Sermons

Summary: Have you ever experienced theft? Something that is rightfully yours taken? This year, during Christmas, it is time to get those things back!

Presence

I. Introduction

No one likes a thief at any time of the year but especially at Christmas. You have read or seen accounts of families who have lost everything at Christmas due to a thief breaking into home or car. All hope seems to be lost. It seems Christmas for all of its emphasis on giving can be a season for losing too. But what if what was taken was stolen 400 years ago? Could you? Would you ever get it back? 400 years missing. 400 years of absence. 400 years unaccounted for. The presence of God that could always be located inside the tabernacle. The fire. The cloud. No where to be found. A people who are no longer wondering physically now find themselves under Roman control and wondering spiritually. They should have know this would happen. It had been prophesied. Deut. 31:20 For when I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to give to their fathers, and they have eaten and are full and grown fat, they will turn to other gods and serve them, and despise me and break my covenant. Now these people have inherited the promise but turned away from the Promise Giver and the result is bondage. The Children of Israel, now free from Egypt, are bound by a ruler by the name of Herod. Herod is a mad man. A megalomaniac who believes he is God and is desperate to maintain his throne. He claims the title "The King of the Jews!" He would kill his own family members to protect his iron clad rule. We see his determination to dominate extends to the people he rules.

Matthew 2:7-9; 16

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.

Herod was ruthless. He slaughters babies to kill The Baby. Why?

We discover the answer in:

Matthew 1:18-23

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

Herod was attempting to permanently kill the presence of God. He didn't want God with them because he was with them! He didn’t mind God’s omnipresence but was determined to keep manifest presence at bay.

God shatters the silence of 400 years. He reinserts Himself front and center. He sends a flesh wrapped, visible, tangible representative of His presence to His people and Herod tries to kill Him!

A few thoughts . . .

A. How long has He been missing?

The Children of Israel went 400 years without sensing or seeing God at work. How long have you gone? Has He been so silent that you fear or assume His absence? Even though we are promised that "He will never leave us or forsake us" has a prolonged period of lack of visible evidence of His presence caused us to believe the enemy who would tell us we are alone, forgotten, overlooked, or isolated? We sing things like "Your presence is like heaven to me!" but you haven't experienced His presence in so long it seems like hell! How long have you felt alone? You can become accustom to His assumed absence. You can turn to substitutes in the silence. Or you can remember and find hope in His name . . . Immanuel! He is God with us. Not just present but present. Manifest presence. God in your situation and in your neighborhood. May I encourage you to believe that even though it is hard to hear or see Him at times that He is there? Can I remind you of the the lesson a man who found himself isolated, hated by family, betrayed by his spouse learned . . . David comes full circle from Psalms 22 where he asks God why He has forsaken him and he exclaims . . .

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