The Christmas season is upon us already. For some, it feels like it could never get here, for some, it arrived like a thief in the night; you blinked and suddenly it was here. As I found myself thinking about Christmas and all that goes into the Christmas season, I found myself thinking about the hope of the restoration of the world that is imbedded in Christmas.
You feel it pulsing in the great hymns of Christmas. “No more let sin and sorrow reign, and thorns, infest the ground’, declares ‘Joy to the World’ “His law is love and his gospel peace, chains he shall break, and in his name, oppression shall cease” ‘O Holy Night’ reminds us. “Peace on earth and mercy mild God and sinners reconciled. Light and life to all he brings ris’n with healing in his wings Mild he lays his glory by, born that man no more may die, born to raise the sons of earth born to give them second birth” announces ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’.
This hope is announced in many of the great Christmas prophecies, and is seen most clearly in Isaiah 11, where we are told, “there shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him”. We’re told that He will be the perfect judge who will set everything right, and in that day “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb. I find myself longing for that day when everything is put right. But here’s a question. Why is it that we instinctively look forward to this restoration? Man has been living for millennia, and the cycle is the same, you live, you struggle, you die, you become fertilizer for the plants, the animals eat the plants, and so on; it’s the “circle of life”. But, when we look around, we know instinctively that this isn’t the way things are supposed to be. My grandfather is nearing his death, he’s in hospice now, and I’ve been going to Vermont to visit him, and as I have, I’ve been faced with this painful reminder, this is not how God designed things to be. We were not designed to live 50, 60, 70, 80 or so years, and then fade. We weren’t designed to pass away, and be lost in the sands of time. We were made to know God, and bear his image to the ends of the earth, living forever in his presence. But since we rebelled in the garden and turned to our own way, losing our true home, that place of perfect relationship with God; everything has been broken. We look around and know that something is wrong, we feel it in our bones. Something is wrong with every one of us, and the world we live in. Romans 8 tells us that all creation has been groaning, it is subject to futility and it longs for the day it is set free.
And the hope of Christmas is that all will be put right. At Christmas we celebrate the birth of the one who can and will put everything right. At Christmas, what we celebrate is the birth of the king of kings and lord of Lords. Holy God became man. The baby in the manger is not just a baby, he’s God enflseshed, "Veiled in flesh the Godhead see hail the incarnate deity". Christmas represents the beginning of this restoration. He came, to take our place before the wrath of God, breaking the chains of sin, and restoring us to relationship with God if we place our faith in Him. And he did this so that someday, he can come and destroy sin and death, without destroying us. This is the promise of Christmas for all, if we place our faith in him. As his people, we can look forward to the reality that someday, he will right the world completely. He will come again not as a baby, but as Lord before whom all creation will bow, and he will set the world right. In that day, the wolf and lamb will lie together, there will be no more sorrow, or sin, no more decay, and sickness and death, instead, what we will find is joy unimaginable as we live in the presence of king, and live and work in his restored, perfected world, knowing God, and being known by God. The creation will groan no more, the horrible broken circle will be destroyed, and we will live for all eternity in the presence of the one before whom no brokenness stands.
When you think about Christmas, think on this, remember this! At Christmas, we look back, but we look forward too, remembering what it means for our lives, and for our eternity. Christ has come, and Christ will come again, and on that day, he will restore the world, and we will find that forever, we have the true home we have always longed for. This Christmas, as you go about your business, keep this at the forefront of your mind.