ANTICIPATION - Week of December 18th

By Judy Nichols

December 18, 2016


 Christmas is just a few days away. Anticipation is building. Preparations are ongoing. But what would happen if Christmas didn’t come for four hundred years? What if it were like Narnia where it was "always winter but never Christmas?" What would happen to our sense of anticipation?

    This is precisely what happened. God promised a Redeemer, a Messiah, from the very beginning (see Gen. 3:15). And He kept reminding His people of it throughout the centuries, from Abraham who acted out substitutionary death in the almost-sacrifice of Isaac (Gen. 22:1-14), to Moses who demonstrated release from bondage in the exodus from Egypt (Ex.5-12) and verbally promised another Redeemer would come (Deut. 18:15, Acts 3:22), to Isaiah who foretold the suffering of the Messiah (Isa. 53) and the rest of the prophets, ending with Malachi whose final words predicted the prophet who would prepare the way for His imminent arrival (Mal. 4:5-6).

    But then there were four hundred years of silence. No prophets reminding the people of God’s promise, no kings demonstrating the continuance of the Davidic line through which the Messiah would come, no angelic appearances, no miracles. Amos prophesied of this time when he said, "Behold, days are coming," declares the Lord, "When I will send a famine on the land, not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of the Lord." (Amos 8:11.)

    It’s a wonder anyone listened when the shepherds spread the word about their angelic visit and the Child they had seen (Luke 2:17). But God always has His remnant, those faithful people who remember and keep their hope alive. Mary and Joseph met two of them when they presented Jesus at the temple. Simeon and Anna both recognized and thanked God for the Redeemer. And there evidently were others because Anna spoke of Him to "all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem" (see Luke 2:25-38).

    It strikes me that we are in a similar situation now. When Jesus ascended into heaven, angels appeared to the disciples and said that Jesus would return (Acts 1:11). Most of them thought that would happen in their lifetime, but it didn’t. Indeed, it’s been over two millennia now, and He still hasn’t returned.

    But God is faithful. There are still many, many unfulfilled promises that we believe are true and will come to pass. There are many signs of His return that have happened and conditions are ripe for the fulfillment of many others. Are we still filled with anticipation for the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Or are we distracted with our mundane lives and deceived into thinking things will always be the same? Jesus warned that the time of His return would be like the days of Noah, when they were "eating and drinking and marrying and giving in marriage" (Matt. 24:38).

    Jesus said He was going to prepare a place for us and would return to take us there to be with Him (John 14:1-3). Keith Green once quipped that if God created the heavens and the earth in six days, and it’s taking Jesus two thousand years to prepare our place in heaven, then we must be living in a garbage can compared to what’s going on up there. We can’t even imagine what that place will be like. Indeed, Paul affirmed that thought in 1 Corinthians 2:9. "Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him."

    Will the return of Christ be awesome and glorious? Absolutely! It will be far beyond anything we can imagine. Even knowing that God’s trumpet will sound and Jesus will descend with a shout to raise the dead and catch us up to be with Him in the clouds (1 Thess. 4:16-17), I still can’t fathom what it will be like or how it will feel. To see Jesus face to face, to be totally free from my sin, to walk on the streets of gold and know that the light there is directly from God – these things blow my mind.

    Christmas is just a few days away. Anticipation is building. Jesus is coming soon. We dare not let our anticipation for that day wane. "Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; so, you, too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door" (Matt. 24: 32-33). Amen. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

© J.H.Nichols 2010

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