Genealogies – don’t you just love them! When Matthew sat down to write his gospel, he understood how important it was to grab the reader’s attention with the first few paragraphs. So what did he do? He chose to use the first 17 verses to trace the ancestry of Yeshua back to Abraham, 41 generations in all!
Holy Spirit? Surely that has more to do with Pentecost doesn’t it? Most people when thinking of the Christmas story completely miss the point when it comes to Holy Spirit. But he (yes, Ruach Ha’kodesh is a he, not an it) played a vital role in our story, and without him, there would have been no virgin birth.
“We three kings of Orient are, bearing gifts we traverse afar”… so goes the popular carol depicting the journey of the “wise men”, written by an Episcopalian deacon in New York in 1857. The carol was written for an elaborate holiday pageant, and the “kings” were given names: Melchior, Caspar and Balthasar.
Much of Herod’s life has been recorded by Josephus Flavius, a 1st century historian, based on the writings of Nicholas of Damascus, Herod’s personal secretary. As there is a lot of material about Herod’s life to be found on Wikipedia, I have not felt it necessary to go into great detail about his life; I feel it would be more helpful to try and discover the kind of man he was and why he turned out the way he did.
Apart from Michael the archangel, the only other angel in Scripture who is specifically named is Gabri’el. His name means "God is my strength," or "mighty one." Though he is never specifically referred to as an archangel, he is a high-ranking angel. He stands in the presence of God and to him are given messages of the highest importance in relation to the kingdom of God.
John, whose name means “God is gracious”, was a forerunner, with a very clear ministry to prepare the way for Yeshua. He is described as “the voice of one crying in the wilderness” – he is to be a voice of preparation, and a voice of separation. The voice of preparation was, concerning Yeshua, pointing toward the one who was to follow him; the one of whom John said “he must increase and I must decrease.”
Elisabeth was descended from Aaron the high priest, and lived with her husband Zachariah in the hills of Hebron, about 30 miles south of Jerusalem in the Judean hills. Like her husband, she was a devout believer in God, following the law and all the ordinances, living a godly life. Elisabeth – or Elisheva in Hebrew – means “God has promised”.
“In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zachariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elisabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.” (Luke 1:5-7)
Each day for the next 12 days we will be taking a look at the main characters involved in the Christmas story. Some are well-known, others maybe a little more obscure. The bible is full of revelation, and for me the stories behind these characters throw a lot of light on what I thought I knew.
Have you ever started watching a TV series and discovered you’ve actually missed several preceding episodes. So frustrating!!! Whilst you’re trying to follow the plot you keep finding yourself unsure of what is actually happening. What actually is the plot?