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A REAL CHRISTMAS STORY.
WRITTEN MORE THAN 1800 YEARS AGO.
While Ilerod was king in Judea there
was a priest named Zacharias. His wife's
name was Elizabeth. Both 6f them were
old, and righteous, and careful to obey
God's commandments ; but God had nev
er given them a child.
There were many priests among the
Jews, who served in the temple by cours
es. There were twenty-four courses;
each one had its name, and that which
Zacharias belonged to was callad the
course of Abia.
Very early every morning, before it was
light, the priests at the temple began the
work of the day. Some of them went to
the altar of burnt-offering and cleaned it,
taking away the ashes that had been left
there from the day before, and putting
fresh wood on the tire which was never
allowed to go out. Other priests went
into the temple and trimmed the lamps
on the golden candlestick, and cleaned
the golden altar of incense. Afterward
one of the priests offered up a lamb, and
another burned incense. Everyday be
fore the priests began their work lots
were cast to determine what part of the
service each one was to take. On a cer
tain day it fell to the lot of Zacharias to
burn incense on the golden altar; and
while he was in the temple he saw an
angel standing beside the golden altar.
When he saw him he was afraid, but the
Angel said, Fear not, Zacharias, for God
will give to thee and to thy wife a son
and thou shalt call his name John. He
shall not drink wine nor any strong
drink, and shall be lilled with God's Holy
Spirit from the time he is born. Zacha
rias said to the angel, How shall I know
that these things will be? The angel an
swered him. I am the angel Gabriel who
live in heaven, and stand before God to
do whatever he commands me, ami he
has sent me to tell this good news. And
now, because thou hast not believed it,
thou shalt be punished by being dumb
and unable to speak, until the words I
have spoken come true.
And the people who were waiting in
(he courts of the temple for Zacharias to
come out, wondered what kept him so
long. When he came they saw he could
not speak, but he made them understand
by signs that he had seen a vision.
* * * * *
And God gave to Zacharias and Eliza
beth the son he had promised. When
the child was eight days old their neigh
bors and relatives came together to dedi
cate or give him to the Lord, and to de
cide what name should be given him; and
they called him Zacharias after the name
of his father. But his mother said he
must be called John. They suid thcTe be
none of your relations of this name; and
they made signs to his father, asking
what he would have him called; and he
asked for a writing table (for he was still
speechless), and wrote saying, his name
is John. As soon as he had written these ,
words God gave him power to speak
again. And all the people in those parts j
heard of those things and they said
What manner of child shall this be ? And '
the boy grew, and the Lord blessed him, i
and he went and lived in the wilderness j
and became a great preacher.
At this time the Jews were servants to '
the Romans, and had to obey the Emper-1
or; and he made a dei ree that all the
Jews should be taxed and commanded
each one of them to go to the city where
his ancestors had lived so that his name
might be taken down. Among the num
ber who went up to the city of David to
be taxed, was a poor carpenter named Jo
seph, and his wife who was a cousin of
Elizabeth. They journey od from Naza
reth, and on reaching Bethlehem found
the inn tilled so that they were compelled
to seek lodging in the stable; while there
God fulfilled a promise made to Mar}'
about the time of Zacharias' wonderful
vision, and gave her a son.
Lowly as was his birth, it was hera 1
i by angels who appeared to shepherds as
! they watched their flocks in the adjoining
The Babe of Bethlehem was visited by
the wise and great of the nation, and
! through jealousy the wickod emperor en
i deavored to slay him, but his life was
I preserved and he grew to manhood, and
his life has furnished a model for all ages*
In the lives and career of these two
boys was fulfilled the prophecies of ages,
and in the death upon the Cross ofMrry's
' son, redemption was made for all man
We have given this brief and imperfect
sketch of the first Christmas, in the hope
that a perusal of it may aid our young
i readers to a better understanding of the
subject, and awaken an interest in the
1 study of the only perfect guide for young
and old—the Bible.
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