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the Babylonian exile, and fourteen from the Babylonian exile to the Messiah.

Reflection

The book of Matthew opens with a long passage of lineage in the vein of the Pentateuch. But this lineage is not like any other. These are the ancestors of Jesus Christ. Through these verses Matthew gives us a condensed story of the journey of the Israelite nation, and as we read through we recognise name after name.

The story begins with Abraham, his son Isaac and then the promise passed on to Jacob. Several generations later we recognise Rahab, the mother of Boaz. Boaz marries Ruth to become the grandfather of Jesse, whose youngest son David becomes the king of Israel by which all others will be compared. On goes the list through Solomon, the lineage of the kings, the generations that experienced exile in Babylon and then the return to Jerusalem. Finally we see another Jacob, whose son Joseph becomes the husband of Mary and father of Jesus. Here are the stars exploding across the galaxies in endless pursuit of the promise of God.

At the end of the lineage Matthew makes note of the pattern of numbers – fourteen generations from the promise of Abraham to the anointing of David, the root of hope. Fourteen from David to the fall of exile. Fourteen from exile to the coming of the ultimate fulfilment of God’s promise.

Throughout generations of endurance and struggle and trial, God’s protection and guidance never wavered. His hope remained firm. His promise remained secure. Here is God working out the story of his ultimate redemption, come to earth in the form of Jesus Christ.

Prayer:

Wonder at the course of events that has brought you to this place in your life and thank God for his hand of guidance and blessing over all. Then trust him with the future unfolding of his perfect plan.

We Saw His Star As It Rose

Matthew 2:1-12

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,“Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”

King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”

“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote:

‘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.’”

Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!”

After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!11 They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

12 When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.

Reflection

On the night of Jesus’ birth a confluence of cosmic and earthly events drew together to form a tapestry of astonishing beauty, telling the story of divine glory and the salvation of God come to earth in the form of a baby. Over the preceding days the night sky served as a beacon of summons, a messenger of hope to three wise men from the East. God speaks to these men of distant land and faith through the most ancient of his creations – the stars.

Here is another example of the widening scope of God’s salvation. In this story we see the significance of a single star guiding the worship of three strangers, but these strangers also find themselves among the multitude of stars promised to Abraham. Though they aren’t of earthly bloodline, they become descendants of the story of God through the ages.

Again we see a story of people distant from God’s nation and yet called into his story because their hearts were open to his voice. And when they reach their destination after many days and many miles, they have no other response to the work of God’s hand than to bow down and worship the new King. 

God appears to them again on another night in another dream, warning them of Herod’s plan and redirecting their path, and again they follow, demonstrating their complete trust in his voice. God’s word is mighty to bring about wonders of worship and salvation, and the constant provision of his plan.

Prayer:

Open your heart to the voice of God calling you to places unknown, so that when you arrive at his destination, you too will be filled with joy and worship.

At Midnight

Matthew 25:1-13

“Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

“At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’

“All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’

“But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’

10 “But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked.11 Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’

12 “But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’

13 “So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.”

Reflection

As we approach the night of the arrival of Jesus the Messiah we take a moment to think about that final night when He will return again. In this parable we see the return of Jesus as a mystery of great wonder occurring under the cover of night. Just as the Israelites were brought out of captivity on a night of marvels and redemption, so Jesus will call out His people, separating them from the world as the Israelites were separated from the Egyptians.

We feel the urgency of Jesus’ words as an exhortation to be ready – to ensure our hearts are connected to His in the same way as we have seen in these stories of God’s deliverance. Throughout His ministry on earth Jesus passionately demonstrated unconditional love, forgiveness, and righteousness through an open heart to God, not through the letter of the law. He was the embodiment of the truth that the law kills but the Spirit brings life.

The five brides in this story who are ready for the Bridegroom are shown as having a double portion of oil – in their time of waiting they have purposed their hearts to remain full of the anointing oil, full of the presence of God, full of the intimacy of His love. They will not miss this moment for anything. And just like Abraham, Jacob, Rahab, David and Mary before them, imperfect as they are, on this night of wonder they are caught up into the story of God’s redemption.

Prayer:

Open your heart to the intimacy and love of Jesus. Take a moment to let your heart be filled by His oil and by the life-sustaining passion of His love for you.

You Believed That The Lord Would Do What He Said

Luke 1:26-45

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”

29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.30 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God!31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”

35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. 36 What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. 37 For the word of God will never fail.”

