Jesus though the King of all Kings, didn’t come down to earth in the way we might have expected him to. The Immortal and Eternal King came down in the form of a baby born in humble circumstances. The picture of Christmas is a picture of humility. Many are talking of the difficulties we will have this year and it is true; it will be a sad time for those who have lost loved ones; it will be a lonely time for those isolated; there will not be so many at the parties; it will be a humble event and perhaps a little more like what it represents.
Jesus was born into a line of kings which we are reminding ourselves about in Matthew’s opener:
“Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, Amon the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jeconiahand his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.” (Matthew 1 v 10-11)
Throughout the genealogy we see kings who humbled themselves before God and others who didn’t.
He was 12 years of age when he became king and his reign lasted 55 years in Jerusalem. In that time he became the cruellest of kings. Every type of perversion Manasseh practiced and promoted. The evil he committed is described in 2 Chronicles 33 and it is horrific. The Chronicler says ‘The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention.” (33:10) The erecting of the Asherah pole in the Temple where God had promised that Israel would not be taken from the land so long as they ‘do everything that I commanded concerning all the laws, decrees and ordinances given through Moses’ (v8) was a final spit in the face of God. Manasseh and God’s Word appeared to be a million miles apart. Yet God’s Word was closer than he realised and God’s judgment fell on Manasseh just as God had said it would. He was taken into Babylon humiliated with a hook in his nose and shackles around his feet. And yet it was in his distress that his heart began to turn back to God and mercy fell on him. God can still be found in the dungeons of life. God brought him back and Manasseh reformed the nation from its perverse ways.
Manasseh had humbled himself and started many reforms but it never impacted his son. Amon was like the early Manasseh in terms of being an arrogant and evil king. The Chronicler says in 33:22 ‘Unlike his father he did not humble himself before the Lord.’ His reign was short. His closest loyal officials showed they were not who he thought they were and killed him. All that is written about him is to be found according to 2 Kings 21:25 ‘in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah’. This historical book is lost just as Amon was. Lost and forgotten. His chance to humble himself gone.
It was in his 18th year as king and as the temple repairs were still going on that a book had been found excavated from underneath the rubble. This book was not the historical annals of the kings. It was so much more than that. It was the book of the Law of Moses, most probably Deuteronomy.
Josiah was known for being the reforming king. But this find was the greatest event of his life. What was his response? The humbling of himself before the Lord.
2 Chronicles 34:27 “Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before God when you heard what he spoke against this place and its people, and because you humbled yourself before me and tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the Lord.”
Kings who lived by God’s Word in humility and Kings who ignored God’s Word at their peril. That’s what happened in the family line of Jesus as they waited for the Word to arrive.
What place have you given the Bible in your life?
The Jews always stand when the Torah is lifted up. When it is carried around the congregation they turn towards it but it is never touched. In the 16th century a Jewish mystic described the Torah in this way, “When one carries holy books, one should act as though one is carrying the clothes of the king before the king” (Sefer Reshit Hokhmah).
If a Torah book falls to the ground by accident then many Jews will fast or will give money and not just the person who accidentally dropped it but even someone who witnessed the fall.
Muslims perform a ritual washing of their face, hands and feet before they read the Qur’an which is wrapped in cloth. They learn parts of it by heart with the goal to be able to recite the entire Qur’an and take the title Hafiz.
I have seen in other nations of the world the Bible being handled by Christians in a reverent way. Often kept in a high place of the home or church and wrapped in a beautiful cloth. If it falls to the floor it is picked up, kissed and placed carefully back on the high shelf.
The kings teach us that God’s Word should not be ignored or lost. For when we humble ourselves before it and allow the Bible to read through our lives then God will be leading us into His blessing. The Bible is our defence and our guide.