The Native: The Gypsy Robe

Psalms 24:7-10
7 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
8 Who [is] this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.
9 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift [them] up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he [is] the King of glory. Selah.

The Jews had formed their opinion of what The Messiah would look like. Prophecy after prophecy had been passed down. They felt they would know Him when they saw Him.Israel longed for a Conquering King. One that would sweep in, and flood Rome out of existence. They expected Jerusalem to rule the known world. Israel wasn’t looking for a Shepherd to reveal the unknown, and to open up the Eternal.

John 7:46

46 The officers answered, Never man spake like this man.

I suppose that the twelve year old setting in the Temple was not what they had expected. If He had looked like David, perhaps they could have understood better. Young David had killed a lion, and a bear. This was a Carpenter’s Apprentice. To look at Him, was not to see the regal King they wanted, ah, but when He spoke.

The Bible says that He both asked, and answered questions of the Doctors. Is it possible that some of those veterans said, “He doesn’t look like what I expected?”  If so, they followed it with, “He sounds like more than I could have ever hoped!”

It’s not unusual for a King to hide in pauper’s clothing. To visit His subjects, He donned a fleshly robe. To borrow from the theater, He donned what they would call a Gypsy Robe.

In the American theater, specifically Broadway musicals, there is a tradition that dates back to the fifties. It started with members of the chorus, or ensemble. They were known as Gypsies, because they passed from one show to another. 

Theater people consider this to be a good luck charm. The youngest recipient was twelve year old Brynn Williams in 2005. The member of the chorus, or ensemble, who has been in the most shows is awarded it.

The robe is then  passed on to another actor in another show, until the robe was filled. Then it would be retired at one of three locations, including the Smithsonian. 

Matthew 2:15

15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

The word Gypsy is appropriate because of the history surrounding it’s meaning.   Groups of the Romani people were mistakenly referred to as Gypsies, thinking they originated in Egypt. The legend is that they were exiled as punishment for harboring the infant Jesus. While this is probably just a myth, the analogy is apt.

We were spiritually trapped in Egypt, bound and scarred, needing someone to rescue us.  To do that, He had to become one of us.The Lord Jesus spent thirty three and a half years on this Earth in a robe of flesh.

For the majority of that time, He limited Himself to the boundaries of mankind.  As a man He slept, as a man He ate. On the outside, He looked like everyone else.  The Robe was accomplishing it’s mission. It concealed His greatness until He was ready to reveal it.

Then, at a Wedding in Cana, it started.  From there, people realized that He was unlike any other.  At 12, The Doctors of the Law had gotten a preview of what was now unfolding. As God, He raised the dead, walked on water, and healed the leper. God in a Gypsy robe walked among men.  He revealed something far greater than an Earthly King, the revelation of an Eternal Savior!

The Ruler Of Heaven, wrapped in a fleshly robe, born in Bethlehem to die for us. Prophets had simply passed away. Moses transitioned to Joshua. They all said goodbye, folding up their earthly robes and closing their eyes. Jesus was different. Unlike David, He didn’t need His own grave. Jesus borrowed one from Joseph of Arimathaea. He used it for three days and three nights, and gave it back.

Jesus said, …lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.  Jesus went to the grave to destroy our sins. He walked out of it to give us a new life. He put on a Gypsy Robe so that one day, we could put on an Eternal one.

1 Corinthians 15: 53-54

53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal [must] put on immortality.

54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

The Native: And It Came To Pass

Luke2:1

1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

We hurry pass them, those first five words, but Isaiah would have paused.  Every Old Testament Saint would have rejoiced with a combination of tears and shouting.  After thousands of years, and numerous prophecies, God was now wrapped in a fleshly body, carried in a Virgin’s womb!

They would have all been at the birth, no one would have missed that night.  Our response is of course, neither would we, but how many calls have we ignored?  We may not be at the manger side, but He has called us to prayer in the night.  At times, we have answered, too many others, we turned over and went back to sleep.  When we say, “I’ll pray for you.”  Do we write it down?  Will we remember it past five minutes later?

Thankfully, though so many overlooked, He still came.  Even though, we have failed at times to heed His invitation, there is still time.  I don’t believe that there is much time left. I believe we are near the end.  If you’re reading this though, let me encourage you. Whether you seek to draw closer, or you’re miles away from His presence, He is still near.

