“O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.”
My favorite Christmas song by far is “O come, O come, Emmanuel.” It captures so beautifully the sense of longing and expectancy that God’s people, the Israelites, must have felt waiting for the long-promised Messiah. I think of Simeon, who had been promised that he would see the birth of the Christ before death, and Anna, who had lived almost her entire life of eighty-four years in the temple, “worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day” (Luke 2:37) waiting for this promised Savior. I can’t even imagine what sort of longing and anxiousness they must have felt, waiting with such great anticipation for the Messiah. I think that same sense of expectancy is captured in Romans 8:
“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”
I’m reminded that just as Israel looked forward to the coming of Jesus, we too look forward to Christ’s coming, when he will take us to be with himself. We should look forward to that day with the same expectancy and eager longing with which Israel looked forward to the coming of the Savior. I so easily get caught up in the details and worries of life that I forget that this life is not the end or the ultimate thing. As believers in Jesus we look forward to something far greater, and the broken world that we live in will be restored. We will be delivered from death, pain, sickness, and suffering, and we will finally be perfected and made whole and new. Sometimes the longing for that day is exhausting and painful, as we experience the brokenness and hurt of this world. But even though the waiting is difficult, we can look forward to that day with hope and joy, trusting firmly that God will do what he has promised.
“O come, Thou rod of Jesse, free,
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny,
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.
“O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer,
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.”
So this Christmas as we remember Jesus’ birth and his coming to bring Salvation to his people, let’s also remember his promise to return. Let’s press on and look expectantly toward that day, when Christ will return in glory. Even in times of difficulty and pain, we can trust firmly in Christ, knowing that he is able and will do what he has promised.
“Amen. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!”