Advent Day 12: Shepherd King

Advent Day 12: Shepherd King

Key Scripture: 2 Samuel 7:1-13

After forty years in the wilderness, God brought the Israelites into the land he had promised them. Now that they were living in the land, God’s people wanted a human king like the nations around them. They rejected God as their ruler and protector because they wanted a king they could see to go out and fight their battles. God warned his people that a human king wasn’t best for them, but they kept on demanding. So, God gave them what they wanted.

God chose a man named Saul to be king over Israel, but Saul didn’t obey some very important rules God had given him. He didn’t submit himself to God as the true King, so the kingship was taken from him. God chose a young shepherd boy named David to be Israel’s second king. David was “a man after God’s own heart.” This means David loved God and worshipped him alone. But David still had a sin problem. In fact, he sinned in some big, terrible ways. But David confessed his sin and turned back to God.

When David became king of Israel, God was living among His people in a tent called the tabernacle. The tabernacle is where the tablets of stone given to Moses were kept. It was where God’s glory lived. Men called priests worked in the tabernacle. The priests helped the people worship God by offering the blood of animals to him as a way to pay for their sin.  

David wanted God’s glory to live in a real building, not a tent. He wanted to build a house for God called the temple. But the timing wasn’t yet right. Instead, God promised to make David a house (which means a big family of kings) and a kingdom that would last forever! God promised that a king from David’s family would always sit on Israel’s throne.

God kept His promise. Many years later, a child from David’s family was born a king. Like David, he was also a shepherd. He called himself “The Good Shepherd” because, unlike the other kings from David’s family, he had no sin. This Good Shepherd King gave up his life to save the sheep—God’s people. He was the only one able to save humans from sin and rule on David’s throne forever.

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Main Point: David was a shepherd boy chosen by God to be king over his people. David’s heart was fully devoted to the one, true God. God promised David a kingdom that would last forever.

Christ Connection: Jesus is the sinless Son of David. He is the Shepherd King who laid down His life for the sheep and will one day reign forever (Luke 1:31-33; John 10:11).

Advent Day 11: The Glorious Law

Advent Day 11: The Glorious Law

Key Scripture: Exodus 24:12, 15-18; 31:18

God used Moses to lead the Israelites out of slavery, across the Red Sea, and into the wilderness. God had set his people free, so they could have a relationship with him. He was planning to live with his special people and lead them to the land he had promised to give their father Abraham. God was going to bless the Israelites, so they could show his glory to all people on Earth. But for sinful people to live with a holy God, there must be rules. Because God had set them free, the Israelites needed to know how God expected them to live.  

God called Moses to meet him at the top of a mountain called Sinai. God’s awesome glory was seen at Mount Sinai. The people at the base of the mountain saw thunder and lightning, fire and smoke. This reminded them that God is perfect and good. He cannot live in the presence of sin. His people must be holy like he is holy.

Moses met God at the top of the mountain. God gave him the Ten Commandments and all the law, written on tablets of stone with his own finger! These rules showed the people God’s perfect nature. The law reminded the people that they didn’t have to work to earn God’s love. He already loved them! Because God had loved them first, the law commanded the people to love God and worship him only.  It told them to love other people in the same way they loved themselves. God promised to live with his people and bless them if they obeyed his law. The people promised to obey.

Sadly, though, God’s people did not keep their promise. Before Moses even came down from Mount Sinai, they had disobeyed by creating a golden calf to worship. You see, the law showed the people how they were supposed to live, but it didn’t have the power to help them obey it. God’s people needed more than the law. They needed a rescuer to keep the law perfectly in their place and then give them the power they needed to obey.

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Main Point: God gave his people the law, written on tablets of stone. The law showed them how sinners are to live in relationship with a holy God. Because of their sinful hearts, God’s people could not keep his law. It showed them their need for a rescuer.

Christ Connection: Jesus Christ is the rescuer who kept God’s law perfectly in the place of God’s people (Galatians 3:21-26; Matthew 5:17-18).

Advent Day 10: Redeemed by Blood

Advent Day 10: Redeemed by Blood

Key Scripture: Exodus 11:4-7; 12:3-7, 12-13

Jacob’s family, also known as the Israelites, grew very big while living in Egypt. Because Pharaoh was afraid they would take over completely, he made them slaves. The Egyptians forced the Israelites to work very hard and treated them badly for many years. But God had not forgotten his promises. God called an Israelite named Moses to lead his people out of slavery. Moses told Pharaoh to let God’s people go free, and Pharaoh said, “No!”

So, God sent plagues (which are really terrible things) to show Pharaoh he meant business. First, God turned the river to blood. Then, he sent frogs and bugs and hail and darkness all over the land. He made animals die and people break out with sores, but still, Pharaoh would not obey God and let his people go.

