Monday, January 02, 2012

Anticipating the Promise!

In the last half of Luke 2, which gives us "the rest of the Christmas story," we are introduced to a forgotten character of the Christmas story...a man named Simeon. We learn that he lived in Jerusalem at the time of the birth of Jesus and that he was righteous and devout. In other words, he believed in the promises of God and took obeying God very seriously.

He was also a person who longed for the coming of the Messiah that had been promised through the many Old Testament Prophets. Most every Jew living in Jerusalem was very familiar with that promise of a coming Messiah, but for most, it seemed like mere words. After all, from the closing of the Old Testament 400 years had passed of Divine silence. Not even a peep from God took place during these 400 years until the angel appeared to Zechariah to announce that his aged wife, Elizabeth, would give birth to John the Baptist.

But unlike most, Simeon didn't just believe this promise intellectually, he daily anticipated it - even expected it. The possibility of His coming was the first thought that would cross his mind in the morning and be the last prayer that rolled off his lips at night.

My fear is that many, if not, most believers in Jesus have developed a similar mindset that most in Israel would have had at the time of Simeon. Hundreds of years ago Jesus made the promise (read about in John 14:1-2) that He would one day return. Hundreds of years have come and gone since then. Hundreds of predictions as to the date of His return have come and gone - but not a peep of reality. Jesus still hasn't come back. And, unfortunately, for many believers it has resulted in merely an intellectual knowledge of the promise of Christ's return. I fear that most Christ-followers, though they believe the promise in their mind, don't long for it in their heart as Simeon did His first coming.

As you keep reading in Luke 2, you discover that God, through the Holy Spirit, made an amazing promise to Simeon. He promised Simeon that he would not see death until He had seen the Messiah - until the promise became reality. How cool would it be to be the recipient of that promise? Well, we have not received that promise today (and beware anyone who tells you they know when Christ is going to return. Frankly, the date-setters are simply "shooting in the dark!"). But God did make a promise to us concerning His return.

In 2 Timothy 4:8, Paul spoke of the crown of righteousness that in the future God would give to him, and not to him only, but also to all those who love His appearing! God has promised a future reward for those of us today who live in anticipation and expectation of His return.

Now don't get me wrong - I love life and there is still much I want to experience. I want to see my son graduate from college (please, God, let my son graduate from college)! I want to walk my daughter down the aisle and give her away to the little pervert that will be standing down front! I want to ensure that my grandchildren become Ohio State Buckeye fans! I want to retire (at about the age of 48)! I want to grow old with my wife (who will get there a couple years ahead of me)! But I would trade all of that in today for Jesus to come back! I really would!

Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

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