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Christmas Gift Exchange ~ a thought for Jehovah's witnesses (general)

posted by fezik82(R), Ohio, 11.16.2017

The Gifts of the Magi

The Society regularly condemns the gift giving of the magi in attempt to secure their teaching that they were party to a pagan cult. They recognize that Christ would not condemn giving, though they go on to assert that, “[He] said to give to those who cannot repay you”, and therefore the exchanging of gifts at Christmas, “would not receive Jesus’ approval”. They claim this sort of giving is, “patterned after the exchanging of gifts during the pagan Saturnalia”. Their claim of Biblical evidence to allege that Christians are not to offer gifts at Christmas is that those who brought gifts to Christ were “none other than the demon-worshiping astrologers! Certainly Christians are not to follow their example.” However, it would benefit them much to learn of the positive gift giving in the Bible. On Solomon's wedding day, he received gifts that were mysteriously similar to those offered to Christ, gifts of frankincense and myrrh (Song of Solomon 3:6). Watch Tower founder Charles Russell did not share the paranoia of today's writers. He once declared that:

"the miraculous luminary had accomplished its mission : the infant Redeemer and King was found and reverently worshipped and presented with the choicest and most costly gifts. Thus even in his infancy this light that was to lighten the Gentiles begun to shine into some waiting and devout Gentile hearts."

This is a very enlightening declaration, as these particular gifts were very much appropriate to royalty. As Tertullian noted, “they therefore offered to the then infant Lord that frankincense and myrrh and gold, to be, as it were, the close of worldly sacrifice and glory, which Christ was about to do away” .

Gold Some have suggested that gold is a symbol of Divinity due to its biblical uses. Gold was employed to fashion pagan idols (ex. Hosea 8:4; 1 Kings 12:28; Exodus 32:4), but it was also a command by God that gold adorn the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:10-17).

Gold was a valuable metal that may have financed Mary and Joseph's journey. It is astonishing that the Magi were led to the holy family just in time to extend these costly gifts as God was preparing to call them out of Egypt. In Matthew 2:15, Matthew recalls God's avowal, "out of Egypt I have called my Son" and understands that this is the climax of the truest and divine Exodus; He further extends this call to His entire body.

Evidently, God did not instruct Joseph to take the child and His mother to live in poverty, but guided the first Gentile Christians to fund their stay in Nazareth. In Matthew 6:19-34, God instructs us to store up treasures in heaven rather than on earth. He instructs us to follow His commands and He states that along with the reward of eternal life, He will provide us with life’s necessities. He does not banish need of food and clothing on earth, but relays that if you seek first the Kingdom of God, He will provide these items for you. "God clothes the vegetation of the field that is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much rather clothe you, you with little faith?" (Matthew 6:30). How fitting it is that He should arrange for the satisfaction of His Christ's needs through the gifts provided by the Magi.

The Scriptures portray complete submission to the will of God. Taking for example the virgin Mary who though she was troubled by the announcement at the angel's greeting, undoubtedly fearing to become pregnant while yet a young virgin, submitted in humility to do God's will (Luke 1:29, 34, 38). Joseph, too, found himself in complete and utter trust in God. Night had already fallen before an angel advised him through a dream to move his family to safety. He did not wait until morning to heed God's warning, he sprang at once to pack his family and journey to the land of Israel (Matthew 2:19-21). As Matthew 6:19-34 declared, God provided for these faithful followers in their time of greatest need by sending the much needed gifts of the wise men through the direction of a miraculous star, guided no doubt by divine providence. It was, and remains, the custom of those in the East to bid respect through very generous offerings (Genesis 32:14, 43:11; 1 Samuel 10:27; 1 Kings 10:2; Psalm 72:10-15). God, in His own special way, provided for the mother and step-father of His only Son:

“Every good gift and every perfect present is from above, for it comes down from the Father of the [celestial] lights, and with him there is not a variation of the turning of the shadow” (James 1:17, NWT; brackets original).

Frankincense was a strong indication of Christ’s Divinity (Exodus 30:34). God commanded the Jewish priests to make incense of frankincense, the only incense which He would allow inside the temple. It was burned as a pleasant offering to Him (cf. Exodus 30:8; Leviticus 16:12) and was used as a symbol of worship (Psalm 141).

Myrrh was an expensive spice with many uses. In John 19:39, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea used 75 pounds of myrrh, mixed with aloe, to embalm Christ. This offering from the Magi could have been an indication of the death that He would suffer. Jehovah referred to myrrh as one of the “finest of spices” in Exodus 30:22-23, and commanded that the Israelites use it as one of the ingredients for His anointing oil. It was also a mild anesthesia, used to dull the senses, and was offered to Christ at the crucifixion for this very reason in Mark 15:23 (cf. Matthew 27:34). He, however, denied it until the very last moment, when He was obliged to drink the last cup.

Pastor Russell offered a clever summary of the Magi's gifts:

"God chose as messengers of his good tidings not only wise men but reverential men, men of faith; and his choice of these messengers from the east to arouse the people of Judea and Jerusalem and to be heralds of the great King was not an exception to the rule. Although heathen men, in the sense of not being of the nation with which God had thus far dealt and to whom he had thus far confined his gracious promises, they were, nevertheless, good men, reverential men, who delighted to know of the coming blessing of peace on earth and good will amongst men through whatever channel or nationality the Lord should be pleased to find his representative and messenger. In one respect many of Christendom could learn numerous important lessons from these wise Gentiles. No false patriotism stood in their way to hinder their appreciation of any manifestation of divine favor to the children of men. And when they found the Savior they were nothing daunted by the fact that his home surroundings were of the humbler sort. They worshiped him in three senses of the word: (1) They fell before him, prostrated themselves, thus physically expressing their reverence. (2) They worshiped him in their hearts and with the tongue gave expression to their rejoicing and confidence. (3) They opened their treasure-box and presented to him three gifts appropriate to royalty: the myrrh representing submission, frankincense representing praise, gold representing obedience."

---
I asked The Lord how much He loved me

He stretched out His arms and said, "this much"

Then He died for me

 


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