Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Nativity - Part 1: Setting the Stage

The Nativity
Part 1 - Setting the Stage
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | www.PS127.org | www.TruthDigest.org


SCRIPTURE READING

Luke 2:1-21
 1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.
 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
 8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
   and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

 


INTRODUCTION

As we place each of the pieces to the Nativity scene in its proper place, we will examine why it is there, and what the significance of each piece is.

We will also discuss things that were taking place we cannot see by looking at a nativity scene.

Today we will look at the setting of the nativity.  We will examine the when, where and who.  Finally, we will introduce the first characters of the nativity, the Angel of the Lord and the Shepherds.


I.                   SETTING
a.      (When) In Those Days
                                                             i.      Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus (63BC - 14AD)
1.      Considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire

2.      He ruled from 27BC (36 y/o) 14AD at the time of his death. (77/78 y/o)

3.      In 27BC the senate gave him the honorific name Augustus, which is Greek for “the reverend one

4.      Because of the various names he bore, being born Gaius Octavius Thuribnus, and officially names Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus, it is common to call him;

a.      Octavius  events between 63BC - 44BC
b.     Octavian for events between 44BC - 27BC
c.      Augustus for events after 27BC


                                                          ii.      He demanded a census be taken
1.      This was so he could tax

2.      Citizens of Rome and Italy paid indirect tax, while provinces paid a direct fixed tax, 4% on the price of slaves, 1% on all goods sold at auctions, and 5% inheritance tax.
                                                       iii.      The month of August is named after him
1.      Until then it was called sextilis because it was the sixth month of the Roman calendar.


b.     (Where) Bethlehem, Judea Town of David
                                                             i.      Belt Lehem (Hebrew) means “House of Bread”

                                                          ii.      “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” - Matthew 4:4

                                                       iii.      “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” - Matthew 26:26

                                                         iv.      Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.” - John 6:32

                                                            v.      The Manna from heaven in the Old Testament, when the Israelites were in the wilderness, that rained down from heaven to sustain them was a foreshadowing of the coming of Christ.  Jesus is the true bread from heaven, the Word of God.  That word is also written for us in the Bible, from God’s mouth through the Holy Spirit.


c.      (Who) Joseph, Mary and Jesus
                                                             i.      We read that Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem, where Jesus ended up being born, in the House of Bread, the town of David, of which prophecy foretold that the savior would come from the line of David, and take seat on the throne of David as the King of the Jews.

                                                          ii.      One of the reasons King Herod wanted Jesus killed was because;
1.      Herod was an Edomite (A descendant of Ishmael)  The long struggle between Esau and Jacob came to a head as the serpents brood of the Edomite Herod set themselves on the Throne of David illegitimately.
2.      That seat belongs to Christ alone.

3.      Herod heard that there was born a King of the Jews (Matthew 2:1 - 18) Not a prince, but a King!

4.      No man or woman was safe while Herod reigned. One by one he murdered his rivals. He murdered his wife’s brother because he was popular with the Jews.

He murdered Mariamne, the beautiful Maccabean princess he had married, because he was suspicious of her, and he murdered both her sons. He murdered his own son and heir.

Herod hacked his way through life, slaughtering six to eight thousand of the best people in his realm. Caesar Augustus is reported to have cynically said, “I’d sooner be Herod’s swine than Herod’s son.”

5.      Herod = Edomite = Esau

Jesus = Israelite = Jacob

Genesis 27:41 And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob.

A person is identified not only by his friends, but also by his enemies. Herod pretended that he wanted to worship the newborn King (Verse 8) when in reality he wanted to destroy Him.



II.               OUTSIDE IN THE FIELDS
a.      Shepherds
                                                             i.       And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. - Luke 2:8

b.     Angel of the Lord
                                                             i.      An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. - Luke 2:9

                                                          ii.      But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” - Luke 2:10-12


c.      Heavenly Host
                                                             i.       Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” - Luke 13-14
 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. - Luke 2:15-18



III.            THE SAVIOR IS COMING
a.      Foreshadowed & Prophesied in the Old Testament
                                                             i.      From Genesis, and God performing the first sacrifice and covering Adam and Eve’s nakedness after they sinned against God, through Malachi where God promised that a messenger (John the Baptist) would prepare the way for Jesus’ arrival.  (confirmed in Mark 1:1-9 & Matthew 11:13-14)

                                                          ii.      God has shown us from the beginning of our time, that there is sin against Him and His perfection in our lives.
1.      “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” - Romans 3:23
                                                       iii.      God has also told us what the penalty for sinning against Him is.
1.      “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” - Romans 6:23

                                                         iv.      God then promised to all who will receive, the answer for their sin, the payment which is required for sin, a perfect sacrifice, Jesus Christ’s atoning death, and the free gift of eternal life for those who submit to the Lord, making Him their master.

1.      “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” - I John 2:2

2.      “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” - I John 4:10

b.     The Scriptures fulfilled in His birth, The Debt of sin satisfied with His death.


CONCLUSION

The setting is in the time of Caesar Augustus, “the reverend one” who will soon see the one whom should be revered.

The King of the Jews, the Messiah and Savior is arriving to take His rightful place upon the Throne of David.

The shepherds told of His arrival in Bethlehem, Judea by the Angel of the Lord.  Bethlehem, House of Bread in Hebrew. 

The heavenly host of angels sings praise, honor and glory for the coming of Christ, the one who died as atonement for the required payment for sin, so that we, who accept Jesus as our Lord, may receive the gift of eternal life with the Lord.

If you cannot serve the Lord today in life, what makes you think you will serve Him eternally after death?