While other houses around here are sporting fall and Halloween decorations, we got a jump on them and put up Mom’s Christmas tree already! This is something I thought I could do for her during my short visit, but it does bring a sense of excitement to see it shining there in the dark of the early morning. Another part of Christmas that I look forward to is listening to Handel’s “Messiah,” even if it’s only on a CD.
Part of that musical work is based on Isaiah 9 which I read this morning. The light shining in darkness is even more poignant as the world grows dark around us and we long for the light at the end of that tunnel.
The people who walk in darkness will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine…
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us.
In my Bible I have written “Jesus!” in the margin. It’s a very familiar passage which we associate with Christ’s birth at Christmas. But the next lines have definitely not yet been fulfilled:
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His government and its peace will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice
from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity.
The passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies
will make this happen!
Oh, how I long for this part of the prophecy to be fulfilled! Jesus Himself will rule singlehandedly with true peace, justice and righteousness. No more scam, scandal, selfishness, secrecy, oppression, violence, deception and all the other things that characterize government and society today. I am committed, by God’s grace, to stay the course. Not to give up in despair or to give in to the forces of evil (even those in sheep’s clothing). It will be worth it all when that glorious kingdom arrives!
Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!
So the world didn’t end on December 21. Does that mean it never will? What has anyone learned from this false alarm?
I remember when when my little sister and I were kids, excited about the arrival of our cousins from several states away. In the morning we took up our vigil, sitting beside the road on a piece of an old tire. But it was midnight before they arrived, and of course we’d given up our post long before that. The visit that followed was great fun, and soon we forgot about the frustration of waiting.
We watch for our Lord’s return. He told us to! We can be sure He will come, though it might not be as soon as we wish.
In the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.”
But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.
But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment.* But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.
And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight. (excerpted from 1 Peter 3:3-14 NLT)
How do people respond to a prophet’s message? In quick succession I see widely varying responses to Jeremiah’s warnings:
Fear. People who heard the warnings realized this was serious and needed to be heard by the king. (36:16)
Deny. After King Jehoiakim heard each section read to him, he cut it off and burned it, showing no sign of repentance (nor his officials). (36:23-25)
Ignore. King Zedekiah would not listen to Jeremiah. (37:2)
Shoot the messenger. Jeremiah was flogged and imprisoned in a dungeon (37:15) and later thrown into a muddy cistern to die. (38:4-5)
Repent and obey. Sadly, I don’t see an example of this one in the book of Jeremiah. But how about the Ninevites to whom Jonah preached? Do the pagans put “God’s people” to shame?
When God’s word doesn’t agree with my plans or priorities, what do I do? Bend the rules? Make excuses? Ignore it? God, help us to humbly accept Your rebuke, repent, and experience the joy of seeing You work in our world!