How tragic it is that people often live in despair, believing what they have is all there is to being alive. And yet, what tremendous consolation to realize that there is much more to life than our present trouble.
The Israelites who paid attention to their heritage knew that there was more. Their people had hoped in a God who brought something more to life’s experience. But for many years, the people outside of Israel’s borders had no such hope. They didn’t have the prophecies, the promise of blessing.
When Simeon looked upon the baby Jesus in the temple, he said an incredible thing:
“For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.” (Luke 2:30-32)
This child was the hope not only for the Jews, but for all other people as well. And the Gentiles certainly needed some light to banish their hopeless despair. Consider what some of their philosophers were saying at the time, “Best of all for mortals is to never have been born. But for those who have been born, to die as soon as possible is best.”
Gentile sages regarded life as punishment and birth as humanity’s greatest misfortune. The world was evil. Life on earth brought sorrow. This earthly body was a prison of the spirit. Even if there was no hope of a hereafter, the grave would be a welcome place of rest.
See, some people spend their lives waiting, but they don’t know what they’re waiting for. They only know that there must be more to life. Others have had a picture of hope for centuries, and they are waiting, too. The great news is that the object of our anticipation has come to us. Christmas commemorates the end of a long, long wait: The consolation of Israel, and the light of revelation to the Gentiles.
God of perfect timing, Word of wisdom rare,
Eternal God, incredible to see you sleeping there.
How can it be, dear Lord of life, You came to tell us all,
Our only hope of Heaven lay within that cattle stall.
Many ways to Jesus, seekers take to find,
Many people looking for a Savior for mankind.
Many different wonderings, for many want to know,
Just who was born at Bethlehem a long time ago.
Was He just a good man, a teacher kind and true?
Or was it God who came to Earth to save a chosen few?
Was it all a story, improbable and wild,
Or God that day, in bed of hay, a tiny human child?
What do I know of Jesus and His changing, saving grace?
What difference is there in my life, has Christmas taken place?
How dare I live a selfish life when God gave His for me,
The choice is mine, and now’s the time to let Him set me free!
So Christmas now this season could be a different thing,
This year I could accept Him, and hear the angels sing.
So as I bow, right here, right now, and call upon His name,
My world, because of Christmas, will never be the same.
God of Perfect Timing, Jill Briscoe © 2011