I had the privilege of going to Israel this year and, at one point, our tour guide was showing us an excavation of a village from Jesus’ time. As we cast our eyes over these old stony dwellings, she pointed out a cave-like hollow. “This is where they would have kept the animals, so this is the kind of thing Jesus would have been born in.”
We quickly moved on to the next thing, but I was dumb struck. All these years, I had ‘known’ it was a wooden stable. All the imagery I have ever seen was wooden stables … nativity sets, Christmas cards, nativity plays I have taken part in and watched, books I read to my children, carols sung … everything!
I had to investigate further and looked it up in the Bible. To my utter surprise, it doesn’t ever mention a stable! It only mentions a manger. I was shocked, not that this mini revelation made that much of a difference to my relationship with God, but that my beliefs can be so entrenched. I was so sure the Bible mentioned a stable.
In our verse today, we see how Mary had her beliefs deeply challenged too. To be honest, the answer the angel gave was probably not much help either, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” It isn’t an explanation that really makes sense, but it was all she needed, and she took it as truth.
It makes me wonder how we respond when our entrenched beliefs are challenged by God, or even by others. A lifetime of believing something makes it a ‘truth’ to us – even if it is not God’s truth. This applies to relatively small details of how we view the biblical stories and to more significant issues of how we view situations, ourselves, God, and others. Being open and humble enough to allow these beliefs to be challenged is such a key to opening the eyes of our hearts to the fulness of the truth that God wants to reveal to us.
So, as you cast your eyes over your Christmas decorations that portray a wooden stable rather than a cave-like hollow, allow God to challenge other thoughts, beliefs, and mindsets that are holding you back from the freedom of the life-giving truth that He wants to reveal to you.
Please feel free to use this devotional to send on to your friends or share with your church fellowship. Provided full acknowledgement is made to Seeds of the Kingdom as the source, you are also welcome to use it in a non-commercial way and reproduce it in magazines or other Christian websites. The copyright for any commercial use of the material remains with Ellel Ministries International.