It is December. Almost instantly my mind equates the month with Christmas. The special holiday season seems to envelop the entire month. Parties, concerts, plays, family gatherings, and gifts fill our calendars and our thoughts. It is so encompassing that it changes the way we dress, the music that fills our ears, and the way we decorate and share our homes.
Yet a quick step back in time about 2535 years, places God’s people in very different circumstances. Having neglected, at best, and rejected, at worst, their relationship with God, He allows a period of discipline to bring His children back to a remembrance of His supremacy as Lord and Master.
During these dark days of captivity under the nation of Persia, the Israelites began to feel the weight of their disobedient choices.
Did they deserve their punishment? Clearly
Could God have just given up on them and started over? Most of us probably would have, given the situation. This, of course, was not Israel’s first time to run from God in pursuit of the lifeless wooden “gods” of the cultures around them.
Yet even in this time, when God has halted their careless lifestyles, He does not leave them without hope. Instead, He opens a small window into the future, giving them a glimpse of the glorious plans He has in mind.
As you read these words, perhaps your mind did a quick fast-forward about 550 years from these dark days of captivity to the fulfillment of this promise. Bible story images depicting Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem as told in Matthew 21:1-11 brought flesh and bones to this promise. The window forward to this significant event in the last few days of Jesus’ life on this earth depicted hope of the coming of a glorious King.
And then, stepping back to the captives’ world, another more sobering scene comes into view as another window to future events opens.
Solemnly, our thoughts go to that horrible series of events in which one of Jesus’ own twelve closest friends betrays Him for a mere 30 pieces of silver, the price of a slave (Exodus 21:32). And we see Judas, recognizing His heinous guilt, throwing the coins back at the chief priests’ feet, moments before ending his own life. The potters’ field bought with the blood money completes Zechariah’s prophesy.
The Israelites' emotions, perhaps:
Captivity – Guilt-ridden
A Coming King – Hopeful
A Betrayal – Sorrowful
This is a journey we take alongside those who have gone before. God, Lord and Master Creator, invites us to Him. Yet we selfishly chase the meaningless trinkets of our culture, disappointing Him and rejecting Him. Held captive by our own sinful choices, we feel the weight of our guilt-ridden choices.
Yet, in His love, while we were sinners, He sent His Son to die for us, giving us hope for our sinful condition. As the narrative of Jesus’ life continues, we know this donkey riding King was sold for a slave’s price and killed on the cross. We, too, feel the weight of sorrow as we read of these last few days of His life, knowing it was our sinful choices that placed Him on the cross.
But the story does not end there. Gloriously, three days later He rose from the grave to offer us redemption, a gift far beyond any we could even imagine! And certainly far above what we deserve. Yet our Loving Father reaches out in mercy to deliver His children from Satan’s captivity and places us on the path of redemption leading to a home with Him one day where all of the troubles and trials of this world will melt away leaving us free to enjoy His embrace in a heavenly realm where love and peace reign supreme.
What a magnificent celebration that will be!
May we center our lives completely and consistently on the One who loves us the most, not just in convenient seasons, but daily as we rejoice over His steadfast love and mercy.
And may His people together say, "Amen."
As always, thanks for reading.