by Kelsey Knobloch
“The one who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” – Revelation 22:20
“I can’t wait for Christmas either, but we have to. You’ve got to give everything its chance.”
“Exactly! ‘For everything there is a season…'”
“Right? Sometimes I feel just like the Jews from the Old Testament, waiting for Jesus.”
That’s (roughly) the conversation my wife and I had in the car the other day, driving past yet another group of businesses advertising and decorating for Christmas. I begin to feel like I’m having the same conversation, year after year, with person after person. Maybe it makes me old fashioned. Maybe I’m turning into a grumpy old man a few years too early. Maybe I’m trying too hard to force everyone else into it. But for me, nothing Christmas happens before Thanksgiving.
No decorations around the house. No shopping for gifts. No Christmas music. Certainly no Christmas lights or trees. They can all wait just a bit longer, just until after Thanksgiving. “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) Like I wrote about in September, Halloween has its time. Thanksgiving can have its time. And Christmas will have its time. Everyone gets a turn.
Now before I seem like too much of a Grinch, there are some who are in desperate need for the hope and peace that the season brings. The season, the feeling of Christmas is literally a lifeline for many, the only thing helping them make it through another year, another month, day, hour. Christmas is incredibly important to so many people because of what it does, the power it has. And it should be! As my wife and I spoke about, there were hundreds of thousands of people who were waiting for Christmas thousands of years before we were even thought of.
The oppression, exile, and trials of the Jewish people are well documented throughout the entirety of the Old Testament. From the book of 2 Kings onwards, the people of Israel are in captivity, longing for a land to call their own, longing for a savior. The books of Kings (what we know of as 1 & 2 Kings) describe events that include the capture of Judah in 587-586 BC. Now, I’m not great at math, but that’s almost 600 years of captivity, off-and-on, for the people of Israel. From 2 Kings through to the New Testament, roughly 28 books, over a third of our modern Bible, is dedicated to a period when the Jews were waiting. Even those far off, “wise men from the East” knew about this waiting, knew when it was reaching its conclusion, and came to see it. They were so ready for Jesus, and then He arrived! But it didn’t stop there.
For many of the people of Israel, Jesus wasn’t all He was cracked up to be. They wanted a King, someone to come back in with a sword and fist. They wanted Him to cut down their oppressors, bring them back to the land that was promised to them, and re-establish a kingdom on Earth. He was welcomed into Jerusalem not as a Savior for their souls, but as a King in triumph. They missed the point. 600 years of waiting, and they didn’t get what they wanted. Talk about a depressing present. Up until the day of His ascension, people were still asking Jesus when He was going to bring back the kingdom of Israel (Acts 1:6). Some of them are still waiting today.
We’re much in the same boat. Not that we’re waiting for the return of an earthly kingdom, but that we’re waiting for our Savior. I found myself singing along with a song by Andrew Peterson the other day so loudly that I was hoarse, feeling very much the emotions he captured in his song ‘The Reckoning (How Long).’
“And I know you hear the cries of every soul tonight
You see the teardrops as they roll tonight
Down the faces of saints
Who grow weary and faint in your fields
I believe You will come
Your justice be done, but how long?
How long until the burden is lifted?
How long is this the song that we sing?
How long until the reckoning?”
Our waiting for our Savior is just as powerful, just as strong as that of the Jewish people longing for a home. All who know the pain and suffering of this sinful world wish for an end to it. There’s a lot of waiting. The Jews who have not yet seen the gift of Jesus wait for a home. The Christians who feel the sin of this Earth wait for a return of Jesus. And those who look a little closer to today wait for the joy that Jesus brings into our lives at Christmas. Maybe I don’t start my Christmas celebrations until after Thanksgiving. Maybe others start it sooner. Maybe that’s okay. We’re all waiting, anxiously, for Jesus. Come, Lord Jesus!