The Christmas season is upon us. I love everything about this season. The garland, the lights, the music, the anticipation, the excitement. But, I know the excitement and anticipation is only a fraction of what those felt that were waiting on the birth of Jesus. I have been reflecting on how this may have been for the Israelites. There was no hope quite like the awaited Messiah promised. For years they had heard prophecies about the coming Savior. No one knew how He would come, but what they did know is that He was coming to end sin, he would come from the line of David, he would rule over all kings, and when He was here God would be with us. Can you imagine?! What amazing promises to anticipate, to wait for. So much better than the latest Xbox game or AirPods. In the times before Jesus arrived, the Jews faced slavery, imprisonment, and many hardships. Day to day life was extremely hard and discouraging. I’m sure they often questioned the promises from God. It would be hard not to. Yet, they remained faithful, hopeful, and still believed every single word of scripture. Do we?
I recently discovered that a well known Christmas song, O Come Emmanuel, was first written in the perspective of those waiting on Jesus. Verses like,
‘O come, O come, Immanuel, and ransom captive Israel that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear’, ‘O come, O Branch of Jesse's stem, unto your own and rescue them! From depths of hell your people save, and give them victory o'er the grave.’, ‘O come, O Key of David, come and open wide our heavenly home. Make safe for us the heavenward road and bar the way to death's abode’
speak to the hope they may have felt and what it would mean for their eternal future. Israelites were in captivity, in exile, they needed rescued. God was going to be with them instead of at a distance. The Emmanuel was their hope for freedom, for peace, for conquering death and ending all pain that sin brought to this earth. While Jesus did all these things and more, it looked much different than what they expected. But isn't that often how it is? Expectations rarely end up being reality. But thank goodness God's reality is better than ours.
Many things have changed since biblical times. I’m sure if someone from Jesus’ time could see things now, they would be amazed and maybe a little saddened. We are much more blessed with the things around us, especially here in the United States. But, we also have so much now that many feel as if they don’t need a Savior, which in my opinion makes the Israelites much more blessed than us. They were well aware of their need for Jesus. In your face aware. We often aren’t. We don’t face slavery or imprisonment in the way Israelites knew to be theIr “norm”. Most of us know where our next meal is coming from, we live in a home often bigger than we need, have clean running water, and have access to education and health care. Things we often take for granted are the very thing many struggle to have. Yet hardships like slavery, abuse, and sickness still exist because sin still exists. We try to figure how to prevent these from happening often forgetting the reason all these are here and the answer to it all, even during Christmas time. We forget the manual we have at our fingertips and we forget that peace was not promised until Jesus’ return. That is when all pain will end, every tear God has been counting since sin entered in will be erased. We still need to sing O Come, O Come Emmanuel because we still need Jesus. Don't let the world fool you. Let us wait as the Israelites did. With hope, with faithfulness to His word. With anticipation towards Him not things. Let’s run to Him. He is the answer and the reason for it all.