38 Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.

39 A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town 40 where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

42 Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. 43 Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? 44 When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. 45 You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”

Reflection

Just as God brought back the exiles from Babylon, so we come to the fulfilment of the second and final redemption foretold by Jeremiah and the prophets – the arrival of the Messiah on earth. Again we witness God weaving into his story a person of little consequence but of great heart. Mary is called a woman favoured by God, and through this encounter she demonstrates her complete submission to his plan and her trust in his love by accepting the words of his messenger despite their startling nature.

This is the moment of the consummation of Israel’s hope and deliverance. Here is a king who will not only lead his people in righteousness for a brief generation, but who will change the course of history by establishing a throne that will never end. We see the evidence of God’s unshakable covenant – as unshakable as his covenant with the night and day.

With God, anything is possible. He will bring life where there is none, causing two women, one virgin, one barren, to bear the fruits of complete revelation. This is the God that breathed our human life into being, who set the stars in motion as a demonstration of his glory, who established the partnership of night and day and formed the earth with his hand. Mary’s obedience here is like that of the people who have come before her, ordinary people brought into extraordinary circumstances because of their trust in God’s greatness and his promise. From this moment, the fate of the world is transformed.

Prayer:

Consider the moments in your life when God has asked you to trust him completely and remember the astonishing ways he has come through for you before. Trust him as he leads you on into new places of revelation.

Nevertheless

Psalm 74:12-17

You, O God, are my king from ages past,
    bringing salvation to the earth.
13 You split the sea by your strength
    and smashed the heads of the sea monsters.
14 You crushed the heads of Leviathan
    and let the desert animals eat him.
15 You caused the springs and streams to gush forth,
    and you dried up rivers that never run dry.
16 Both day and night belong to you;
    you made the starlight and the sun.
17 You set the boundaries of the earth,
    and you made both summer and winter.

Jeremiah 33:6-22

“Nevertheless, the time will come when I will heal Jerusalem’s wounds and give it prosperity and true peace. I will restore the fortunes of Judah and Israel and rebuild their towns. I will cleanse them of their sins against me and forgive all their sins of rebellion. Then this city will bring me joy, glory, and honor before all the nations of the earth! The people of the world will see all the good I do for my people, and they will tremble with awe at the peace and prosperity I provide for them.

10 “This is what the Lord says: You have said, ‘This is a desolate land where people and animals have all disappeared.’ Yet in the empty streets of Jerusalem and Judah’s other towns, there will be heard once more 11 the sounds of joy and laughter. The joyful voices of bridegrooms and brides will be heard again, along with the joyous songs of people bringing thanksgiving offerings to the Lord. They will sing,

‘Give thanks to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
    for the Lord is good.
    His faithful love endures forever!’

For I will restore the prosperity of this land to what it was in the past, says the Lord.

12 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: This land—though it is now desolate and has no people and animals—will once more have pastures where shepherds can lead their flocks. 13 Once again shepherds will count their flocks in the towns of the hill country, the foothills of Judah, the Negev, the land of Benjamin, the vicinity of Jerusalem, and all the towns of Judah. I, the Lord, have spoken!

14 “The day will come, says the Lord, when I will do for Israel and Judah all the good things I have promised them.

15 “In those days and at that time
    I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line.
    He will do what is just and right throughout the land.
16 In that day Judah will be saved,
    and Jerusalem will live in safety.
And this will be its name:
    ‘The Lord Is Our Righteousness.’

17 For this is what the Lord says: David will have a descendant sitting on the throne of Israel forever. 18 And there will always be Levitical priests to offer burnt offerings and grain offerings and sacrifices to me.”

19 Then this message came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 20 “This is what the Lord says: If you can break my covenant with the day and the night so that one does not follow the other, 21 only then will my covenant with my servant David be broken. Only then will he no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne. The same is true for my covenant with the Levitical priests who minister before me.22 And as the stars of the sky cannot be counted and the sand on the seashore cannot be measured, so I will multiply the descendants of my servant David and the Levites who minister before me.”

Reflection

Though David and Solomon, and many who came after, were considered righteous kings, the progressing line of Israel’s rulers was marked by division, betrayal and unrepented sin. Jeremiah’s writings are weighted both with the awe of a wondrous and loving God, but also with the impending woe of a nation abandoned to its consequences. As foretold by Jeremiah and other prophets, the Israelites are eventually overthrown and taken as captive exiles to Babylon.

