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THE JESSE TREE  -  OUR CHRISTMAS TREE

28 ornaments are related to Messianic prophecies. They  connect the Advent Season with God’s faithfulness across 4,000 years of history. The name of the tree is based on Isaiah 11:1. Jesse was the father of King David. This verse speaks of Messiah who will be a descendant of Jesse and King David.

#1: The World. God’s first miracle, Creation, occurred about 6,000 years ago. Before Creation, there was nothing. Creation was the beginning of history, so nothing can be “prehistoric” (Genesis 1:1-2:3; John 1:1-3).

#2: God gave Adam and Eve a home in a beautiful garden with instructions not to eat fruit of a specific tree. The serpent caused Adam and Eve to doubt God. They sinned by disobeying God. An Apple represents the Fall of Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:4-24).

#3: An Ark represents Noah and the Flood (Genesis 6:12-13). God gave Noah instructions for an ark and sent rain to cover the entire earth with water. God saved Noah and his family (8 people) and members of the animal kingdom including dinosaurs.

#4: A Field of Stars represents the Promise God made to Abraham (Genesis 12) that he would be the father of descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky.

#5: God sent an angel to tell Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, and Abraham obeyed without hesitation. Isaac asked his father what animal would be sacrificed, and Abraham answered that God would provide one. After Abraham placed Isaac on the altar, God provided a Ram for Abraham to offer so he wouldn’t have to sacrifice his own son (Genesis 22:1-19).

#6: In a dream, Jacob saw a Ladder from Earth to Heaven. Angels were patrolling the Earth and reporting back to God. God confirmed that Abraham and Isaac’s descendants would be as plentiful as the dust on the ground and spread from east to west (Genesis 27:41–28:22).

#7: The Sack of Grain represents God's providence through His servant Joseph (Genesis Chapters 37-45). God gave Joseph the correct interpretation of Pharaoh’s dreams. Seven fat cows and stalks of grain would be seven years of abundant harvest and the next seven a period of famine. Joseph advised Pharaoh to appoint someone to oversee harvest so enough grain was saved in the first seven years to help Egypt survive famine. Pharaoh appointed Joseph, who became second in authority to Pharaoh.

#8: God used a Burning Bush to call Moses to serve Him. (Exodus 3:1-6, 14).

#9: God sent Moses to Egypt to persuade Pharaoh to free the Israelites, but Pharaoh refused. (Exodus 12:1-17).  The Passover Lamb is the symbol for this event.

#10: On Mount Sinai, God first reminded Moses and Aaron what He has done for them (Exodus 20:2). He then tells them what they need to do to live in relationship with Him and others. We call these instructions the Ten Commandments, the Law given by God (Exodus chapter 20) represented by the Tablets of the Torah.  

#11: A Ram's Horn Trumpet symbolizes the Israelites’ entry into the land God promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Joshua led the Hebrew people from success to success in conquering the land of Canaan with the help of Rahab (Joshua 1:1-11; 2:1-21; 6:1-20). Joshua was obedient and faithful to God. The Canaanite people were defeated, their cities were destroyed including the Fall of Jericho, and the spoils of war were offered to God. In Joshua chapters 23 and 24, God renews His Covenant.

#12: In Judges 6:1-20, God told Gideon he was to lead the Hebrew people against their enemies. Gideon does not think much of God's choice as his tribe is among the smallest. God, of course, realizes this, but wants to emphasize that when victory comes, it comes from God. The Hebrew people will never win if they depend on themselves. A Clay Water Pitcher is the symbol for Gideon’s experience.

#13: Saul is a member of the tribe of Benjamin. His father, a wealthy man, loses several donkeys, and Saul searches but cannot find them. He seeks a holy man in a nearby town to ask for help. While Samuel is conducting the sacrifices, he sees Saul and realizes this is the man God told him about in a dream who will help free the people from the Philistines. (1 Samuel Chapters 10-12) The Crown represents King Saul.

#14: David’s Shepherd’s Crook symbolizes his relationship to God. David wrote a song of faith in God for his continued protection (2 Samuel 22). God is a rock, fortress, deliverer, shield, horn, stronghold, and refuge. God's actions in David's life are like mighty forces of nature aiding him, and David's enemies flee and are destroyed, ground into the dust and trampled. God's commitment to David will not end although David is unfaithful in many ways.

#15: God told Elijah to warn King Ahab to stop worshiping pagan gods. Although Queen Jezebel was killing prophets of Israel, Elijah obeyed God. King Ahab called Elijah ‘the troubler of Israel,’ and Elijah responded by challenging the priests of Baal to a contest with the God of Israel. A Stone Altar reminds us of Elijah’s fight with false gods (1 Kings 18:17-46).

#16: King Ahaz was unfaithful to God, engaging in contemptible practices as sacrificing one of his sons (2 Kings 16:1-4). When Ahaz died, he was replaced by his surviving son, Hezekiah, who tried to make up for his father's unfaithfulness (2 Kings Chapters 16 and 18) remembered by an Empty Tent.

#17: Much of the book of the prophet Isaiah is written in poetic form recording visions God gave him (Isaiah 1:1-20; 6:1-13; 8:11–9:7). Isaiah’s call to holiness is represented by Fire Tongs with Hot Coal.

