The previous two posts (Part 1, Part 2) talked about what we anticipate about Christmas and what the ancient Hebrews anticipated about the First Noel. This final Anticipation post addresses how we can properly look forward to the Second Noel.
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
(Remember, these are the words of Jesus relative, Zechariah, from Luke chapter two.)
The arrival Emmanuel – God with us – was bigger than a simple baby being born. As we can read in Zechariah’s words, that baby redeemed his people (Israel), brought salvation for all mankind, saved us from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us, and is the manifestation of God’s mercy on Earth.
This is why Christmas is merry. This is why we say “Joy to the World!” Redemption. Salvation. Mercy.
Without this truth, “Merry Christmas” is powerless. It’s just an empty, meaningless phrase. Without this truth, we are still captive, lost, dying, hopeless wanderers. It’s just presents, decorations, family, and food – dressing up death, emptiness, pain, and grief.
However, with this truth, not only do we have the gift of redemption and salvation currently, we have the ANTICIPATION of rescue from this broken life we’re in now. One day suffering will cease, grief will end, and depression will be a thing of the past. No more cancer, no more dying, no more divorce. It’s a gift, and the anticipation of a greater gift at the same time! Christmas is merry because it reminds us that this life will fade, and the Christian will be with God in glory!
We won’t ever know the feeling of Zechariah about Christmas, and I don’t think we’re supposed to. Christmas, the First Noel, Emmanuel, was for the anticipating Hebrews, and to bring Jesus to pay our ransom with His blood. We can’t look forward to Christmas, but we can look forward to the Second Noel, the next Christmas, when Jesus comes again.
We all know what it is to hurt, to grieve, to be burdened. We see the injustice in the world and the wickedness displayed within mankind. We’re stressed out, overwhelmed, accused, and beaten down by the world we call home. Some people make a living at thinking positive and being optimistic, but they still know of what I speak.
When Jesus came at the First Noel, He didn’t come to end suffering and injustice. However, when He comes back, at the Second Noel, that’s exactly what He’ll bring.
Let this Christmas remind you of the glory that was Jesus’ birth, but let it also remind you of the promise of His return. Anticipation is better than hope because it’s rooted in a promise. Just as God promised Israel He would come, He’s promised all mankind He will come again. The First Noel demonstrated God’s faithfulness, and now we can most assuredly anticipate the Second Noel.
Then we will respond as the shepherd and wise men before us and the eternal celebration will begin. Joy to the World!