The journey with Jesus starts with a conversation. Like any relationship, there is more to it than that, but it is a beginning.  We call it Repentance.  It’s a first step in every walk with God.  It means that you’re not only sorry for the past sins, since Adam we all have sinned.  It means that you want to leave them behind.  You choose to follow, not the road of man, but the path of God.

Luke 2:10-11

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

If you are scared, for Eternity is a heavy subject, don’t be.  It was the promise of the Angels, “Fear not… For unto you is born this day … a Savior, which is Christ The Lord.” Start your journey today, let Him do for you what He did for Bethlehem.  Christ turned a small, forgotten town into the birthplace of The King Of Kings.  Let Him do the same today for your heart.

The Native: More Than A List Of Names

Matthew 1:4
And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon;

Have you ever noticed the two lists, one in Matthew, and the other in Luke? They are genealogies. According to Scofield, Matthew lists Joseph’s lineage, and Luke lists Mary’s family. Luke mentioning Joseph because he was her husband.

Some may wonder why The Lord took time to recite them all. Others may have wanted it to be filled with information about the Infant Christ. The wonderful thing is, God intentionally made a place for what others may think as just a register.

To Him, this is more than a list of names. These were living, breathing members of His family. Men and women that He had walked with, people who committed their lives to God. He would no more forget them than He would ignore us. They are an illustration of His promise, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.

This Christmas, a lot of people are suffering, it’s been a wonderful year, but incredible doesn’t always mean easy. Whatever battles you’ve faced this year, whatever trial you’re dealing with, remember this. He never forgot the names of friends long gone, those covered in the dust of history, so He will remember us.

You and I don’t know much about Aram, but God can tell you what were his greatest dreams, and hardest battles. Every tear that others ignored, The Savior collected. Just like you and I, He carried those tears from a wooden manger to a timber cross. The God who always remembers, made it possible to forgive, and forget all of our sins at Calvary. Casting them, as The Bible says, as far as the east is from the west.

Malachi 3:16-17
16 Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.
17 And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.

Four hundred years separated The Old Testament and The New Testament, but time didn’t weaken God’s memory. Centuries didn’t destroy God’s promise, nor circumstances alter it. If armies couldn’t stop it then, they can’t silence your hope now.

He remembers you as much as He remembers them. He recalls, He cares, and He will cause you to give birth to your promise. One day, as He did in Matthew and Luke, He will read our names out of The Lamb’s Book Of Life. He loves you and I so much, He wrote down our names! Merry Christmas!

The Native: His First Words”

Matthew 3:15
And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now:for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.

A child’s first words are huge. I would guess that every parent remembers them. We don’t know what The Lord Jesus’ first words were, each Gospel chooses a different phrase to introduce us to The Master’s Voice. In Matthew, He is talking to John The Baptist. Suffer in the original means allow. Jesus is saying, Allow this now, for we are called to fulfill all righteousness.

Mark 1:14-15
14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand:repent ye, and believe the gospel.

The verse before it is very important as well. The catalyst of this setting is John’s imprisonment. In the Hebrew John means “Jehovah Has Graced”, or the Grace Of God. Man had sinned, and fallen into despair and degradation. For us, the possibility of Salvation was non existent before Calvary. That was when The Lord Jesus walked into the center of the world preaching The Gospel.

In Mark He mentions fulfillment again.”The time is fulfilled, The Kingdom Of God is here, repent, and believe the Gospel. ” In other words, Grace is here, it’s time to make a choice, discard your sins, and believe.

Luke 2:49
And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?

Luke gives us the earliest words of Jesus, at twelve years old. This is not the bearded face of The Carpenter, this is Christ in transition from boy to teen, the age that began the journey from child to man.

Sought: g2212. ζητεω zeteo; of uncertain affinity; to seek (literally or figuratively); specially, (by Hebraism) to worship (God), or (in a bad sense) to plot (against life):— be (go) about, desire, endeavour, enquire (for), require, (x will) seek (after, for, means).

He made statements in Matthew and Mark, in Luke and John He asks a question. Jesus uses a word, sought. He had experienced it’s meaning, in both a positive and a negative way. The Shepherds and The Wise Men sought to worship Him. Herod sought to kill Him. Every one will seek in some way. Either to join Him, or to attempt to destroy Him out of their life.

The Lord Jesus second sentence clarifies our options. If you seek Me, then it’s going to be about the work of God, the work of Redemption. Everything else is secondary. Jesus later said “Seek ye first The Kingdom Of God, and His righteousness …” Prior to saying it, He lived it.