God was going to send one more plague—the worst one of all. The firstborn son of every family living in Egypt was going to die. Sin would bring death to every family, but God was going to show mercy to his people. He told the Israelites to kill a perfect lamb and rub its blood on the sides and top of their doors. When God saw the blood on the door, he would pass over that house. The firstborn sons in houses covered by blood would live because the lambs had died in their place.

On the night of the last plague, there was great sadness in Egypt. Many sons died, including Pharaoh’s son. Pharaoh finally gave in and let the Israelites leave Egypt. But it wasn’t long before he changed his mind and came charging after them with his army. The Israelites were camping by the Red Sea when they saw Pharaoh coming. Just when things seemed hopeless, God split the sea and made dry land appear, so his people could get across safely. Then, he made the waters come crashing back down on the Egyptian army.

God saved his people from death by the blood of lambs and set them free from slavery in Egypt. Sadly, though, God’s people were still slaves to their sinful hearts. But one day, many years later, God sent a better Lamb to set them free from sin forever by his blood.

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Main Point: Every firstborn son in Egypt was going to die because Pharaoh refused to obey the one, true God. The Israelite families each killed a lamb and put its blood on the doors of their homes. The sons living in the homes covered by blood lived because the lambs died in their place.

Christ Connection: Jesus Christ is our Passover Lamb! Because he died, we can live. We are set free from sin and death by trusting in him (John 1:29; 1 Corinthians 5:7-8).

Advent Day 9: Evil for Good

Advent Day 9: Evil for Good

Key Scripture: Genesis 45:4-8; 50:18-20

Jacob had twelve sons, but his favorite son was named Joseph. Jacob gave Joseph a special robe of many colors. This made Joseph’s brothers angry. They hated Joseph even more when he told them about his dreams. Joseph dreamed that his brothers would one day bow down to him! The brothers were so angry and full of hate toward Joseph that they sold him for silver to a group of travelers. Joseph was carried far away to the country of Egypt as a slave.

But God had not left Joseph. He was planning to use Joseph in a big way to keep the promises he had made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God helped Joseph tell people what their dreams meant. Joseph was able to explain the meaning of a dream for Pharaoh, the King of Egypt. He told Pharaoh there would be a terrible famine in the land. There wouldn’t be enough food for everyone to live. Pharaoh would need to save up a lot of food beforehand to keep them alive during the famine. Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of this very important job and made him a powerful ruler in Egypt!

Joseph stored up so much food in Egypt that people from other nations came to buy it during the famine, including Joseph’s brothers. When they arrived in Egypt, Joseph’s brothers didn’t recognize him. When Joseph told them who he was, his brothers were upset and afraid. They thought he might treat them badly like they had treated him. But Joseph told them not to fear. He knew the bad things his brothers had done were all part of God’s good plan. God had sent Joseph to Egypt and made him powerful so that Jacob’s family would not starve in the famine. God was taking care of his chosen people! When Jacob heard that his son Joseph was alive, he and all his family moved to Egypt where they had plenty of food to eat.

Many years later, there was another Son in Jacob’s family who was hated by his brothers. These brothers did terrible things to this Son as well. They sold him for silver and even had him killed. But God also used these evil actions as part of his good plan. He used these evil actions to save the world.

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Main Point: Joseph’s brothers treated him badly, but God used their evil actions for good. God sent Joseph to Egypt to save his family from starving in the famine.

Christ Connection: Jesus Christ was the Son from Jacob’s family who was hated and killed by his brothers, but God used these evil actions to save people from every nation on earth (Acts 2:22-24).

Advent Day 8: Ladder to Glory

Advent Day 8: Ladder to Glory

Key Scripture: Genesis 27:41-44; 28:10-17

When Isaac grew up, he got married and had twin boys. The older twin was named Esau, and the younger twin was named Jacob. God chose to use Jacob to continue his plan to grow Abraham’s big family and fill the earth with his glory. But Jacob had a sinful heart like everyone else. He played a mean trick on his father Isaac and his brother Esau. This made Esau so angry that he wanted to kill Jacob. To stay safe, Jacob had to leave home and run away from Esau.

Jacob set out on a journey to his uncle’s house, but the sun went down before he arrived. So, Jacob found a place outside to rest for the night. Using a stone as a pillow, Jacob went to sleep and had a dream. In the dream, he saw a ladder that stretched from the earth to heaven. There were angels going up and down the ladder, and God was at the top. God spoke to Jacob through the dream, making himself known as the God of his father Isaac and grandfather Abraham. God made promises to Jacob just as he had to Jacob’s father and grandfather.

God promised to be with Jacob. He would keep him safe and bring him back to this land where he slept. God promised that Jacob’s family would grow very big and spread across the earth so people from every nation could be blessed.

