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                                       No Vacancy


New Jersey, 21st Century

          Several years ago we experienced one of the so-called “Noreaster” storms that frequent the East coast of the United States. Usually, these storms come up the coast, dumping snow or rain on the coastal communities and then drift to the right and blow themselves out in the North Atlantic.  This one, however, decided to move across the Delaware Bay and into South Jersey.  The storm brought down trees, which pulled down power lines and blocked the roads.  Then, the next day, the July sun came out, and the temperature rose into the upper 90’s.  With no power for AC, cooking or lighting and help 4 to 5 days away we were advised to lock up the property and head west for shelter.  So we filled the coolers with things that needed refrigeration and headed across Pennsylvania toward my 90-year-old mother’s retirement home.

          The plan was to drive a couple of hours, then stop in a motel for the night.  The first motel and the ones around it all showed “No Vacancy” signs.  So we went another hour west to an exit with several major hotel chains.  They all had No Vacancy.  I tried the rest area where all the motels had their phone numbers listed.  No Vacancy’s for hundreds of miles.

          Around 1:30 AM we arrived at Mother’s and were welcomed with a cool apartment, soft bed and great fellowship.  Five days later we were able to return home and start the clean-up process.

Bethlehem, 1st Century

          “Father, may I hang the ‘no vacancy’ sign now?   You rented the last room an hour ago, and now you have just rented my room.  There is no place left for anyone else to stay.”

          “I’m sorry my son, but you and your brother can sleep in the hay wagon tonight or for the next several nights.  We need to make as many Denarii as we can during this time of the census.  Caesar may never call again for such a tax registration, so we must make as much money as we can now.”

          “I am sorry sir, but we are filled up.  There is no more room in the inn, and my son was about to hang the no vacancy sign. “

          “But sir, I implore you to find a place for my bride and me to rest and wash off the dust.  We have been traveling from Nazareth to get here in time for the registration, and she is great with child. The baby could come anytime now.  Mary is very weary, so perhaps we could rest in your lobby for a just bit.”

          “Jacob, can’t you see this woman is pregnant.  We have to find a place for her to stay.”

          “Yes Mama, but the Inn is full, all the rooms are taken, all the beds are crowded, there’s no more space for anyone, anywhere.”

          “Then find someplace.  Someplace private where this young lady may give birth to her baby.”

          “OK Mama, I will speak to the rabbis at Migdal Eder where they care for the sacrificial lambs. Perhaps they will have a clean and private place for Mary to give birth. They are both descendants of King David, from whom the Messiah is to come. So this child could be the Promised One be born here in Bethlehem this very night.”

“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.   3Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel.”         Micah 5:2-3

“And thou, O tower of the flock, the stronghold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.” Micah 4:8

This tower was for watching over the pasture of the sheep that were to be used in the sacrifices in the Temple at Jerusalem. According to the Mishnah, each birth of a lamb was examined by the Rabbinic Sheppard and certified “without spot or blemish” and acceptable for sacrifice.

          Giving birth in the Migdal Eder would be the perfect place for Jesus to be born since He was as John declared “the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world.” It also explains how the Shepherds knew where to look for the “Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes” as newborn lambs were wrapped in swaddling clothes at Migdal Eder.

“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem;(because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:1-7

          He was born at Migdal Eder. The son of David that was the glory of his father’s house had no inheritance that he could command, no, not even in the city of David. He had no friend that would accommodate his mother in her distress with lodging. Christ was born in an inn, to intimate that he came into the world to sojourn here for a while.

          An inn receives all comers, and so does Christ. He hangs out the banner of love for his sign, and whoever comes to him, he will, in no wise cast out.  But, unlike inns, he welcomes those that come without money and price.

          He was born in a stall where animals stayed; as is implied by the word translated as a manger, a place for lambs to stand to be feed.  Because there was no room in the inn, and no conveniences, he was laid in a manger, instead of a cradle.

          The word which we render swaddling clothes derives from a word that signifies to rend or tear, and these infer that he was so far from having good child-bed linen, that his very swaddles were ragged and torn. His being born in a stable and laid in a manger was an evidence of the poverty of his parents

          So it was there in the lowly stable, behind a small town Inn, that the creator of the world chose to enter the human race as a helpless baby.  God, the Son, clothed his heavenly glory in the rags of human flesh so as to become the:

“Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”   John 1:29

Heaven, Eternity Past

          In the foreknowledge of God, He knew before He created the world and all that is in it that His prized creation, “man,” would rebel against Him.  He also knew that the only way He could redeem fallen man would cost the life of His sinless only begotten Son.  But, God still created man in His image.

          “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”             John 3:16-8

          Why would God allow His Son to die on a cruel cross for you and me?  Because He loved us with the kind of love that sacrifices oneself for another. Husbands are commanded to love their wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it.

          “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,” Ephesians 2:4

“We love him because he first loved us”  1 John 4:19

          Because God loved us and “the wages of sin is death,” and only a sinless man could die for another, Jesus was born into our humanity.  Being born as a helpless baby, growing as a child, developing as a teen and ministering as an adult He “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”

          It is only through the shed blood of Jesus Christ that we are reconciled with God and have guaranteed entrance into Heaven.  But that is a personal matter.  You must believe that Jesus died for you, to pay the wages of your sins.

          “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” John 4:10 


Vacancy or No Vacancy

          Much has been written and preached about the innkeeper who had “No Room” for Jesus.  Over the years he has been demonized and maligned by many preachers and teachers.  However, the Bible does not tell us who he was, the name of his establishment, how big it was or anything about him or his family.  We do not know if he was kind or greedy, godly or secular. 

          We only know that he helped provide a manger.  A place where the shepherds could “find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

The question to you today is, do you have any room in your heart for Jesus?  Or does your heart say,  “NO VACANCY.”

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