John 1:38
Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye?— They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou?
39 He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where He dwelt, and abode with Him that day:for it was about the tenth hour.

In the fourth Gospel, He is followed by two disciples of John. They were Andrew and John. His simple question, “What Seek Ye?” The answer, was, where you dwell, or abide. Jesus’ response to them is His answer to us all. “Come and see.” His life, death, and resurrection made it possible for us to be with Him. Something that was impossible until a child cried in Bethlehem.

When you combine the message of all four of “His First Words”, you see The Kingdom’s Mission Statement. The Lord Jesus allowed Himself to go through all that He suffered so that He could impart His righteousness to man. He made it possible for us to choose Heaven as a future. To leave all our sin, and all our past at an altar. To join Him in the work of The Gospel. Asking others in pain, like we were, what are you seeking? When they ask if this is really an option? We can smile with the hope of Heaven, “Come and see.”

The Native: In The Order Of His Course

Luke 1:5-8
5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife [was] of the daughters of Aaron, and her name [was] Elisabeth.
6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were [now] well stricken in years.
8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course,

He was “of the course of Abia”. This is something that I had skipped most of my life. However, as we have been taught, The Word Of God has a reason for everything within it’s pages. Years before, King David separated the Levites into twenty four courses, one under Abia. This family of priests, showed no record of returning from Babylon in the captivity.

In Nehemiah’s days, the remaining families of Priests were separated to fulfill the twenty four courses. This meant that Zacharias was a substitute for a family that no longer had a record of existing. It may not seem like much, until you view it this way. God appointed a man to serve at His altar in a substitute capacity for someone who no longer had rights to the altar.

Aren’t you glad that God sent a High Priest to intercede at the altar when sin had cost us our place? The difference is this, there is no record of Abia’s family ever returning.

The Lord Jesus didn’t come to Earth to adapt to our sinful ways, but to graft us in to Him through His blood. So that we could triumphantly enter with Him into glory one day. The name Abia means My Father Is God. We can come before the altar because God has adopted us into His family. That is what makes the next verse so rich as well.

8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course,

The word order in Luke 1:8 comes from the Greek word taxis. It means a fixed succession, observing a fixed time. It’s no coincidence that this was when God chose to reveal the coming of Zacharias’ son. Zacharias was the son of a priest, who had been the son of a priest, and so on.

So many times, I allow myself to become overwhelmed by my current problem that I forget all the answers to the ones behind me. Zacharias longed for a child, and it didn’t seem possible. Then again, it doesn’t seem possible that a nomadic people who were slaves in Egypt could be liberated. It doesn’t seem possible that a people who were given a promised land by God, and lost it due to sin, could ever have come back to it.

How often we forget that our God is The God Of The Impossible! That, just as ordinary is common for us, impossible is His daily routine. What is amazing about our God isn’t that He performs the impossible. It’s that for thirty years on Earth, He would choose to limit Himself to the ordinary.

When you view God through this thought, giving an old couple a baby isn’t hard for Him. After all, that’s how this people started to begin with. How often we forget Abraham when we’re facing a trial. Isaac was just the first of many children of Israel produced in a miraculous way.

James 1:4
4 But let patience have [her] perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Notice, Patience is referred to as a female, and it references maturity. Much like the picture of a Mother giving birth to a baby. Tribulation worketh patience, just as contractions produce a child. Trials are the contractions of a Christian. They are used to give birth to the Ministry that God has placed in us, for a specific time.

Our Lead Pastor, Pastor Livingston, from Point Of Mercy in Nashville recently shared an incredible message on Hannah. In it, he brought out a life altering point, Samuel was given at exactly the right time. Years earlier, and he would not have been in time to anoint and train two kings, one of those kings was David.

Hannah had to wait for an appointed time. Zacharias and Elisabeth also had to wait to have John when they did. Years earlier, and he could not have been the forerunner. He would have missed the very purpose of his existence, had he have been born sooner.

Whatever battle you face today, ignore your clock. We look at second hands, and panic. God takes His hand and stops time to bring His people out of a valley. It’s all done when we serve, before God in the order of His course.

The Native: In The Days Of The Hero

This is our second post in our new Bible Study “The Native”. We hope that you enjoy, and follow along with us, as we explore the greatest birth in the history of the world.

Luke 1:1
1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,

This verse both refreshes and energizes me. It contains three words that are lacking from many parts of our culture. The phrase, “most surely believed among us,” reflects the conviction of the New Testament Church. Sadly, “most surely believed”, is noticeably absent from much of the modern world.

