God had a plan to celebrate the birth of Christ. It began centuries before it actually happened.

God was displeased with the way the Israelites were living and who they were worshipping. As punishment, He allowed Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, to capture Jerusalem and the surrounding area. The king’s army took many to Babylon as slaves. Among them were Daniel, the prophet and three friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.

Daniel 1:17 – “To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.”

King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream and called all of his magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to tell him what he had dreamed and interpret for him. If they could not tell him the dream and what it meant, they would be killed. Daniel 2:5 – “The king replied to the astrologers, “This is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble.”

None of them could tell him his dream. Before they were all to be killed Daniel learned what was about to happen and got word to the king that God would help him interpret the dream. Daniel tells the king what he had dreamed and what it meant. Daniel 2:47 – “The king said to Daniel, “Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery.” The king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished him with many gifts. He also saved many from being killed. Some of them believed in the God Daniel served.

Later the king became furious with Daniel’s three friends: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. There punishment was to be thrown into a fiery furnace. Daniel 3:27 – 29 – “and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them. Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”

More and more believed in the God of Daniel and his three friends. We believe it was Daniel and his friends that prophesized that a baby would be born in Israel that would be a Savior and change the whole world. It is also believed that the astrologers were told to watch the sky for a star that would direct them to the babies’ birth. When that occurred, the Magi bringing gifts, came to Israel to worship and celebrate Christ’s birth.

Matthew 2:1–2 “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” This is how the wise men knew all about Jesus from what they have learned from Daniel and his friends.

God knew that Joseph and Mary would need money. For He knew what King Herod was about to do. 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, frankincense and myrrh.”

When the Magi left, Joseph had a dream to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt and stay there until He was told they could return. Matthew 2:13 – “When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” Having sufficient finances they were able to travel to Egypt and live until they were told to return. After they had escaped, King Herod had every male child, two and under in Bethlehem and its vicinity, killed.

This story is written to show you how far out God plans. The wise men didn’t just happen to come out of nowhere and bring wealth to worship Christ. So what are God’s plans for America? It seems Americans are living very similar to the Israelites when God punished them. Is God as unhappy with us as He was with the Jews? We are no longer worshipping Him as we have in the past and many worship other gods. What do you think He has planned for us? Will He send another Jonah, as He did to Nineveh and warn us to change or be punished? Or is it too late and too many unwilling to REPENT?

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