In the midst of Jeremiah’s warnings of the tragedy about to unfold, sections of astonishing victory, redemption and triumph emerge. At this terrible moment of divine justice God’s hope is yet alive. We are shown the promise of the redemption to come beyond the struggle – a glimpse of a God who is both perfectly righteous and perfectly gracious. These portions tell of a return to the homeland, of a coming day of restoration and mercy. Jeremiah is articulating both the eventual return of the exiles to Jerusalem, and also the ultimate redemption in the form of the Messiah, who will restore not only his own people but all the nations of the world.

This is the ultimate plan of God’s redemption. Not the gold and silver, land and vineyards, cities and towns that were lost, but the saving grace of a loving Son becoming the sacrifice for a fallen world. Jesus is the “righteous descendent of King David’s line” who will bring truth and justice to his people. In this promise God reinforces the ultimate faithfulness of his covenant by comparing it to the progression of night and day, the foundational, unshakable creative moment of the birthing of our universe, set in motion thousands of years before. Again he restates his promise given to Abraham generations earlier, of the uncountable multitude of descendants, as numerous as the stars. He is the God of the promise.

Prayer:

 There is no situation beyond the redemption of God. No heart too hard, no sin too great, no burden too heavy. Just as God’s promises to the Israelites prove true again and again, so his promises to you will never fail.

When I Wake Up, You Are Still With Me

Psalm 139:1-18

O Lord, you have examined my heart
    and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
    and when I rest at home.
    You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
    even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too great for me to understand!

I can never escape from your Spirit!
    I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
    if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
    if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    and your strength will support me.
11 I could ask the darkness to hide me
    and the light around me to become night—
12     but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
    Darkness and light are the same to you.

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.

17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
    They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them;
    they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
    you are still with me!

Reflection

Decades after David is first anointed by Samuel as the future king of Israel, the time finally arrives for him to take the throne. Between the giving and the fulfilment of the promise, David faced many challenges and opportunities for doubting God’s word. Yet as we have seen he clung to the faithfulness of God as his anchor, and at the right time was elevated to his position of authority and influence.

The time of David’s reign becomes a landmark in the history of the Israelite nation, often referred to as the golden age of their time. In the prophets he is symbolised as a holy tree from which the future promises of Israel’s restoration will come forth. David becomes a direct ancestor of Jesus Christ. Abraham’s descendants, the stars, are multiplying toward the promise of God, anticipating the coming of the Messiah and the explosion of salvation that will be set in motion by his arrival on earth.

Through the tapestry of the history of the Israelite nation we see God working on a grand public scale, but also weaving threads of intimacy and relationship in the small details. Constantly we see the incorporation of sinners into his story, as he brings redemption to his people again and again. It is these moments of connection that ultimately unfold the lineage of Jesus Christ.

It’s believed that this psalm was composed after David’s succession to the throne. Even in the midst of public honour and glory, David is privately drawn back to the awe and wonder of God’s love for him. The passionate wonder of these words is breathtaking, as David is consumed not by his own achievement and triumph, but by the desperate, intimate love of a Creator of infinite wonder and infinite grace.

Prayer:

In the midst of waiting on the fulfilment of your promise keep your heart focused on God’s faithfulness and his love for you. Then in the moment of your triumph and deliverance, your heart will be ready to praise God above all else, for it is in him alone that we find our being.


I Lie Awake Thinking of You

Psalm 17:3-5

You have tested my thoughts and examined my heart in the night.
    You have scrutinized me and found nothing wrong.
    I am determined not to sin in what I say.
I have followed your commands,
    which keep me from following cruel and evil people.
My steps have stayed on your path;
    I have not wavered from following you.

Psalm 63:1-8

O God, you are my God;
    I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
    my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
    where there is no water.
I have seen you in your sanctuary
    and gazed upon your power and glory.
Your unfailing love is better than life itself;
    how I praise you!
I will praise you as long as I live,
    lifting up my hands to you in prayer.
You satisfy me more than the richest feast.
    I will praise you with songs of joy.

I lie awake thinking of you,
    meditating on you through the night.
Because you are my helper,
    I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
    your strong right hand holds me securely.

Reflection

Rahab’s son Boaz marries Ruth, who becomes the grandmother of Jesse, whose youngest son, a talented harp player and shepherd, would years later become one of the greatest kings of Israel. While God is working out the lineage of his future Son, he is also outworking the promise of the Israelite nation. During this time the Israelites successfully conquer their promised land, establish a nation at first ruled by judges and then by its first King, Saul.

