Appreciate Your Gifts

Appreciate your gifts!  That was the message from my parents after Christmas.  All too often my attention would turn to other things, and my new gifts would lie unused and neglected.  God has given us gifts this Christmas!  A brother, and example, and a Savior are all fantastic gifts that can be found in the Christmas manger.

Our sermon is about Samuel.  What did the Jews, like Samuel, know about Christmas?  The Jews didn’t have Christmas per se.  Jesus hadn’t been born yet.  They knew that the promised Savior would come one day, but the concept of doing annual remembrance or celebration wasn’t a new idea that came with the celebration of Christmas.  The Jews had three annual sacrifices that were commanded by God.  Listen to verse 19 Each year his mother made him a little robe and took it to him.  I can just see Samuel sitting down after a meal with his parents and his mom whips out a package tied with a bow.  Samuel knows what it is, but he’s still excited to see it.  What can’t be lost in the annual trek Hannah took to see her son was the real reason for the trip.  Listen to the verse again. 19 Each year his mother made him a little robe and took it to him when she went up with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice.  They made this trip every year before Samuel was born.

This annual sacrifice was a reminder that something had to die.  We are not told which festival they were celebrating, but many Jews made the trip for the Passover feast.  They made the trip with a lamb that was a year old.  The lamb was probably named Lamby Cakes.  It ate at their table, and played with the children.  The very little ones in the house probably got lamb rides and little lamb kisses.  The lamb grew with the children over that year.  And remember that photo album on the hard drive?  They probably had to settle for sketches and images burned into their memory.  I tell you this because one year for the Elkanah and Hannah household, when they came to give young Samuel his robe, they offered Lamby Cakes as a sacrifice before the Lord.  I’m sure it was heart wrenching and terrible every year.  I’m sure it reminded them that their sins must be paid for with a life.  They would not have to die for their sins.

This is where the comparison becomes very uncomfortable, because as you get to know Jesus better you see that Lamby Cakes and all the other sacrifices offered by Old Testament Christians all pointed ahead to the one Sacrifice who would take away not just the sins of the world, but your sins and mine.  We don’t offer annual sacrifices anymore.  Jesus’ sacrifice was enough for all time.  That doesn’t mean that our sins are any less serious or the price of our peace with God and less dear.  How great is our God’s love?  It is as if our God is saying to us, “appreciate your gifts!”

Please click HERE to find the information on the recreation of the tabernacle.