Daily Devotion for January 1, 2012
Eighth Day of Christmas
NEW YEAR'S DAY
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Our Virtual Sunday Church takes us to King's College Chapel.
Prayer for the Morning
Blessed are you, Lord God of my salvation, to you be praise and glory for ever. As once you ransomed your people from Egypt and led them to freedom in the promised land, so now you have delivered me from the dominion of darkness and brought me into the kingdom of your risen Son. May I, the fruit of your new creation, rejoice in this new day you have made, and praise you for your mighty acts. Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Prayer for Goodness (based on Psalm 1)
Heavenly Father, who has given us the gift of your law, so that we might know our sin, and your Son, that we might be forgiven where we fall short. Give me the grace to remember your holy Word, when my surroundings tempt me to confusion and weakness, that I might more nearly approach true obedience to your will. Help me to resist the arguments of the ungodly; let me not be deceived by false beauty; and let me never replace the truth which you have put into my heart with the clever words of men. Through Christ I pray,
Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, I pray that you direct my way unto you, and make me and all of us to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you; to the end that we may establish our hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
But to the righteous, good shall be repaid.
Matthew 2:19-23 (ESV)
The Return to Nazareth
But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, "Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead." And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel.
But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled: "He shall be called a Nazarene."
Notes on the Scripture
The life of Jesus paralleled the history of the Hebrews; he would essentially live out the Old Testament, so that his resurrection would symbolize not the victory of just Himself, but a victory of the history of God's relationship with mankind and, with His resurrection, the beginning of a new chapter.
Like Adam, Jesus was not born of man, but was created in part by God. Like Abraham, he was circumcised, thereby participating in the old covenant. Like the Hebrews, political tyranny forced him to flee to Egypt. Now, like Moses, he is freed from the slavery of Herod and escapes from Egypt, to live in Canaan, the promised land.
The reasons for Joseph choosing to take the family to Nazareth are no longer known, and the prophecy, "he shall be called a Nazarene" has been lost. Some scholars have thought that this is a play on words. In Isaiah 11:1, he prophesied, "There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit." Christian scholars agree that this shoot represents Jesus; and the word for "shoot" is spelled N-TS-R, identical to the spelling of the first two syllables of Nazareth. In other words, Nazareth might well mean "the place of the shoot".
But while this is not impossible, more likely is that Matthew knew prophecies that are not in our Bible. Although the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament, i.e. the Pentateuch) was written on scrolls and kept in the Temple, together with other holy writings, the Dead Sea scrolls showed that there might be significant differences between the Jewish Bible at the time of Christ and the entirety of holy works. But we must trust Matthew to have known, for readers of his Gospel would have required accuracy in the prophetic scripture he quoted.
From a common sense point of view, it makes sense for Joseph to have gone to Galilee; it was about as far from Jerusalem as he could have gone while staying well within the traditional boundaries of Canaan, the Jews' Promised Land.