My dad answered the phone and asked, “so how is the beginning of the Christmas season treating you?” Inwardly, I moaned. Tomorrow the choir will expect a solid outline of the Christmas music program, a week and a half away, and I haven’t even written the narration yet, much less made copies of their practice CD’s! The kids’ Christmas violin recital is one day before our church event, so keeping the urgency out of my voice during morning practice with the kids is becoming more challenging, though necessary for their sanity. Top that with the necessary baking obligations, the co-op Christmas party and caroling, travel plans, homeschooling and attempting to keep up with everyday chores . . . well, let’s just say the Christmas cards have passed the proverbial back burner and are in the sink.
Sound familiar? Your holiday obligations may be different than mine, but they’re no less burdensome, I’m sure.
The Lord answered my troubled mind through his prophets as I studied to write our Christmas program’s narration, and I’d like to share His comfort with you.
The Lord answers the Death of/within this world by providing the Salvation for our world. The first Advent, widely celebrated by Christians, gives rise to hope and peace. With joy we sing: “For unto us a child is born, a son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6) We marvel at Mary’s Song: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior . . . From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me–holy is his name.” (Luke 1:46-49) And we wonder at the wisdom of the Magi who asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” (Matthew 1:2)
The wise men from Persia were watching for Christ’s first advent. They anticipated the coming of a baby who would redeem this world. Now, from 20 centuries beyond Christ’s earthly ministry, we seek comfort in the baby of Bethlehem.
Galatians 4:4 says, “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” The fullness of time? Yes, as Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17). As good Adventists, we think of this text as affirming the continuity of the Law, which it does. But the prophecies led our Seventh-day Adventist founders together in doctrinal unity with a vision of the second advent of Christ. Are we still looking? Searching?
Are we teaching our children, not only to look back and appreciate the great gift of salvation through the Lamb, but also to anticipate His coming? (*see note at end of post) Are we acting as the Wise Men were and studying the prophets intently?
Daniel’s prophecies of the Anointed One (70 week prophecy; Daniel 9) are connected to the decree to rebuild the temple; the 1844 prophecy of Daniel is also connected to this decree. Thus, Christ’s earthly ministry is inextricably linked with Christ’s heavenly ministry in a prophetic sense. The prophets all looked forward to the absolute fulfillment of the Salvation Plan set in place before Creation.
The first advent was symbolized by the Sacrifice. The second advent is symbolized with the Marriage of the Lamb to His church, His Remnant. And the marriage ceremony is joyful!! Are we looking at prophecy through “time of trouble” eyes, or are we looking beyond perilous times to our deliverance and the promises of Christ’s full reign as King?
I’ll leave you with a few verses to mull over this busy Christmas season. As you celebrate the joyful entrance of Christ to earth, contemplate how much more wonderful His return will be! Many of the verses associated with Christ’s first advent are actually fully applied at His second advent. Because Christ returns victorious, we are also victorious. There is no more pure joy than this! Just as Daniel, when he was depressed for weeks regarding his visions, was given another vision, this time of the Anointed One who would provide the blood of Salvation, we have this future vision to look forward to: Christ’s second advent and our symbolic marriage to Him for eternity.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.” Isaiah 9:6-9
“A voice of one calling: ‘In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. . . . See the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and his arm rules for him. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.” (Isaiah 40:3-5, 10)
“Sing for joy, O heavens, for the LORD has done this; shout aloud, O earth beneath. Burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all your trees, for the LORD has redeemed Jacob, he displays his glory in Israel.” (Isaiah 44:23)
“I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:9, 10)
“‘The days are coming’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness.” (Jeremiah 23: 5,6)
“I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.” (Jeremiah 24:7)
“‘In those days, at that time,’ declares the LORD, ‘search will be made for Israel’s guilt, but there will be none, and for the sins of Judah, but none will be found, for I will forgive the remnant I spare’.” (Jeremiah 50:20)
“Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding a donkey.” (Zechariah 9:9)
“‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the LORD Almighty. ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the LORD Almighty. ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the LORD Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the LORD Almighty.” (Haggai 2:6-9)
“Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem! The LORD has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The LORD, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm. . . . The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:14, 15, 17)
*In a future post, I will discuss ways and resources to enrich your homeschool Bible & history study through prophecy–with JOY!