Today’s reading was about the parents of the final prophet before the Messiah, (John the Baptist)–Zechariah and Elizabeth (Luke 1:5-25). We talked about how they had given up on having any children, given their ages, and then were surprised by the angel Gabriel’s visit to Zechariah in the temple. I love a chance to talk about angels with my children, especially the part where they routinely introduce themselves by saying, “Do not be afraid.” I know that if an angel came to me, even that admonishment would not be enough to keep the fear out of my heart! As He did with Abraham and Sarah, God proved that even advanced age is no challenge to Him when He has a task He wants accomplished!
Today’s reading was about Jonah, who seems a rather unlikely prophet. He had a bad attitude, he ran away from God, and he whined. A lot. But it’s stories like these that remind us that God can use any one of us, flaws and all, to accomplish His purposes. The bulk of our reading focused on the well-known whale portion of the story, but I spent some extra time on chapter four, partly because it’s my favorite part of the story, (haven’t we all sounded like Jonah at one time or another, dramatically proclaiming that “we’re so angry that we could die?”), and partly because it really shows God’s mercy to the people of Nineveh, (and their livestock!), especially when He speaks to Jonah in verse 11:
“And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”
Today’s reading was about Daniel (Daniel 6:10-23), who remained faithful to God, even knowing what price could be asked for his faithfulness. I have always liked the story of “Daniel in the Lion’s Den,” mainly because I really like King Darius’s reaction to realizing that Daniel must be fed to the lions:
“May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” Daniel 6:16b
It’s quite a statement of faith from a pagan king, that he recognizes God’s power. And in the end, he is not disappointed, because Daniel’s God does, of course, save him, which results in an even greater statement of faith from the king at the end of chapter six, in which he calls God, “the living God,” and testifies to His power.
Today’s readings were from the prophet with, arguably, the most recognizable Christmas prophecies–Isaiah (Isaiah 2:4; 7:14; 9:2-7). We read several of those passages, including the familiar ones from chapters seven and nine. The children were mystified by the ornament at first, and even I had to think about it for a bit before I realized that it’s supposed to depict the weapons being turned into tools as depicted in Isaiah 2:4.
Today began our series of readings focused on the prophets. We started with Elijah, and the story of him being taken to Heaven in a chariot of fire, (thus the ornament of what Ladybug deemed a “carriage.”), and transitioned into Elisha, who was given a portion of Elijah’s spirit (2 Kings 2:1-14). I was always confused by these two prophets as a child–isn’t it funny how similar their names are, and how they came one right after the other in the Bible? So far my children seem to be smarter than I am, however, and knew as soon as they saw the chariot who the story would be about!
Today’s reading was about Solomon, son of King David (1 Kings 3:3-14). We learned about two things in regards to Solomon. 1). We learned how when given a choice by God, he asked for wisdom, above any other gift he could have received, (and as a result, was given riches, honor, and a long life, as well). 2). We also talked about how it was Solomon’s task to build God’s great temple in Jerusalem, which was used by the Israelites for hundreds of years.
We reached the halfway point with our Jesse Tree today, as there are 28 days in Advent this year, (the most there can be). Fittingly, the reading was about David (2 Samuel 5:1-5), and his anointing as king over all of Israel, which came about seven years after he was made king of Judah. From an earthly standpoint, he was the greatest king Israel ever had, and an ancestor of the greatest King ever–Jesus!
Today’s reading was about the man from whom the Jesse Tree gets its name: Jesse, father of King David, the stump from whom the shoot that is the Messiah comes (Isaiah 11:1-5). The focus of the reading was the prophecy in Isaiah, after Jesse, and his famous kingly descendants had lived, but long before the time of Christ, which stated that the Messiah would come from Jesse’s line:
“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.” Isaiah 11:1
We had a great discussion about how a shoot, something new and growing, can come forth from a stump, which is dead, and how this represents Christ overcoming death and destruction, and giving believers eternal life.
Today we read about Ruth (Ruth 1:15-18). Not the story about her being redeemed by Boaz, as you might expect, but the story of her faithfulness to her mother-in-law, Naomi. I love this story, because it shows just how God can use anyone, regardless of gender, age, or nationality, to do His work. Here was Ruth, a stranger to the Israelites, a foreigner who had worshipped false gods, and yet she came to have faith in the One, True God, followed His will, and ended being the great-grandmother of Israel’s greatest king, and an ancestor of the Messiah! Even though Ruth is one of the Bible’s shorter books, it’s quite a story of faithfulness and redemption, and lays the groundwork for some very important members of Jesus’ family tree.
Today’s reading was about Samson. I actually found this to be one of the odder choices in our Jesse Tree book. I know that his is a well-known story, but as far as being part of Jesus’ family tree? Seems strange to me. It was a good story for foreshadowing, however, in two different ways. First, we talked about his relationship with the Philistines, and that being repeated with David and Goliath. We also talked about his vows as a Nazarite, and how he had that in common with John the Baptist. So, a useful discussion, but it took some work getting there.