Monday, December 24, 2012

The Promise of Christmas

My eyes long for your salvation
and for the fulfillment of your righteous promise. 
Psalm 119:123, ESV
On this side of eternity, Christmas is still a promise. Yes, the Savior has come, and with him peace on earth, but the story is not finished. Yes, there is peace in our hearts, but we long for peace in our world. 
Every Christmas is still a "turning of the page" until Jesus returns. Every December 25 marks another year that draws us closer to the fulfillment of the ages, that draws us closer to . . . home. 
When we realize that Jesus is the answer to our deepest longing, even Christmas longings, each Advent brings us closer to his glorious return to earth. When we see him as he is, King of kings and Lord of lords, that will be "Christmas" indeed! (Joni Eareckson Tada, "A Christmas Longing," in Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus)
 Reading through the Old Testament prophets, it has struck me how many of the prophecies of Christ's first coming rub punctuation with prophecies of His second coming. More than occasionally a comma or semicolon bears the weight of millennia of wars and rumors of wars, revivals and apostasies, megachurches and martyrs.

Here are just a few to illustrate:

  • Christ has come. "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;/And the government will rest on His shoulders;/And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).
  • Christ is coming. "There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace,/On the throne of David and over His kingdom,/To establish it and uphold it with justice and righteousness/From then on and forevermore./The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this" (Isaiah 9:7).
  • Christ has come. "But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,/Too little to be amont the clans of Judah,/From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel./His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity" (Micah 5:2).
  • Christ is with us. "And He will arise and shepherd His flock/In the strength of the LORD,/In the majesty of the name of the LORD His God" (Micah 5:4a).
  • Christ is coming. " that time He will be great to the ends of the earth./And this One will be our peace" (Micah 5:4b).
  • Christ has come. "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, you king is coming to you;/He is just and endowed with salvation,/Humble, and mounted on a donkey,/Even on a cold, the foal of a donkey" (Zechariah 9:9).
  • Christ is coming. "And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim,/And the horse from Jerusalem;/And the bow of war will be cut off./And He will speak peace to the nations./And His dominion will be from sea to sea,/And from the River to the ends of the earth" (Zechariah 9:10).
The global longing for peace, for cessation of strife in the Middle East, for a safe place to nurture our children in the admonition of the Lord, for freedom to go take part in recreation or go to the market without fear for one's life... these are not new, twenty-first century concerns. They are as old as sin.

Because Christ has come, we can taste now a great degree of personal peace: peace with God, peace with self, and peace with neighbor. That desire for universal global peace is a good, God-given desire, and it's satisfaction also ultimately will come as a gift from God. Christ is coming, and He will be and bring the peace we seek so fervently. Come soon, Lord Jesus!

Joining the chorus of gratitude to the Father simply, today, thanking Him that
~Christ has come,
~Emmanuel, "God with us," is here,
~and Christ will come again.
Thanks be to God!
(from the gratitude journal, in the #8400s)

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