Zechariah & Elizabeth (praying hands)
Birth of Jesus (manger)
Temple Dedication (two doves)
Day 15 - Daniel (lion) - Read Daniel 6
Sadly, the people of Israel did not listen to the prophets who told them what God was saying. They did not obey. They got worse and worse. Finally God had to take them out of the special land he had made. It was clear that they would not be able to fill it with people who honored God! So most of them, especially the smartest ones and the richest ones, were taken far away to a land called Babylon. The king of Babylon picked some of these Israelites to work for him in the palace. Daniel was one of them. Even though Daniel was far from home and far from the temple where God was worshipped, he carefully obeyed God and prayed to him every day.What did Daniel do that showed he didn’t forget about God, even though he was far from home? He prayed every day and he obeyed God’s rules.
How did God take care of Daniel? He protected him when the king put him in the lions’ pit.
Day 16 - Nehemiah (wall) - Read Nehemiah 2:11-18 and 4:6
After 70 long years away from home, God made it possible for the people of Israel to go back to their special land. Some of them went back right away and tried to start a new life. But it was not easy. Some of their enemies had moved in and made life difficult. Their houses were in ruins, and so was the temple. The walls that used to be strong around the cities to keep them safe were broken down, so their enemies could attack them any time they wanted. One of the men who returned to the land was named Nehemiah. He was a good organizer. He got the people together so they could work together to rebuild the walls around the city. With his good leadership, it didn’t take long. But still there was great sadness, because the temple was in sorry shape, and God’s glory was gone. They needed Isaiah’s promise to come true. They needed God’s special servant to come and bring them back to him! They needed Jeremiah’s promise to come true. They needed new hearts to obey!
Day 17 - Zechariah & Elizabeth (praying hands) - Read Luke 1:5-17, 57-58, 66
God’s people lived in the land of Israel for a long time after the walls were rebuilt. Some of them wondered if God would ever send his special servant to rescue them from their sin as God promised through Isaiah, if the snake’s head would ever be finally crushed as God promised Adam and Eve, if they would ever be given new hearts like God promised through Jeremiah. No doubt some of them gave up hoping. But some of them hung on to God’s promises and obeyed him even though his answers seemed to take a long, long time to come. Zechariah and Elizabeth were two of the people who never stopped hoping. Just like Abram and Sarai, they had no children and they were getting very old. But they kept obeying God and praying for a baby.
Where was Zechariah when he heard he was going to become a father? In the temple.
Why was Zechariah in the temple? He was a priest.
What did the angel tell Zechariah his son would do? He would bring Israel back to God (just like Isaiah said the servant would do!). Could this be the servant? We’ll see!
Day 18 - Birth of Jesus (manger) - Read Luke 1:26-38; 2:4-7
While Elizabeth was pregnant and waiting for her baby to be born, God sent an angel to another young woman and told her that she, too, would become a mom. Her name was Mary. The angel told Mary that her baby was going to be a KING who would rule forever! The angel reminded her that God always keeps his promises.
Both Elizabeth and Mary had their babies. Their names were John and Jesus. John was a prophet who would get people ready for the time when God himself would visit them. That visit would be like a sunrise, shining new light on the whole land (see Luke 1:76-79). But who was Jesus? The angel said he would be a king like David. Each day from now until Christmas we’ll learn a little bit more about this miracle baby, the answer to God’s great promises to Israel.
Day 19 - Shepherds (crook) - Read Luke 2:8-20
Just after Mary’s baby was born, something happened outside Bethlehem that was a big surprise! An angel came and spoke to the shepherds who were spending the night with their sheep. Were they going to have a baby, too, Just like Elizabeth and Mary? Yes, in a way. The birth of Jesus was big news for them. Jesus was not just an ordinary baby. The angel told the shepherds that Jesus was the one they had been waiting for – the Messiah! The word “Messiah” means “anointed one.” Remember how Samuel anointed the head of David when he was chosen to become king? The angel said that Jesus was anointed, too. He would be their king! The angel also said something even more shocking. He said that Jesus was the “Lord.” Could this baby somehow be God? The shepherds were so excited they went around telling everybody the news. And it was good news.
Day 20 - Temple Dedication (two doves) - Read Luke 2:22-32; 36-40
Joseph and Mary obeyed the laws that God had given to Moses. When Jesus was still a baby, they took him to the temple to present him to God. They offered two doves as a sacrifice. When they got to the temple, they met two special people – a man named Simeon and a woman named Anna. Simeon and Anna were the kind of people who obeyed God and kept on believing that he would do what he promised, even when it took a really long time. When they saw Jesus, they knew right away that God’s promises were finally coming true! Simeon knew that Jesus was the light for the whole world promised by Isaiah. Anna started telling everyone about him.Why did Mary and Joseph take Jesus to the temple? Because God’s law told parents to dedicate their children in the temple.
What was so special about Simeon and Anna? They kept on believing his promises even when it took a long time for them to come true. They recognized Jesus right away as God’s way of bringing salvation and light to everybody!
Day 21 - Magi (star) - Read Matthew 2:1-12; Isaiah 60:1-3, 6
The shepherds and Simeon and Anna weren’t the only ones who found out the big news. God put a special star in the sky, and some people noticed from far, far away. They knew the special star meant that a new king had been born and they traveled a long way to meet him. Remember Isaiah? Many years earlier God told Isaiah that people from other nations would come to the land of Israel because they saw the light dawning. They would bring gifts and worship the Lord. God’s promises to Isaiah were finally coming true!
Why did the magi come to the land of Israel? They saw a special star in the sky and knew that a king had been born.
Why do you think this news made king Herod angry? He was king over the Jews, and he didn’t want another king to take his place!