Christmas and the heart-moving ministry

Orienting the heart seems to be necessary before the actual change of the heart as forecast in by Moses and Ezekiel. While the mob in modern tmes has been trying to take credit for all of God’s work on the human family the people of Bible times were pretty sure that whatever innovation God was going to come up with was going to detour around Moses’ huge contribution. The evidence that a change was overdue in the civic, religious, and personal lives of people in New Testament times included the dominance of Rome, the corruption in the temple services, and the opposing religious or political factions. While the Hebrew Bible does not end with Malachi and the curse of apathy it does end with the people in exile and that situation has to, by any reckoning, has to find resolution in a temple in the Land of Promise. The prospect slipped away the focus on the heart dwindles. The last book of the Hebrew canon, 2 Chronicles, has more (42) references to heart (leb or lebab, bbl, bl@ or bb*l@) than all the minor prophets (31).

“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the LORD his God be with him. Let him go up.’”

2Chr. 36:23

The sign of change can be best tagged to a Gentile king, accepting a commission from Yahweh to build a house in Jerusalem. This puts Gentiles in the stream of people for whom the divine name is a priority.

The paths of the province of Judea since the return from exile stayed close to ignorance about about Abraham’s larger family; the innumerable Gentiles who are among the elect. Xenophobia made no sense after the unmistakeable call of God on the life of a Gentile king. It was not going to be overcome by simply revisting the ancestral heritage. The pride of being Abraham’s descendants was not going to cut it (Luke 3:8). Jews and Gentiles enter God’s kingdom by exactly the same route, a fact trampled by the Pharisees (and James!) in their attempt to turn Gentiles coming to faith in Christ into Jews (Acts 11:2, 12, 17)

But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Acts. 15:1

But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.” Acts. 15:5

We can see how the heart needed reorientation within the Jewish family and towards the rest of the world’s people. The arrival of Christ was satisfying news for all people.

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Luke. 2:10

The achievement of humanity’s destiny is rooted in God’s person from eternity. If the problem of the Sinai arrangement was one of the human heart the resolution has to be a new arrangement of matters of the heart (Deu. 5:29). Let us now survey the heart-moving developments of the Christmas story.

  1. Preceding the Messiah to prepare the heart is John the Baptist, who, by message and lifestyle proclaimed a break with the past
    • and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” Luke. 1:17
      1. this was necessary for the right balance between the past and the future
      2. the disobedient can only be a reference to the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, whose record of treachery and rebellion is without dispute. Indeed since New Testament times more convincing evidence of wrong-heartdness and resstence wto wisdom stands in the empty spot where the temple, the place for Yahweh’s name, used to be the centre of Jewish life.
    • and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him. Luke. 1:66
      1. People’s response was more than “Oh, that’s interesting” or “How nice!”. The people put the things they had heard in their hearts. That is equivalent to
  2. Heart-moving developments relate the importance of the heart in the coming revelation and visitation. Without a work in the heart there is no value to a relationship with the God of Abraham. People were interested and proud of their descent from Abraham, and all the people who were part of the Spirit’s intervention in the lives of Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph, and Simeon, paid attention to what was happening to the human heart.
    1. Descent from Abraham was irrelevant.
      1. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Matt. 3:9
    2. Prideful thinking of oneself brings divine judgment.
      1. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; Luke. 1:51
    3. The heart as the storage device for unfolding matters.
      1. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. Luke. 2:19
      2. Mary appears more diligent towards the things she had heard. She tagged and kept putting them together, fully believing.
    4. The exposure of the dark side of the human heart was also on tap and God inspired Simeon to inform Mary that her motherhood was not going to be just joy, blessing and honour, but also extreme discomfort.
      1. She was destined for a soul piercing with the result that the contents of many hearts were going to be exposed.
      2. (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” Luke. 2:35

Let every heart prepare Him room