Advent: Day 22

December 22, 2023 | Three Gifts

Do you ever struggle with the idea of giving gifts at Christmas? Maybe it feels too consumeristic, or like you are missing the real reason for the season? If so, then let’s look at two instances of gift-giving in the Bible.

The most famous account we all know about is the presents the Magi brought to Jesus. They brought frankincense, myrrh, and gold (Matthew 2:11), which each held symbolic meaning. Frankincense was used as incense for worship in the Temple; it symbolized that Jesus is the new High Priest. Myrrh, was a fragrant oil, used to anoint dead bodies and symbolized what Jesus came here to do. And gold represents his kingship and was an extremely valuable asset. The Magi were acknowledging that God had arrived and was present with us.

Not only that, but an interesting side note is that soon after the magi visit Mary and Joseph, Joseph is warned in a dream to flee to Egypt because Herod is going to try to kill Jesus. How fortunate they have the money to relocate in the dead of night and build a home in Egypt for at least two years. Convenient? Yes. Coincidence? Likely not.

Now, while the gifts of the Magi are incredibly relevant to Christmas, they aren’t the only time three significant gifts were given in the Bible.

In 2 Samuel, we read how David brought the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem. This was an incredibly important endeavor, and the story of bringing it to Jerusalem is riveting; a man dies because he touches the Ark while trying to keep it from falling, and David and the men helping move it realize how sacred it is and end up making a sacrifice every six steps. It was a 12-mile journey. This is such a big deal because when the Ark arrives in Jerusalem, it means that God had come to dwell with them.

As the Ark enters the city, we read that David dances wildly and is accused of being undignified in his celebration. But he also does something important to commemorate the moment. This is what it says in 2 Samuel 6:19

They brought the Ark of the Lord and set it in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the Lord. After he had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord Almighty. Then he gave a cake of bread, and a good piece of flesh, and a raisin cake to each person in the whole crowd of Israelites, both men and women. And all the people went to their homes. -2 Samuel 6:19

David blessed the crowd and gave each person three gifts—bread, meat, and cake. The bread would be familiar as it was a Passover staple, helping people to remember how God saved them from the Egyptians. It was a reminder of God’s power to save. The meat was symbolic of God’s faithfulness to provide. Raisin cakes were made by pressing and drying raisins into a solid block, and symbolized God’s goodness.

To enjoy the gifts, we read that all the people departed to their houses to refresh themselves with the provisions David had given them and to celebrate that God was present with them.

Three meaningful gifts to celebrate that God has come. First when God came with the Ark, second when Jesus was born.
And so, this Christmas season, may we celebrate unashamedly and see to it that no one leaves our celebrations empty-handed.

December 23, 2023 | A bush in the desert
December 24, 2023 | The Christmas story