Tag Archives: history

The Twelve Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…a song I can’t get out of my head.

On the internet today is a chain mail article saying the song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” is a coded song meant to represent twelve concepts from scripture and the early church. Snopes.com got this one right when they debunked this association. Sure, there are twelve ideas we can identify in Christianity with varying numbers associated, and Christians have God hanging on a tree, but this is not what this song is about.

So what’s the big deal about the twelve days of Christmas?

The song itself came out in the 1700s, and there have been many variations of its verses. Some think it was a song meant to be a game of memory where recitation got you prizes and a lapse in memory could have you paying a kiss to your neighbor or some other predetermined consequence. But the gifts mentioned in the song don’t really have anything to do with the Twelve Days of Christmas.

The story goes like this:

Jesus was born on Christmas Day (whatever day of the year it was, it was Christmas). He was born in a stable, wrapped in swaddling cloths (like a newborn Passover lamb), and placed in a feed trough. The manger scenes we see today have Mary and Joseph and Jesus (with a halo) and an angel (with wings) and the shepherds from the fields outside Bethlehem. But this is where the quasi-historically accurate depiction ends.

Most manger scenes I’ve seen come with a set of wise men visiting the newborn King in the manger, but that’s not what the Bible records.

Matthew 2:11

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.

Did you notice where they went to visit the Messiah? A house!!

The twelve days of Christmas begin at Christmas Day with the birth of Jesus and end on January 6 with the visit of the wise men. It is said that the star appeared when Jesus was born, and it took the Magi 12 days to arrive in Bethlehem.

The night before the 6th is considered the “Twelfth Night”, which was made famous by Shakespeare. On that night, some cultures hold a great feast complete with a king cake iced with yellow, purple and green icing to represent the gifts of the wise men. This cake is more commonly used in Madrid Gras in the US.

Some cultures begin with one present on Christmas Day and give one present each day until the 6th of January, celebrating the whole Christmas season encompassed in the stories within Matthew and Luke.

In our culture, we usually focus more on the days leading up to Christmas than the days after Christmas. By the day after Christmas, we’re exhausted.

BUT…

For those of you who feel guilty every year because you don’t take down your Christmas decorations until after New Year’s Day, leave them up until January 6 and remember the coming of the wise men. If you have a Nativity Scene, maybe leave the wise men out and add them on January 6th for a week or so.

There are many ways we can have fun with all the stories and traditions surrounding Christmas. But what is most important is that we don’t forget to celebrate the Joy that comes because God became flesh and made his dwelling among us. Merry Christmas, and may your True Love (Jehovah) bring you hope through Jesus this season.

Advertisements

Blind Faith Is Not Required

I was having a conversation one time with a person who was trying out “this Jesus thing” for the first time. She was going on about how hard it is to believe in God and the church and Jesus and such.  At the end of her rant, she looked at me and said with undertones of disgust, “I know. I’m just supposed to have blind faith. At least that’s what other preachers have told me.”

It broke my heart. Blind faith isn’t expected or required. It is not even a biblical concept. 

I don’t have faith in Jesus just because some preacher said I should. I don’t believe in the stories in the bible just because I was raised with these stories.

Sometimes, when preachers teach a certain concept, they come across as if to say that to believe any differently would be wrong and stupid. If a person teaches the scripture without concern for what science has proven, then they are inconsistent with the reality of creation. If there is no historical fact or evidence as a foundation for my faith, then what hope is in that faith? What makes that faith any different than believing in Transformers or Voltron?

The church is struggling to gain ground with people in the scientific community because of the inconsistencies with her teachings and the call to “blind faith”. 

But this doesn’t have to be so. 

When you read the creation account in Genesis 1-3, do you read a literal seven days or an undetermined period of time? Does it matter? The creation account in Genesis isn’t a scientific treatise on how God created the earth. In fact, it is written as poetry. It is meant to point us to the Creator and show His majesty. Could that have happened over 4 billion years ago? Sure! How about 10,000 years ago? Maybe, but that would mean God peppered the ground with lots of science that doesn’t jive with the historical timeline. That seems a bit out of character for God. 

In either case a person can still believe in the one, true, supreme God, Creator of the universe!

What about Jesus? 

Belief in Jesus is more on the historical basis. History shows He existed. The Jews and Muslims alike have laws and writings about Him. There is no question as to the historical truth of Jesus. There is not even a question as to whether or not He was crucified. 

The question is whether or not He was raised from the dead. 

Historically speaking, there were eyewitnesses of His resurrection that testified to its truth. The writings about the resurrection were circulated during the time people were still living who could have refuted the claim if it were false. 

As for the bible itself, great historians like H. G. Wells and Will Durant (who were both atheists) testify to the historical reliability of the biblical account.  

In fact, Christianity is the only religion that it would be possible to prove false. It is the only one couched in history with historically verifiable events to back up its claims. You can’t prove the concepts of Buddhism or the promises of Mohammed or even the historical claims of the Book of Mormon looking at history. 

My faith is not based on some emotional event in my life. I have had those, but my faith comes from the knowledge I have regarding science and history.  My faith comes from the experiences I’ve had and seen in others. 

I don’t have blind faith, and neither should you. God gave you a brain to use. Don’t check it at the door in the name of religion or to follow some charasmatic preacher. Even the scripture says “test everything”. 

These are only a few of the concepts that solidify my faith. If you want to know more about building a foundation of knowledge that leads to faith, feel free to contact me. I love you, and I hope you grow in your understanding of the world around you, and I hope that understanding leads you to unshakable faith. 


