This week’s additions to our Jesse Tree at church continued to tell the Christmas story which stretches way back in time, long before the New Testament was written.

Jacob’s ladder reminds us of God’s covenant with Jacob (grandson of Abraham), who dreamed of a ladder reaching from earth to heaven, with angels ascending and descending. (Genesis 28:10-22) Jacob’s later encounter with God earned him the name Israel, the name by which the whole nation came to be known.

The sheaves of wheat remind us of the story of Joseph (Gen 37-50). This important Old Testament story shows how God can use every situation for good, for Joseph was sold into slavery and later thrown into prison, even though he was innocent, yet God used him to protect Israel from famine. The story of Joseph reminds us that God is always working for our good, even when bad things happen to us. Bad things happened to Jesus too (King Herod wanted to kill him because of jealousy and Jesus was later crucified by the Romans), but God was able to work out His plan of salvation even through these terrible events.

Moses’s staff reminds us of this great Old Testament leader who rescued Israel from slavery in Egypt. The parting of the Red Sea was one of the greatest miracles recorded and this great rescue looks ahead to the rescue from our sins which Jesus’s death and resurrection bring.

The stone tablet reminds us of God’s Ten Commandments, given to Moses. These were God’s rules for how to live at peace with God and with each other. God spoke to Moses face-to-face and made a covenant or promise with him to be with His people always. (Exodus 24:4-8). These are the Ten Commandments:

  1. I am the Lord your God, and you shall have no other god before me.

  2. You shall not worship any statues or other images.

  3. You shall not use the Lord’s name without reverence and respect.

  4. You shall keep the Sabbath day holy.

  5. You shall respect your father and mother.

  6. You shall not kill other people.

  7. You shall not be unfaithful to your husband or wife.

  8. You shall not steal.

  9. You shall not speak falsely about other people.

  10. You shall not envy or want what someone else has.

These are good rules to live by (Exodus 20:1-17). Ultimately, though, none of us can keep these rules perfectly, which is why we need Jesus. He is both fully God and fully human, and therefore He can live a perfect life and give Himself as a sin-offering for us.