Thanks for joining in our family tradition! We are using Advent (December 1st to the 24th) to understand why God came in incarnate form at Christmas; specifically, we are focusing on God’s covenant promises to understand His plan for the redemption of all humankind. It really is amazing to see all the clues God wove into human history before His incarnate form and Person, Jesus, was born on the original Christmas Day. It is even more amazing that He had you and I, far removed in space and time from the happenings in Bethlehem, in mind on that Day. I hope you see yourself and God’s love for you in this 24-post series and that this Christmas will be the best one you have ever known 🙂
Today’s Calendar Piece is the Sparkling Leaf:
December 3rd | Leafy Clothes
(This devotional is adapted from a child-oriented one I have written and intend to publish online. I’ve directed the content below more toward adults. If you want to read it to children, you may need to avoid reading certain sentences or paraphrase it yourself.)
Bible Background: The Hebrew word for naked in the above passage is now “Eyrom”: this is a complete nakedness (Reuben, Dick. The Garments of the Priesthood. [DVD]. 1995.) In other words, Adam and Eve lost their spiritual garments after they sinned (disobeyed God). Clothing is often used in Scripture as a symbol of a special status or relationship (see Bible Study Question below). When Adam and Eve lost their covering, they lost their status and their relationship with God. Notice what happened as soon as their spiritual garments disappeared: Adam and Eve felt shame and fear.
Bible Study Question: Read Ezekiel 16:8, 14. God is using the analogy of a husband and wife to describe His spiritual care and material provision for the people of Jerusalem. Where did her clothes come from and what did they represent?
Today’s Devotional: Adam and Eve ate fruit from the tree that God told them not to eat from. The command to enjoy all of creation except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was the basis of their “understanding” or relationship with God (I am the Creator, you are My creation: here is My good plan for you). Adam and Eve stepped outside of their relationship with God by violating the terms in which that relationship had been established. In so doing they unwittingly uncovered themselves from His protection and provision and decided to rely on their own knowledge, ability, and resource. In effect, Adam and Eve had been caught in the act of cheating on God due to an empty promise of self-reliance and complete autonomy. Eve purposefully decided not to trust God: instead, she believed what the serpent told her because she wanted it to be true: she wanted to be her own god, making her own decisions based on her own knowledge. Adam should have stopped her or declined the same offer, but he likewise found the prospect agreeable. What Adam and Eve did not realize–and what we often fail to realize–is that the benefits of God are always connected to a relationship with Him. He is the Source of those blessings: relationship (or covenant) is the conduit through which those blessings are best received and protected. The Serpent (the Devil) knew this: his goal was to undress Adam and Eve so they would no longer be blessed and protected by God and would become vulnerable to his attack. In the same way, Satan–through various deceptive means in our culture and personal experiences–gives us the same offer: complete autonomy to decide on our own what is right and wrong with the false guarantee that this leads to happiness. As Adam and Eve learned, it led to nothing but fear, shame, paradise lost and something much worse…a broken relationship with the One who had done nothing but love and care for them. In their attempt to recover what had been lost, they sewed fig leaves together. It may have covered their bodies, but it did nothing to restore their glory, honor, and majesty. They were still empty, still unsatisfied, still naked.
Application: We are not so different than Adam and Eve. We try to cover ourselves with “fig leaves” all the time. A fig leaf is anything we do to replace that sense of purpose, fulfillment, and abiding joy. It is also what we do to cover up who we really are; a complete denial of our true self or state of being. We deny that we are vulnerable, we deny that we need God, we say that we have our own understanding of Him and that we are OK. However, those claims are empty because God did not give them to us: sooner or later, we have to admit that we made them up. God never told us that we have a special agreement with Him that is different than everyone else’s. He never appeared to us in a dream or vision to tell us we are doing just fine. We refuse to accept we are naked and therefore we make up a claim that helps us to ignore or deny our nakedness. Sometimes we act religious or super-spiritual, as though that were an acceptable place-holder for God, as though our self-reliant religious activity were a substitute for the genuine achievement of knowing Him. This Christmas it is so easy to wear a new suit, dress to the nines, go to church, and act as if everything is cool between us and God. But if we haven’t come to God on His terms, as our Creator with a better plan for our lives, then His benefits are not for us. Our claims to being “OK” and our attempts to fill the void of His presence in our lives are just like those fig leaves: fragile, crumbling, and insufficient to support themselves. This Christmas, let’s put down the fig leaves. Let’s admit we are “naked”; let’s admit we are not “OK”. Let’s admit that what we are doing, while fun or rewarding or good, is no substitute for an honest relationship with the God who has so much more in mind for us than we can ever imagine or acquire in our own understanding or strength. He is not holding out on us, He is not holding us back. He wants to propel us further than we could ever achieve under our own steam. He has a wonderful plan for our lives and it begins THIS Christmas 🙂
Prayer: Father God, thank you for finding me. You see me as I am, fig leaves and all, and yet You desperately long to put me back into right relationship with You even though I still want to do things my own way. Please reveal to me the futility of anything I am doing to replace You or set myself up as my own god. Help me to draw close to You and follow Your plan for me so I can experience true joy this Christmas. In Jesus’ Name; Amen.
Family Activity: Make a skirt out of construction paper leaves and dance to the tune of Old MacDonald Had a Farm:
“I’m wearing fig leaves:
it’s not OK!
They poke me at night
and fall off in the day!
Leaves fall off here
and fall off there;
here a leaf,
there a leaf,
everywhere a leaf-leaf!
I’m wearing fig leaves,
it’s not OK!
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