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It’s the Sunday Before Christmas

 

A Sermon Delivered to
The Compassion Internet Church
 
23 December 2012
 
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

Scripture References:

Matthew 24:35-36
Luke 1:39-55
Hebrews 10:1-17

It’s the Sunday before Christmas
And relatively few humans
Were seeking to bring peace on earth
Including every animal.
 
Most were hard of heart and selfish
And indifferent to the pain
And suffering they were causing
In their greed to eat animals.
 
And with this kind of hardness of heart in our minds and souls, it is not a great leap for some people to kill their fellow human beings, including children.
 
We can never have true peace on earth unless we free the whole of creation from the corruption to which it has been subjected.
 
So, on this Sunday, two days before Christmas, we have to ask: do we really want to have true peace on earth, or do we want more of the pain, suffering, and death that is so prevalent all around us?
 
These are questions we should all ponder in our hearts and souls.
 
Before Jesus was born, His mother, Mary, went to visit Elizabeth and Zacharias, the parents of yet to be born John, who came to be known as the Baptist.

39. Now at this time Mary arose and went with haste to the hill country, to a city of Judah,
 
40. and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth.
 
41. And it came about that when Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
 
42. And she cried out with a loud voice, and said, "Blessed among women are you, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!
 
43. "And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
 
44. "For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy.
 
45. "And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord."

Both Mary and Elizabeth accepted their commission from God to bring into the world sons who would present the way of true and lasting peace.
 
However, because of the hardness of heart in the world, they were both killed early in their ministries.
 
Their peace was not accepted then, and even to this very day, except for a relatively small percentage of our population.
 
But we have to keep trying, just as Mary and Elizabeth were obedient to God’s will in their lives.

46. And Mary said:
"My soul exalts the Lord,
 
47. And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
 
48. "For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave;
For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.
 
49. "For the Mighty One has done great things for me;
And holy is His name.
 
50. "And His mercy is upon generation after generation
Toward those who fear Him.
 
51. "He has done mighty deeds with His arm;
He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.

Isn’t this exactly what we talked about last week?
 
If we follow through as peacemaking children of God, He will be faithful to scatter those who seek to live in the evil ways of this world.
 
This is a call for action, for nothing is going to happen if we sit back and do nothing, with only the hope that the Lord will do something on His own.

52. "He has brought down rulers from their thrones,
And has exalted those who were humble.
 
53. "He has filled the hungry with good things;
And sent away the rich empty-handed.
 
54. "He has given help to Israel His servant,
In remembrance of His mercy,
 
55. As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and his offspring forever." 
NASB

And God always does the glorious and mighty deeds in conjunction with His obedient servants; just as Mary and Elizabeth were obedient, so should we likewise be his obedient and faithful servants.
 
Jesus’ first coming was a Christmas gift to the world, but most people rejected it, and His second coming will bring the gift of peace that the world is fighting against, regardless of what they say.
 
And if you are hearing this message, then you also know the prediction about the world coming to an end on 21 December 2012, which was just another false prophecy stemming from the devil.
 
Note the confirmation of this in Matthew 24:35-36.

35. "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away.
 
36. "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.
NASB

This is believing in the Lord and not the words of our fellow human beings, for the Lord is faithful in all things, including the bringing of true and lasting peace that we are to help usher in.
 
Now let’s take a look at Hebrews 10:1-17, and see another reason why we talk about the fact that true peace can never come through the killing and eating of animals; it comes from ceasing all forms of violence and killing.

1. For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never by the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect those who draw near.

This one verse explains why the ancient Hebrew tradition could never bring them true and lasting peace and forgiveness, as history confirms.

2. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins?

And if this did happen, all sacrifice and violence would have ended almost as soon as it began.

3. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year.
 
4. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Note carefully what this says: “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”
 
And for all those who ask, “Didn’t God command the Hebrews to sacrifice animals?”
 
We have to respond with a resounding NO! For all God really desired was obedience.

5. Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says,

"Sacrifice and offering Thou hast not desired,
But a body Thou hast prepared for Me;
 
6. In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast taken no pleasure.
 
7. "Then I said, 'Behold, I have come
 (In the roll of the book it is written of Me)
To do Thy will, O God.'"
 
8. After saying above, "Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast not desired, nor hast Thou taken pleasure in them" (which are offered according to the Law),
 
9. then He said, "Behold, I have come to do Thy will." He takes away the first in order to establish the second.

This is the heavenly will of God, in which there is no pain, suffering, mourning, or death, but true and lasting peace for all who will have it.

10. By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

This was to bring the end to human inflicted death on earth, but most of the people rejected it, rather seeking to live in this corrupted world with all its suffering and death.

11. And every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins;

This refers to what was going on during and shortly after Jesus’ incarnation.

12. but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God,
 
13. waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet.
 
14. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
 
15. And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
 
16. "This is the covenant that I will make with them
After those days, says the Lord:
I will put My laws upon their heart,
And upon their mind I will write them,"
 
He then says,
 
17. "And their sins and their lawless deeds
I will remember no more."
NASB

These lawless deeds include all the deliberate acts of violence that cause so much pain, suffering and death to humans and other animals all over the world every day.
 
So, if we want to be true followers of Jesus Christ, then we need to let Him put His laws of peace and mercy upon our hearts and souls in such a deep way that we would no longer even think about causing another living being to suffer or die, or even be a part of it.
 
And a large part of being open to receive this great Christmas gift is making a conscious decision to be peacemaking children of God in everything that we do, which is easily evidenced by what we put on our plates.
 
What is going to be on your plates this Christmas?
 
Is it going to be the products of suffering and death?
 
Or, is it going to be the plant foods that God originally ordained for us to eat? (Genesis 1:29)
 
We cannot truly honor Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, with acts of violence and suffering, nor can we expect Him to bless any part of them, just as the Hebrews knew, for they never had a blessing over any animal food.
 
But, if we ask Him to bless our meal of peace, we will truly have a Merry Christmas all the days of our lives, and even forever and ever.
 
Amen.

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