The Greatest Story Ever Told

20130304-095628.jpg

There is a book to which the best sellers on the New York Times list can never compare. It is the best seller of all time. No book has ever come close. But it is seldom read.

That’s right. It’s the bible.

Many of us have them on our shelves. Most of us have more than one copy. We have them in different fonts and translations. We have children’s versions for our kids. We have them in the pews of our churches. But they function more like dust-gatherers than tools for growth.

This March, on the History channel, a new mini-series is showing on Sunday evenings. It is titled “The Bible”. It will be shown in five episodes, two hours long each. I’m pretty excited about it.

Being able to read the bible is wonderful. Being able to see it is amazing. The first episode has already been aired at the writing of this article, and it was wonderful. Did it include everything I would have included if I had made the show? No! But I didn’t make the show. Is it a great conversation piece for those who are less exposed to what the bible says? Yes!

We need to be people of the word. The people who were considered as noble people in the New Testament, the Bereans, were considered as such because they searched the scriptures to verify the truth.

We Christians claim to know the truth, but many of us can’t even name the 66 books of the bible. How familiar are you to the stories therein? If I asked you what the book of Zephaniah was about, would you know? Do you take what the preachers say at face value, or do you search the scripture to verify their truth claims?

I encourage everyone who hears me teach to verify what I teach. I want to be held accountable to the word of God. It’s not my word I claim to teach, it’s His, and I want to be true to it.

This week, I want to encourage you to get in the word. If you’re watching “The Bible” read the scriptures that coincide with the stories and see what else they didn’t have time to put in their series. There is so much more.

If you’d like to see the series but don’t want to watch it alone or don’t have cable or dish, then you’re welcome to come watch it with us at the Aztec church of Christ. Whatever you do, be in the Word – God’s Word.

I’d love to pray for you and talk to you more about the saving message of Jesus found in the bible. If you’d like to talk, feel free to call me at the office at 505-334-6626 or email me at mrjdobbs@gmail.com. Blessings be yours as you dive into the greatest story ever told.


A Magnificent Book: the Uniqueness of the Bible

20110607-022614.jpg

This summer during our Wednesday night classes, the teens at Nichols St. Church of Christ are participating in lessons exploring the validity of the message of the bible and Christianity. It is my firm belief that Christians should be intellectually sound in their belief. We shouldn’t just accept some preacher or teacher’s message just because he or she said it. Instead, we should know for ourselves what we believe and be able to defend that belief.

As a result of studying for the Wednesday classes, I have been reading “The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict” by Josh McDowell. If you haven’t read this, I highly recommend it, though it is a heavy book (literally and figuratively). The information in this article comes primarily from that book.

As books are concerned, the bible is an anthology of sorts. It is a conglomeration of books written by a variety of authors over a 1500 year span of time. It is not uncommon for libraries and publishers to group writings together in an anthology. Many times these writings have a similar subject or time period of origin.

The bible is such a diversely written book that it stands apart as unique among the rest of all literature.

First of all, it was written by over 40 authors from all walks of life: kings, tax collectors, prisoners, rabbis, shepherds, politicians, doctors, poets, musicians, secretaries, fishermen, etc… The men who wrote the bible would not be the kind of people that would normally hang around with one another or even share many of the same circles of influence. Not to mention, these men wrote in different time periods over that 1500 year span of time.

The bible was written on three different continents: Asia, Africa, and Europe. It was written in times of peace and times of war. It was written from the perspectives of joy and despair, courage and fear, confusion and certainty. It was written in a dungeon, on a hillside, in a palace, in the wilderness, while traveling, from inside prison walls, and from the exile of an island banishment.

The bible was written in three languages. Most of the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, the language of the Israelites. Parts of Daniel and Ezra and even some of the last words of Jesus on the cross were recorded in Aramaic. This was the common language of what we consider as the Near East. The New Testament was primarily written in Koine Greek. This was the common language of the known world during the first century. This Greek language was in the days of Jesus much like English is around the world today – a language spoken by the masses.

As far as the literary style of the bible is concerned, it is extremely diverse. The bible is written in poetry, historical narrative, song, biography, autobiography, prophecy, parable, allegory, didactic treatise, personal correspondence, memoirs, law, and satire. It is an extremely diverse book.

In the process of writing the 66 books of the bible, the authors discuss hundreds of different controversial topics. Given the time span between writers as well l as the various other social distinctions that differ among them, one would think that these hundreds of topics would come with varying opinions on each subject and contradict one another. This is not the case. Each of these subjects is brought with harmony among all the writers.

Lastly, given the breadth of variety in the writing of the book, such an anthology should have no pattern. Each story should be unique and not fit with each other. Maybe a few would fit together when they had been written within the same time period or in the same place, but in the case of the bible all 66 books share the same storyline. The 66 smaller books make up one continuous story that begins in Genesis and still goes on today. In this book there is also one main character that is found throughout – the messiah – Jesus. You can find mention of Jesus in Genesis 1 and Revelation 22.

There is no other book in history that can claim the statistics that the bible holds. There is no other book in history that continues to be bought and reprinted at the rate of the bible.

Does this prove the historical reliability of the bible? Not exactly, but one needs to at first appreciate the uniqueness of the book. Then, we will deal with where it came from and whether or not we can trust it.

Want to experience this scholarly journey with us? You’re invited to my classes. May you ask lots of questions and keep seeking truth, and may it be revealed to you as well.

If you have any comments or questions about this article, feel free to comment at http://www.mrdobbs.org. If you have anything I can do for or pray with you about, feel free to contact me at 245-1611 or at jddobbs@Verizon.net. God bless you all!


%d bloggers like this: