The Twelve Days of Christmas is a classic but we often forget to think about what in the world the song is talking about? The song is so ridiculously outlandish and absurd that many say if one were to actually receive all the gifts given to them it would cost them a small fortune. PNC banking group has taken the song and used it as a tool to teach economics, rules of inflation, and money management. According to them in 2014, A Partridge in a Pear Tree costs $207.68 (+3.8%). Check it out. It is quite an entertaining website.
If you are like me you often ask the question why? Who wrote this song and why?
The Twelve Days of Christmas was originally written in order to teach children Christian doctrine. According to legend it was used during times of persecution when open practice of faith was forbidden.
“From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics.” - gotthebible.com
So the song was written as a “secret code” to teach Christian truths to children.
The actual 12 days represent the days between Christmas on December 25th and Epiphany on January 6th. Epiphany was the traditional celebration commemorating the arrival of the Wise Men. Yes, those wise men in the nativity scenes didn’t actually show up till years later. However, it helps to add a little diversity into our nativity scenes by including them and their camels.
These gifts that are given on each day are not particularly representative of anything in their choice but rather in their number. Most people believe the birds, rings, and animals are nothing more than memory tricks to help with the numbers that represent Christian doctrines. But the act of giving a gift is a solid Christmas gift in that Jesus Christ is the ultimate gift from God to save humanity. So hopefully this will shed new light on our misinterpretation of this seemingly “silly” song.
|GIFTS||WHAT THEY REPRESENT|
|Partridge in a pear tree||Jesus Christ, who died on a tree for our sins|
|Two turtledoves||The Old and New Testaments|
|Three French hens||Faith, hope, and love(the three abiding virtues according to I Cor. 13) or the three Wise Men|
|Four calling birds||The four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John)|
|Five golden rings||The Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible|
|Six geese a-laying||Six days of creation (Genesis 1)|
|Seven swans a-swimming||The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:6-8)|
|Eight maids a-milking||The eight Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11)|
|Nine ladies dancing||The nine fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)|
|Ten lords a-leaping||The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17)|
|Eleven pipers piping||The eleven faithful apostles (Acts 1:13)|
|Twelve drummers drumming||The twelve points of the Apostles’ Creed|
I am learning a lot about Christian liberty lately from my study in I Corinthians. I have complied a few thoughts, verses, and lyrics that have got me thinking over the past few weeks. Hope they will get you thinking as well.
Matthew Henry’s Commentary speaking of I Corinthians 10:23-33
Note: The welfare of others, as well as our own convenience, must be consulted in many things we do, if we would do them well.
II. He tells them that what was sold in the shambles they might eat without asking questions. The priest’s share of heathen sacrifices was thus frequently offered for sale, after it had been offered in the temple. Now the apostle tells them they need not be so scrupulous as to ask the butcher in the market whether the meat he sold had been offered to an idol? It was there sold as common food, and as such might be bought and used; for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof (v. 26), and the fruit and products of the earth were designed by him, the great proprietor, for the use and subsistence of mankind, and more especially of his own children and servants. Every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer, 1 Tim. 4:4, 5. To the pure all things are pure, Tit. 1:15. Note, Though it is sinful to use any food in an idolatrous manner, it is no sin, after such abuse, to apply it, in a holy manner, to its common use.
Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 2263). Peabody: Hendrickson.
I Cor. 10:19,20 — “What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God.”
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses made us alive together with Christ– by Grace you have been saved-- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Eph. 2:4-6
- Loved us
- Saved us
- Raised us
Have you ever thought about that?
Why did God go through all the trouble to stick with us good for nothing mess-ups?! Well, the answer is found in verse 7 and also in Psalm 67:2
So that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:7
that your way may be known on earth,
your saving power among all nations. Psalm 67:2
The answer isn’t as fuzzy feely as you might have hoped.
- God saved us to promote his own grace and kindness.
- God saved us to show his saving power to everyone everywhere.
- God saved us to glorify himself.
At first, I had a hard time coming to grips with this megalomaniac I was reading about here. But it all started to make sense to me through the following illustration that just popped into my brain the other day.
It’s the 4th quarter, it’s the last 10 seconds, it’s the last shot to win the game. Who do you want taking that shot? I would want my best player taking that shot. I would want the best player in the world taking that shot.
It’s a penalty kick in the 93rd minute of the game. It’s tied 1-1. You make this penalty kick and you win the game. Who do you want taking that kick? The best player, obviously.
