Preparing for Christmas 2023

Although the story of Jacob in Genesis does not seem like an Advent story the Lord turned it into one for me.

The story of Jacob’s ladder is a familiar one. Jacob, after stealing the first-born’s blessing away from his brother Essau, runs away. (Gen 28: 11-22) On his journey he lays down to sleep and has a dream of a ladder reaching to Heaven where the Lord appeared to Him and blessed him. In Chapter 35 of Genesis God speaks to him again and directs him to go to Bethel with his family and to dwell there.

Jacob’s Return to Bethel:

Genesis: 35 Then God said to Jacob, “Get ready and move to Bethel and settle there. Build an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother, Esau.”

So Jacob told everyone in his household, “Get rid of all your pagan idols, purify yourselves, and put on clean clothing. We are now going to Bethel, where I will build an altar to the God who answered my prayers when I was in distress. He has been with me wherever I have gone.”

Bethel means “God is in this place” and to dwell means to reside, to live, to be settled, to be housed, to stay, to abide.

So God was directing Jacob to settle down and make his home with Him. Now notice the first thing that Jacob does, he tells his family and household to put away all their idols, to purify themselves and to change into fresh garments. Then Jacob buries the idols and charms etc. before he goes. So in preparation to enter into the presence of God, to settle down with Him, Jacob identifies all those things they are putting their trust in that is not the Lord. He calls them out. All those areas where the enemy has come in and been given power, all those places of deception. The house gets cleaned. The idols are buried, there is no longer access to them! The body gets cleansed. New clothes are put on.

When I finished meditating on this passage the Lord reminded me of Advent! The time of preparation leading up to Christmas.

I believe the Lord was showing me that Advent could be quite similar to Jacob’s preparation before for taking his family to Bethel. It is a time to prepare to come fully into the presence of God, to welcome in the King. It is an exciting month of opportunities to take inventory. Where are the idols? Is my heart still locked into materialism and “stuff”? Is my heart free from the desire to have more and better or what someone else has, their car, house or vacation? Modern day idolatry can be subtle and deceptive. It is a heart condition where we want something more than we want God. It is where we rely on something other than God, anything we look to for greater fulfillment than God. Where is my value and confidence? Is it in my husband, children, job, money, job or even my athletic ability? The list goes on. I think the important thing is to spend time and just ask the Lord if there is anything that needs to be identified and then buried.

I recognized that this is a month to focus on knowing Him, seeking Him and glorifying Him. It is a time to listen and be obedient. How I could best serve Him and others? Who did He want me to spend time with? The answer could be so many things. Someone to call, write, help. A special gift to buy or make, someone to invite in.  The important thing is to ask, listen and then obey.

This is an amazing opportunity  to identify those things that may have taken the place of Christ as Lord, master, director and King over my heart. Taking time to identify those areas where the enemy has come in and deceived me. Identifying those things I have put my trust in besides Jesus. I had to ask myself what do I need to purify myself from. What influences have I allowed in that shouldn’t be there, what voices am I listening to?

I also love the idea of putting new clothes on to welcome Jesus.

Job 29:14
“I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; My justice was like a robe and a turban.

Galatians 3:27
For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

Romans 13:14
Instead, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.

Colossians 3:10
and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
Colossians 3:12
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

Putting on fresh garments represents recognizing that the old filthy garments are gone. Shame and guilt are gone. God sees us clothed in Christ. It also represents being hidden in Him. It represents putting on our armor, recognizing that we have His righteousness protecting us from the accusations and lies the enemy throws at us. This is a reminder that day by day we are being renewed, a recognition that we are clothed in robes of royalty. We are a royal priesthood, chosen to walk as Christ walked, to represent Him.

This month is a time to clothe ourselves with compassion, to look for ways to serve, ways to be kind and gentle. Ways to be Jesus with skin on to those that need His touch.

So as we enter into this last week of Advent and prepare our hearts to greet Him remember to do a bit of introspection, perhaps a bit of housecleaning and put on those fresh new clothes!


Blessings! Irene