Summary: A Christmas sermon from the housetop of the Bible.

Sermon for 12/24/2006

Up On the Housetop


Who is He in yonder stall, at whose feet the shepherds fall?

Who is He in deep distress, fasting in the wilderness?

Tis the Lord! O wondrous story! Tis the Lord! The King of glory!

At His feet we humbly fall, Crown Him! Crown Him, Lord of all!


A. These are words to a popular Christmas hymn written by Benjamin R. Hanby.

B. Benjamin Hanby was the son of a United Brethren minister. When he graduated from college, he served as the principal of a school in Ohio. Later, he preached in Lewisburg and New Paris. He composed another song quite popular among abolitionists of the time called, “Darling Nellie Gray.” It was a song against slavery. WE would think that a man of this description would be serious minded.

C. Mr. Hanby also wrote another song. Some of you know it, sing along with me.

D. Up on the housetop, reindeer pause, out jumps good ol Santa Claus. Down through the chimney with lots of toys all for the little ones Christmas joys. Ho, Ho, Ho! Who wouldn’t go? Ho, Ho, Ho! Who wouldn’t go? Up on the housetop, click, click, click. Down through the chimney with good Saint Nick.

E. He’s not so serious minded as we might think. Mr. Hanby got his thoughts for this song from Clement Moore’s poem, “Twas the Night before Christmas.” But where did they get this idea that there is a man out there who lands on the housetop, goes down through the chimney and delivers toys to the girls and boys?

F. Saint Nicholas is said to have provided a dowry for three women in distress. There father was going to sell them into prostitution but because Saint Nicholas provided money so they could get married, this did not happen. The legend says that up on the housetop, Saint Nicholas dropped gold coins through the roof to save them from this fate. This legend has grown and grown until this.

G. Something we must understand just from the legend of Saint Nicholas is that housetops in Bible times and housetops today are different. We think of Santa straddling his sleigh on the top of our roofs while he tries to keep his balance before he goes down the chimney. This was a foreign thought to those in Bible times. They did not have housetops, they had flat roofs.

H. In Bible times people did not build houses with the idea in mind that most of their daily living would be spent inside them. Their first interest was in spending as much time as possible in God’s out of doors. The house served as a place of retirement and the roof served in that purpose.

I. Manners and Customs of Bible Lands by Fred Wight says, “The roof was made by laying beams across from wall to wall, then putting on a mat of reeds, and over it a coating of clay or earth; sand and pebbles scattered over this, and a stone roller was used to make it smooth and able to shed rain.”

J. The roofs of Bible times are mentioned quite a lot.

Thesis: From the Bible’s perspective, what would we see, hear, taste, smell, and touch on the roof.

For instances:

I. See

The view is tremendous from a roof. See for miles and look down upon the streets.

A. (Judg 16:27 NIV) Now the temple was crowded with men and women; all the rulers of the Philistines were there, and on the roof were about three thousand men and women watching Samson perform.

From the roof of the Bible we can look down and see the ruined lives of many!

B. (2 Sam 11:2 NIV) One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful

The palace was above the roofs of Jerusalem, and David could look upon this woman lustfully. It leads to sin and many problems for David! But what about Bathsheba!

E. (Dan 4:29 NIV) Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, (Dan 4:30 NIV) he said, "Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?"

Nebuchadnezzar was looking at the city and he became filled with pride! Who gave him the power and the wisdom to do this? Some do this today! Don’t need God!

In the movie, “Shenandoah” James Stewart’s character is the patriarch of a large Southern family, running a very successful plantation when the Civil War broke out. Early in the movie the family sat down for dinner, and as they all bowed their heads, this is what he prayed: ’Lord, we cleared this land; we plowed it, sowed it, and harvested it. It wouldn’t be here and we wouldn’t be eating it if we hadn’t done it all ourselves. We worked dog-bone hard for every crumb and morsel, but we thank you just the same anyway for this food we are about to eat. Amen’

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