That We Might Have Hope
“For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”
Romans 15:4 NKJV
As we start the month of December, our hearts and minds begin to focus on the Christmas season. During our tough year, it is understandable that a lot of people may have a hard time celebrating. In fact, for most of our nation, it will be almost impossible to spend time with loved ones due to Covid-19 restrictions. Like the Elvis song goes, it will be a “blue Christmas” for many.
Amid such a bleak year, there is still hope. The good news that potential vaccines will soon be available has lifted our spirits. We cannot wait to hear from our doctors or pharmacies that we can come get our shot. Until then, we must wait patiently and expectantly.
As we continue our sermon series “Echoes form Exile: Prophetic Words for Troubled Times”, we begin to move toward the latter part of our memory verse. Even though these Minor Prophets have had message of doom and gloom, they also have given us a message of hope.
For example, one of those verses is Zephaniah 3:17. The prophet is giving a message for the remnant that is returning from exile to Jerusalem. He says: “The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” NKJV
This verse gives them a future hope that God will be in their midst, that He will save them, and that He will quiet them. The picture is of a mother singing over her infant child. That promise is also for us as well. This verse echoes a contemporary of Zephaniah, the prophet Isaiah, who tells of a One called Emmanuel, which means “God with us.” According to Zephaniah, not only is He with us, but he is also singing over us.
My favorite Christmas Carol is “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”. Here is how the song begins:
O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel
For seventy years, the people of Judah were in exile, awaiting this Mighty One to save them. Once the remnant returned to the land, for 400 years they waited, and waited in silence. Finally, a new world power took the place of Babylon. It was the Roman Empire, which occupied Israel and made Herod a vassal king. Times were just as bleak. People wondered if the Messiah would ever come.
In this time of oppression and chaos, the silence is broken, and a babe is born. Even though it was a dark and desperate time in history, everything changed. The Lord our God was in our midst. That caused the angels to break out in song. Today, we too can celebrate in the midst of chaos. It is our prayer that you will experience God in your midst.
I love you and it is a privilege to be your pastor.