By Pastor Stephen W. Pyle
Elkins Church of God of Prophecy
Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the true reason for the season. To all, a blessed celebration and happy 2014.
Our eldest son, David, daughter, Stephanie, and boyfriend, Dan, spent Thanksgiving with mom and dad in Elkins. We exchanged Christmas gifts and skyped with our son, Jonathan, who resides in southern California. Jon is leaving active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps to pursue other occupational interests.
Please remember to pray for all of us, especially Jon and his wife, Amber. Stephanie's tonsils and adenoids were surgically removed in September. She is singing and breathing better. Praise God.
Recently this writer became acquainted with Evangelist Phil Patchett from Rhodesdale, on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Phil and I are kindred spirits, Christian brothers and true friends. His father, Pastor William Patchett, leads Brookview, Md.'s, Evangelical Bible Church.
My dad, Evangelist George W. Pyle, was pastor here at EBC from about 1953 to mid-1957. I still remember as a youngster, the many former church congregants and walking the sandy Shiloh Camp Road near Hurlock, Dorchester County. Gasoline was about 10-15 cents a gallon. My parents would say, "Give me a nickel's worth of gas."
Harriet Tubman's Underground Railroad began it's freedom trail in Dorchester County. Tubman, the woman called "Moses," lived there on a southern plantation. The famous western lady sharpshooter, Annie Oakley, also resided nearby.
Dorchester County would be an historical excursion for anyone traveling to the mid-Atlantic coastal resorts in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. In 1957, we relocated to Granite, near Woodstock, Md., the birthplace of Henry Gassaway Davis. Our most important destination should be heaven. Thank you Lord for preparing a place for us, not made with hands.
Brother Phil Patchett has written some award-winning poetry and is currently writing his memoirs, "The Journey." We would like to share this seasonal poem (used by permission) titled "Embers In The Fireplace":
"Like a fire in the fireplace slowly but surely dying out, embers in that fireplace still burn without a doubt. And I see in those burning embers, that which keeps hope alive, As in a desperate world we struggle to survive.
"Precious memories, daily drops off heaven's dew, All remind me of God's faithfulness, true. Looking back over the 'years' of God's faithfulness, to my eyes bring tears.
"And for me, at Thanksgiving and at Christmas, the embers in that fireplace ever burn so bright. How we need those embers to burn in a world as dark as night.
"Like a guiding light, embers in the fireplace I see, and the warmth of the embers, like a garment, cover me.
"In the world there is doom and fear. But there is still embers in the fireplace: hope still lives here.
"Maybe, that's part of my calling in life. Keeping those embers in the fireplace, burning bright. Maybe, just maybe: someone else will see the light."
If you would like more information about Phil's poems and his other ministries, please drop him a note: Evangelist Phil Patchett, 5166 Rhodesdale, Eld Road, Rhodesdale, Md. 21659. Lord willing, we want to occasionally include more of his talent in future projects.
Matthew 2:10, "And when they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy." How about those 'Wise Men' who traveled from far-away Persia to see the child Jesus moe than two millenia ago? Though Matthew's Gospel Chapter 2 mentions wise men and three gifts, we must remember that there were three gifts, but not necessarily "three wise men."
These specific "Magi" (or "magic, magician") were known to travel up to groups of 40-50 in a caravan. Those wise men, traveling from what is now modern Iraq, or then Mesopotamia, as Today's Dictionary of the Bible expresses: "Were a class of Persian priests devoted to astrology, divination and the interpretation of dreams."
These men fulfilled OT prophecies. Biblically, Almighty Jehovah God, His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit abhor horscopes, the zodiac and fortune telling, but influenced them with a dream not to return to Herod as they headed for home.
On the night of Christ's birth in a stable in Bethlehem long ago, the angel aroused shepherds watching their flocks with "Good Tidings of Great Joy." According to the time line mentioned in Matthew Chapter 2, the wise men didn't view Christ at the stable, but followed the star to Joseph's house arriving months later, when Jesus was nearly two years old.
Matthew 2:11 speaks of a house, not a stable: "And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him, gold, and frankincense, and myrrh."
To reiterate, verses 12-18 explains a dangerous situation concerning the safety of baby Jesus, all young Bethlehem children two and younger, and these star-gazing travelers themselves: "And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed unto their own country another way.
"And when they were departed, behold the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.
"When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night and departed into Egypt. And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the Prophet (Hosea 11:5), saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son." King Herod was to say the least, a "tyrant of tyrants, brutish with his own family, and a stranger to humanity."
Vs 16: "Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the ("children" kjv) that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from 2 years old and under according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.
"Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremie (Jeremiah) the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and would not be comforted, because they are not."
As mentioned, OT prophecies frequently point to these events surrounding Christ's incarnation. The wise men's journey from the east is foreshadowed in Psalms and Isaiah. Isaiah Chapter 60 is rich with prophecy about the future coming of Christ, His Kingdom, the Bride of Christ, The Israel of God, His Elect, The Gloroius Church of Prophecy, Holy Zion, and these Gentile wise men!
Vs 1: "Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee." Vs 3: "And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising."
Vs 6 declares: "The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they shall come; they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the Lord."
Psalms 72:10: "The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts."
Matthew 2:10; "And when they saw the Star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy." An ensign (flag) of the Father's House, His banner of Truth and Love, displays a star, sceptre, and crown.
Those Leviticus and OT mentioned colors of red, scarlet (purple), blue, and fine white linen, all point to the Millennial Reign and Kingdom of Christ on this earth and I believe, will be forever displayed in that four-square eternal city of New Jerusalem.
Numbers 24:17; "I shall see him (Christ), but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: There shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners, of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth."
"Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God almighty, Early in the morning, our song shall rise to thee. Holy, Holy, Holy, merciful and mighty, God in three persons, blessed trinity."
Lanny Wolfe has penned these musical words: "When they saw the star, they rejoiced with great joy, when I saw the light I rejoiced, When you see the light, you'll rejoice with great joy, you'll rejoice with exceeding great joy."
In closing we find that Joseph, Mary, and Jesus return to Israel, into the parts of Galilee. Matthew 2:23: "And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene."
Rejoice in the Lord, and again we say Rejoice. Christ is risen and will soon return again, not as a babe, but crowned King of kings, and Lord of lords. Wise men still seek him today.