Politicians have their opinions, focus groups, and pollsters. Their position seems to shift with the wind. Sadly, many religious organizations are doing this as well. Some things can be debated, others argued, but core beliefs should be held to fiercely, and never compromised.

The word believed, in this passage, comes from a Greek word, plerophoreo. Meanings for this word include to bear or bring full, to fulfill the ministry in every part. It also means, to fill one with any thought, conviction, or inclination, and to make one certain.

As we begin our study of “The Native” Of Bethlehem, we must be reminded that His very existence was due to conviction, a Heavenly one. A heartfelt commitment that man, though unworthy, sinful, and fallen since the Garden, would receive an opportunity for redemption.

Luke 1:1, 5
1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,

5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife [was] of the daughters of Aaron, and her name [was] Elisabeth.

Luke 2:1
1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

For a moment, let’s compare Luke 1:1 with Luke 2:1. Many people can quote the beginning verses of the second chapter, but few can quote the beginning verses of the first. One is a declaration of belief from a simple Christian, the other is a command from the head of an empire. The difference is this, the Christian is part of a living, breathing, active Kingdom of light. The emperor is a forgotten relic of a long dead government covered in the dust of history.

Often, we get discouraged when we see injustice. To hear us talk, you would think that sin would continue to rule unchecked indefinitely, but how quickly we forget. God is not intimidated in the face of evil. When the ungodly rule, it is an invitation for a change orchestrated by The Hand Of God. Such was the case in both Luke 1:5 and 2:1, “There was in the days of Herod”, and “a decree from Caesar Augustus”, two totalitarian rulers with blood on their hands. It was in this atmosphere of despair that two babies would be born.

People’s names in The Bible are important, their meaning is not by chance, or insignificant. We know this when we’re discussing a prophet. If his name means God is glorified, we point to his ministry. If however, the person is a wicked and harmful person, we only pay attention to their name if it is a negative. It is the times that either a wicked person has a good name, or a good person has a wicked name which confuses us. This brings us to “the days of Herod.”

Any Bible scholar knows the wickedness of Herod the Great. His long list of crimes include the murder of the innocents. Herod’s name however, reflects a different image. It is a compound of two words, heroes and eidos. Eidos means the external or outward appearance, form figure, and shape. Together they form the word heroic, but if you look at the compound, it is a reflection of Herod, he appears a hero.

Herod wanted people to look at him as a hero, a champion of his people. He feigned himself a seeker of The Messiah in front of the Wise men. Herod had a smile on his face, and murder in his heart. Our reputation must reveal our hearts, and not reflect a façade that we hide behind. Otherwise, our relationship with Jesus will go from seeking Him, to attempting to extinguish Him from our lives completely.

5 There was in the days of Herod (Heroic), the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias (Remembered By Jehovah), of the course of Abia (My Father Is Jehovah): and his wife [was] of the daughters of Aaron (Light-Bringer), and her name [was] Elisabeth (Oath Of God).

Setting aside Herod’s character for a moment, how exciting is the statement on face value? Look not at the names, but their meanings. Without taking the Scripture out of context, let’s view it this way. In the days of the heroic, a certain priest was remembered by Jehovah. God had not forgotten them, and He has not forgotten us either.

We’ll talk more about Zacharias, Elisabeth, and John the Baptist in the next chapter of “The Native”.

The Native

As I write this today, there are 100 days until Christmas. It seems like the perfect day to start our second PruittWrites Bible Commentary. Only this one will not focus on one book, but rather a specific event, The Birth Of Christ.

It examines the miraculous plan of God. The fact that the First Citizen Of Eternity became a citizen of Earth. He, whose innocence was so foreign to man, became The Son Of Man. We call it simply “The Native”.

It will look at a combination of Scriptures. These include the first two chapters of Matthew and Luke, and the first chapter of John. Also the prophecies of His birth in The Old Testament, and Paul’s reference to Christ’s birth in Hebrews.

In your mind, walk with me as we catch up with some travelers on a desert road. What’s that they are looking at? In their hands is a Star Chart. Ancient and yellowed by time, it is a map of more than the stars, it’s a treasure map. It tales how a group of men held onto a promise, older than time itself, and found it fulfilled in a small baby newly born.

We’ll meet these wise men, a group of shepherds, an old man, and a couple whose sole purpose is to protect a newborn Savior. PruittWrites is very excited about this project, and we hope that you will join us for the study of “The Native”.