#18: Jeremiah teaches that people cannot pray faithfully if they continue to oppress immigrants, orphans, and widows. They must stop shedding innocent blood and practicing human sacrifice and must act justly (Jeremiah 7:8-11).
Human Tears represent Sorrow for the Fall of Judah.

#19: Acknowledging that he does not understand God's will, Habakkuk stands ready to hear what God has planned. God assures Habakkuk that no matter what seems to be happening on the surface, God's ultimate plan for the Judeans who live in faithfulness will not be delayed (Habakkuk 2:3). Reminding us of Habakkuk is a Stone Watchtower (Habakkuk 2:1).

#20: Nehemiah was named governor of Judah and given permission to rebuild the Walls of Jerusalem. He rallied the people and rebuilt or restored the walls in fifty-two days (Nehemiah 6:15-16). However, he realized that the people were spiritually lax and must also be rebuilt. Ezra read the Law to the people and helped them understand its demands (Nehemiah Chapters 8-9).

#21: A Scallop Shell reminds us that John was called by God to be a prophet. John wanted people to know that the time for Messiah to come was near, which meant that their priorities in life needed to be reconsidered (Matthew 3:1-6; Luke 3:1-20; Luke 7:18-30).

#22: Mary took risks when she said “yes” to becoming the mother of Messiah (Luke 1:38). She was a young girl living in a small village where every secret was known and every fault criticized. She faced an unknown future. The experience of speaking to God's messenger called “The Annunciation” must have been terrifying in itself. The Lily is the reminder of Mary.

23: After the angel left Mary, she immediately went to see her cousin Elizabeth. Mary learned from Gabriel that Elizabeth would soon have a son. As Mary comes into her presence, Elizabeth experiences the Holy Spirit filling her life. (Luke 1:42-43) recalling words of King David when the Ark of the Covenant was brought back to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:9). Just as the Ark of the Covenant symbolized the presence of the Lord God of Israel, Mary's visit sanctifies Elizabeth's home with the presence of the Lord, Savior of the world. The Mother and Child represents Elizabeth and the baby John the Baptizer (Luke 1:5-25).

#24: The angel told aged Zechariah that he would have a son, and Zechariah asked for proof. God silenced him as proof. When Zechariah's wife Elizabeth conceived, she was grateful to God and said the boy would be called John (“the Lord is gracious”). Elizabeth's relatives objected as no other family members had that name. Zechariah asked for a tablet and wrote ‘His name is John’ (Luke 1:63)–and Zechariah immediately spoke, blessing and praising God. Luke 1:67-79). A Tablet reminds us of Zechariah’s request.

#25: Tools of Joseph the carpenter remind us that God selected the couple, Mary and Joseph, to be the human parents for His heavenly Son Jesus. Matthew 1:18-25 shows that Joseph was a caring, considerate man. He did not want to embarrass pregnant Mary, so he intended to divorce her quietly. Imagine his emotion as he heard from the angel the good news and true identity of Jesus. Joseph continued his caring in times of danger as they escaped to Egypt. Luke speaks of Joseph’s concern for Jesus when they finally found Him in the temple (Luke 2:41-52). Joseph had primary responsibility for Jesus' religious education and taught Him the fundamentals of carpentry.

#26: Luke connects Jesus' birth to the world-wide stage. Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus was praised as a peace-maker by defeating his enemies. Luke contrasts Augustus' accomplishments with Jesus the Savior. Jesus is born in humble circumstances, wrapped in swaddling clothes as a sign of humanity. Jesus was laid in a manger, a feeding trough for animals. The Gospel of Luke is especially concerned for the poor, the outcast, those on the margins of society like the shepherds. They were the first to hear of Messiah’s birth and step out in faith to celebrate His arrival (Luke 2:8-14). A Manger is the symbol for the birth event (Luke 2:1-20).

#27: The Magi were astrologers. The star led them to the presence of Jesus, the young child (Matthew 2:2-11). A Candle is the representational ornament.

#28: The Chi Rho is an early monogram for Christ formed with the first two letters of the Greek word for Christ (“KRistos”). It is a reminder of the crucifixion although not technically a Christian cross. Matthew 1:1-25, Luke 2:1-20, and John 1:1-34 convey Jesus’ genealogy.

 

THE INVITATION
★    You can't depend on your own goodness to get to Heaven. We've all sinned  (Romans 3:23). Jesus paid the penalty for your sins with His death on the cross and His resurrection (John 3:16).
★    To be forgiven and be guaranteed a place in Heaven, you need to repent of sin, confess that you are a sinner, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ in your heart (Acts 2:21).
★    You can use the following prayer or your own words, but you must actually believe in your heart that your prayer is real:
         Lord Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God. I confess that I have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed.
      Please forgive all my wrongdoing and let me live in relationship with You from now on.
      I receive You as my Savior and recognize that the work You accomplished once and for all on the cross was done on my behalf.
      Thank You for saving me. Help me to live a life that is pleasing to You.
                     In Your name I pray, Amen.

    Rev. Dr. Nicholas J. Gray, Pastor   Broadway Baptist Church   Sedalia, Missouri   2015