David wasn’t part of the original line up. According to lineage Saul’s son Jonathon and his line should have become the rulers of Israel. Yet again God is more interested in an open heart than in outward appearance.

David’s journey to his destiny was long and complex. He was described by God as a man after His own heart, and this is evident both in his responses to the challenges he faced, and in his heart poured out to God through the psalms. David was a worshipper from a young age – in fact it is his anointed harp playing that first brings him into the court of King Saul. Time and again we see David triumph through his worship heart and his deep understanding of God’s character and love.

David was aware of the beauty of night as a time of intimacy and connection with God, when the demands and struggles of the day are left behind and space is created in our hearts. David composed both of these psalms during his long flight from Saul’s wrath. In the face of constant fear and opposition, and the devastating betrayal of his beloved leader, David clings to God’s promises. His nights become a time of meditation and wonder instead of terror. This constant reminder of God’s love and faithfulness keeps David strong in his long journey to the promise.

Prayer:

During times of conflict and confusion, instead of lying awake thinking of your troubles, fix your thought on God’s goodness and his love and let your nights become moments of meditation and peace.

The Supreme God Of The Heavens Above

Joshua 2:1-14

Then Joshua secretly sent out two spies from the Israelite camp at Acacia Grove. He instructed them, “Scout out the land on the other side of the Jordan River, especially around Jericho.” So the two men set out and came to the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there that night.

But someone told the king of Jericho, “Some Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.” So the king of Jericho sent orders to Rahab: “Bring out the men who have come into your house, for they have come here to spy out the whole land.”

Rahab had hidden the two men, but she replied, “Yes, the men were here earlier, but I didn’t know where they were from. They left the town at dusk, as the gates were about to close. I don’t know where they went. If you hurry, you can probably catch up with them.” (Actually, she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them beneath bundles of flax she had laid out.) So the king’s men went looking for the spies along the road leading to the shallow crossings of the Jordan River. And as soon as the king’s men had left, the gate of Jericho was shut.

Before the spies went to sleep that night, Rahab went up on the roof to talk with them. “I know the Lord has given you this land,” she told them. “We are all afraid of you. Everyone in the land is living in terror. 10 For we have heard how the Lord made a dry path for you through the Red Sea when you left Egypt. And we know what you did to Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River, whose people you completely destroyed. 11 No wonder our hearts have melted in fear! No one has the courage to fight after hearing such things. For the Lord your God is the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below.

12 “Now swear to me by the Lord that you will be kind to me and my family since I have helped you. Give me some guarantee that 13 when Jericho is conquered, you will let me live, along with my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all their families.”

14 “We offer our own lives as a guarantee for your safety,” the men agreed. “If you don’t betray us, we will keep our promise and be kind to you when the Lord gives us the land.”

Reflection

On the other end of forty years in the wilderness, God is still unfolding his greatness through the nation of Israel as he leads them gradually but completely into the inheritance of their promise. At each step through the journey God delivers them from one trial and after another – from hunger, thirst, confusion, uncertainty, rebellion, divided loyalties and sin – we see the strengthening of the Israelite nation and the ever-increasing clarity of the identity of God.

This passage reads like a twist in an epic adventure tale, with the assignment of two spies sent ahead into enemy territory to scout the way forward. Again God intervenes, bringing his hand to weave an intricate detail of relationship and revelation. In this moment we catch a glimpse of the wider scope of God’s plan as we’re shown the representation of his glory through the eyes of a foreigner. In the struggles and triumphs of the Israelite nation, word of God’s deliverance has spread powerfully through the nations so they live in fear of his supreme authority.

Not only is Rahab one of the ‘enemy’ but she is a prostitute, an outcast and a sinner. Her involvement in this story demonstrates the great love of God and of his Son who would hundreds of years later be derided by the religious leaders of the day because of his love for the lost. Rahab’s response to these spies shows a heart that is open and humble, ready to see and acknowledge the truth of God. And in doing so she becomes a direct ancestor of Jesus Christ. How great the father’s love for us.

Prayer:

God’s mercy is available to anyone whose heart is open to his voice. Consider the times in your life when you have felt unworthy and yet God has redeemed you again and again. Think also of those in your life who might be seen by the world as unworthy, and expect God’s hand of mercy to open their eyes to his love.