For me this whole idea becomes very clear to me when I take into account my inabilities and God’s supreme abilities. God is the best ever.(period) There is nothing else like him. He calls himself I AM THAT I AM in order to insure our awe (pick gaping jaw off of ground) at his infinite state of being. He was there before the foundation of the world. He is. We are. He is the Uncaused Cause. We only exist because he exists. The very notion of existence exists because he exists. Okay. You get the point.
It’s the end of time. You only got one shot at death. Jesus steps up to the plate.
He’s pinch hitting for me. Jesus is up to bat for me.
So when we win. (Revelation says so) I’m glad He gets the glory.
Because He deserves it. He hit the home-run I would never have been able to hit.
All glory and honor to your name.
This is a short 20 minute challenge I preached to the students at DCA today. If you have a few minutes please listen to it. I have also put below here the handout I refer to in the sermon for your benefit.
Disclaimer: I have a cold and I only had a 2 days to prepare for this because I was filling in for another teacher. But I trust it will still be a blessing to whomever hears it.
Sermon handout by Jordan Moody adapted from The Cross Centered Life by C. J. Mahaney
“Unloading Condemnation: How the Cross Removes Guilt and Shame” (Chapter 4)
- Check your bags
- Our bags are the burdens we carry with us
- Condemnation may show itself in grief, guilt, self-denial, regret.
- Without Jesus condemnation is normal and we deserve to be punished for it.
- Low-Grade Guilt
- Are you more aware of your sin than you are of God’s grace, given you through the cross?
- “Don’t buy the lie that cultivating condemnation and wallowing in your shame is somehow pleasing to God, or that a constant, low-grade guilt will somehow promote holiness and spiritual maturity.”
- An Uninvited Guest
- Luke 7:36-50
- Our Many Sins
- Though our sins may be like scarlet they are made white as snow.
- Her guilt is gone. She loves much because she’s been forgiven much.
- Lose your luggage and beat condemnation
- Confess your sin to God.
- Then believe in Him.
- Don’t be paralyzed by condemnation but rather exalt God’s grace over your condemnation.
Depression creeps into the life of a believer knowingly and more often than not, unknowingly. But for me, depression seems to drive its way into my heart and park its pity party right at the center of my life. I seem unable to shake the doubts of my in abilities coupled with my seemingly insignificance all the while feeling helplessly hopeless completely inept at succeeding in this life. But whenever I am struggling with these “feelings” I am drawn to the Word of God. It is here that I find rest from my doubts and emotions. It is here in the pages of scripture that I feel God is speaking to me because he actually cares about me. It is here I find that He wants what is best for my life even though it may not seem likely at this moment. He leads me through still waters rejuvenating my soul. Lately, those still waters funneled me towards the pages of 2 Timothy where I found verses 6 and 7 particularly empowering.
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:6,7
Here I can find true rest. I know God has called me to preach His word and to serve Him with my life but when and where this happens is completely up to Him. But I have not been ordained with the spirit of uncertainty, doubt, or fear but rather with the spirit of POWER, LOVE, and SELF-CONTROL. Uncertainty of the future is a type of fear that often paralyzes my actions for Him. I am waiting to find out what it is He has for my life and yet find myself completely at His mercy once again. But then I remember His word. I shall not fear what man can do unto me and I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you, plans to guide you and not to harm you(Jordan Paraphrase Version). I have the power of the Spirit of God that enables me to love others and to maintain control over myself in circumstances out of my control. It is here that God says, before you were a dying ember but now you are a fiery furnace. Your dying embers were being put out through depression stoked by fear but now your embers are glowing hot with flames fueled by the Power of God found only through His Word which allows me to live sober-minded in this world in order to love the people of this world. God fans our dying embers into a flame so bright that its light pierces the darkness that surrounds it.
Have you ever wondered why churches meet every Sunday? Why can’t we all just sleep in and do whatever we want on a Sunday and still worship God. Well, for starters God said, “not to forsake your gathering together.” But why is it so important we get together?
This quote helped me think it through these very questions.
Why then does the church exist as a gathered community? The church is to become a mature organism through the process of edification, and this maturity is reflected, first of all by the degree of love that exists in the body of Christ, and the second, by the degree of corporate faith and hope that is manifested. – John Stott
The church is to become a mature organism through the process of edification to honor and glorify God, and in the process become a dynamic witness in the world.- John Stott
We meet together to build each other up in order so we can better proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness and into the light. (I Peter 2:9)