Tag Archives: Weeping

Singing with the King @ Christmas (15)

Christmas Star

Coventry Carol

Herod the King in his raging
Charged he hath this day
His men of might in his own sight
All children young to slay

Then woe is me poor child for thee
And ever mourn and say
For thy parting nor say nor sing
Bye-bye, lullay, lullay

It has always baffled me that a star shone in the sky over Bethlehem, announcing the Savior’s birth, and nobody noticed except for some magi who came hundreds of miles away, probably from Persia, to see this new born King. And when these magi arrived in Jerusalem, they went to see Herod to ask him where this new born King of the Jews would be. As you might guess, this would cause Herod some consternation, because he thought that he was the king of the Jews. So Herod rouses all of his biblical scholars to find out where this birth was to happen, and I’m sure some scholarly Pharisee dusted off the scroll of the prophet Micah which said: “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.” (Micah 5:2) THIS King was a much bigger deal than Herod ever would be. Once he found out, Herod passed along the news to the Magi, encouraging them to come back to tell him where they found this King, so that he too could “Worship Him.”

But God knew his heart and warned the Magi to return to their home by another way. When Herod found out, he was furious, and instead of going to worship Him, he instructed his soldiers to kill all the baby boys two years old and younger. Thus, a second prophecy is fulfilled from Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children; and she refused to be comforted, because they were no more.” (Jeremiah 31:15) This despicable and tragic act has been known as the Slaughter of the Innocents.

And that was the event which stirred the writing of the hauntingly beautiful Coventry Carol. There is not a lot going on in this Carol theologically speaking. It is little more than a musical retelling of the slaughter. But I mention this song because I want to know and to feel all the things surrounding the birth of Christ. I want to know the wondrous good and joy surrounding this birth, but I don’t want to miss the evil and tragedy. One child was born, and who knows how many dozens if not hundreds were slaughtered because of a crazed king.

Nearly 2000 years later, the church is being persecuted, Christ-followers are being martyred, and Christ is being dismissed, ridiculed, and scorned. Few if any would respond to Christ the way Herod did; but even to ignore Him, places you under God’s judgment rather than His mercy. So, how do you respond to the Christ?

 

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Singing with the King (57) – Have You Lost Your Voice?

Their hands have no feeling, their legs don’t move, and they can’t make a sound. Everyone who made the idols and all who trust them are just as helpless as those useless gods. (Psalm 115:7-8)

False3Idols. Useless gods. Do you serve any useless gods? When God with His own finger wrote out the 10 Commandments for Moses, the first of them was:  Do not worship any god except me. Do not make idols that look like anything in the sky or on earth or in the ocean under the earth.  Don’t bow down and worship idols. I am the Lord your God, and I demand all your love. (Exodus 20:3-5)

Now the thing about idols is that they are no longer relegated to the wood, stone, precious metal composition. They can be intangible; such as philosophies, ideologies, pursuits, careers, seemingly harmless (yet all-consuming) goals. Even religion can be an idol. I think the Pharisees of Jesus time would be the consummate example for that. Another idol is evolution. Another pervasive one is SELF. And what about the government? Well, whatever the flavor-of-the-month your idol is, you are going to become like it. For the past couple of weeks we’ve focused on verse 8. But this time I want to focus on a specific characteristic the idol has passed down: no voice. Now you may not be completely mute, but whatever you say, won’t matter.

I had old man in a beda mentor named Rick when I was at the Conservatory. He was a retired Baptist missionary, and was now on the payroll of a large hospital in the Central Valley as their chaplain. Whenever there was a difficult situation, Rick was called in to minister to the family, and help the patient to step into eternity to meet Jesus. There was this one old man who had just hours to live, and the hospital asked Rick to visit him. He had no family, he was alone, and Rick chose to sit and wait with him.

After a rather pain-filled conversation with this patient, Rick discovered that the man was Jewish. So Rick asked if he could read the Old Testament to him. The man nodded, so Rick read Isaiah 53:

Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?  For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him.  He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.  Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.   (Isaiah 53:1-5)

Rick heard something, looked up and saw the man weeping. The words of the prophet had obviously touched this man, so Rick leaned forward and said, “You know, Isaiah was talking about Jesus.” But the man, shaking his head, said with his last few breaths, “I don’t understand, I don’t understand.” Rick tried to explain using other verses from the Old Testament, but the man still weeping said one last time, “I don’t understand.” And he passed into eternity without knowing his Messiah.

He needed to cry our like Peter. “Lord save me!” (Matthew 14:30) But he did not. He had no understanding, and he had no words. Now I don’t know what his particular idol was, but it left him without the right words to say.

Consider this warning from Christ:  “Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail. When the master of the house has locked the door, it will be too late. You will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ Then you will say, ‘But we ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’  And he will reply, ‘I tell you, I don’t know you or where you come from. Get away from me, all you who do evil.’ (Luke 13:24-37)

May the Lord give you the right words to say, before it is too late.