Through the dream, God was showing Jacob that he would make a way for sinful people to be with God again. Remember how the people tried to make their own staircase to heaven by building a tower at Babel? Well, God showed Jacob that he was the one who would make a way for his people to be with him again. God would provide the ladder!  

God kept his promise. He kept Jacob safe and gave him twelve sons. Those twelve sons and all their many children eventually became the nation of Israel–God’s chosen people! It was through the nation of Israel that God provided the true ladder to heaven. But this ladder didn’t look like the one Jacob saw in his dream. It looked like a person.

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Main Point: God blessed Isaac’s son Jacob. In a dream, God showed Jacob that he would provide a ladder as the way for sinful people to get to God in heaven.

Christ Connection: Jesus Christ is the ladder! Trusting in him is the only way to get to God (John 1:51).

Advent Day 7: Son and Sacrifice

Advent Day 7: Son and Sacrifice

Key Scripture: Genesis 22:1-8

Abraham obeyed God. He and Sarah left home and set out for the land God would show them. But they still didn’t have a child. It started to look like God might not keep his promises after all. But God always keeps his promises. When Abraham and Sarah were very old, God gave them a son. His name was Isaac.

God promised that, through Isaac, he would continue to grow Abraham’s family until they became a blessing to people in every nation! For this plan to work, it was important that Abraham trust God no matter what. Abraham would need to believe God was good and obey his commands even when he couldn’t understand them.

God tested Abraham’s obedience. He asked Abraham to give up his only son Isaac as a sacrifice. A sacrifice was a way for sinful people to worship a perfect, holy God. In a sacrifice, the sinful person kills an innocent animal and gives it to God as an offering for sin. God was asking Abraham to kill his own son as the sacrifice. How could this be right?

Even when he couldn’t understand God’s command, Abraham moved to obey. Abraham knew God was good and would keep his promises even if that meant he would have to bring Isaac back from the dead. Abraham took his son Isaac, and they traveled to a mountain. Isaac carried the wood for the offering, but he noticed they had not brought an animal to sacrifice. Abraham assured his son that God would provide the sacrifice. God always provides what he requires.

Abraham built an altar and tied Isaac on top of it. As he raised the knife in obedience, God said, “STOP!” God never meant for Abraham to kill his son, but now he knew Abraham was willing to obey no matter what. He was willing to give God his only son–the son he loved. When Abraham looked up, he saw a ram caught by its horns in the bushes. God had provided the animal for the sacrifice! Many years later, God provided another sacrifice for sin. This time, he didn’t provide a ram, but he gave his only Son–the Son he loved. This perfect sacrifice paid for the sins of his people forever.

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Main Point: God tested Abraham by asking him to give up his only son Isaac as a sacrifice. Abraham moved to obey, and God provided an animal instead.

Christ Connection: God gave up his only Son Jesus as the last and perfect sacrifice for sin (John 3:16 & Hebrews 10:11-14).

Advent Day 6: A New Family

Advent Day 6: A New Family

Key Scripture: Genesis 12:1-4; 15:1-6

After God confused the languages at Babel, people began to spread out on the earth. But, because of sin, they were still not making his name famous in the world. In fact, many people on Earth did not even know God’s name! But God didn’t give up on his wonderful plan to fill creation with his glory.

Noah had a great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandson named Abram. Abram did not know the one true God, but God knew him. God chose Abram and called him to be the father of a big, new family who would worship the one true God. This family was going to be God’s special, chosen people—the ones who would reflect God’s glory in the world again.

God told Abram to leave his country, his people, and his old way of life. He told Abram to go to a new land that God would give him! God made a covenant (which is a very special promise) with Abram. He promised to bless Abram and his new family. And there’s more! God promised that, through Abram’s family, He was going to bless people from every nation in the world! God even changed Abram’s name to Abraham, which means “father of nations”.

There was only one problem. Abraham and his wife Sarah could not have children. But this was not a problem for God. God took Abraham outside and told him to look up and try to count the stars. God told Abraham that his children would be like the stars in the sky–too many to count! While it seemed impossible, Abraham believed God’s word. He had faith that God would keep his promise.

Although Abraham believed God, he was not perfect. Like all humans, he had a sin problem. God’s blessing wasn’t going to come to all people on earth because of Abraham’s faithfulness. No, God was going to use Abraham’s big family to send someone better—someone perfect. It was through a future child of Abraham, that God would bring his blessing to people everywhere and fill the world with his glory again.

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Main Point: God blessed a man named Abram (later named Abraham) and told him to leave home and start a big, new family. God would offer his grace to the whole world through Abraham’s family.

Christ Connection: Jesus Christ is the son of Abraham through whom all the nations will be blessed. Abraham’s blessing comes to us through faith in Christ (Galatians 3:14, 26-29).