Airplanes, Lying Prophets, and the Hope of Christmas
It was here! To my grade school psyche, the Sears Wish Book announced the commencement of the Christmas season like nothing else could. The catalogue’s glossy pages were filled with completely with toys. Quite naturally, the Wish Book deserved my full attention.
One year while I sat on my bottom bunk bed relishing the joy of the Wish Book, I saw it: the glorious P-40, G.I. JOE airplane 1/54 scale. At that moment, my little heart was smitten. I wanted that toy with every ounce of my body. But somehow as the scent of fresh baked cookies and cinnamon candles announced the rapid approach of Christmas, I neglected to let my parents know about the toy. Christmas came and went without any sign of the P-40. Slightly crushed, I determined not to let that mistake happen the next year.
The following November, I grabbed the Wish Book with marker in hand. I was going to highlight my toy of choice for all to see. But, I could not find the P-40! I scanned through every one of the pages. Then, I scanned them again. Still in shock, I flipped through the pages a third time. To my horror, the plane was gone! I looked in other catalogues, but it was nowhere to be found. Many more Christmas came and went without the P-40. But every year, I kept searching for the toy, trusting that one day I would find it!
In a much more meaningful manner, the story of Christmas is also about longing. As generations of Jews before him and after him, the prophet Zephaniah longed for the coming Messiah. Zephaniah looked at ancient Israel and saw evil succeeding. The rich took advantage of the poor. The prophets lied and cheated. And the priest openly defied God. Even pagan nations mocked the God of Israel. The world needed a savoir!
Many of us can empathize with Zephaniah. As we prepare for this wonderful Christmas season, we too see the effects of sin. We are rightfully saddened when we noticed empty chairs that were once filled with the pleasant smiles of loved ones who have passed away. We groan quietly under our breathe as we hear about crimes committed against innocent people. And, we all still have to deal with the ugly sins that plague our own lives, families, and communities.
But here is the exciting news: We have hope! Zephaniah encouraged those around him to, “Be Glad and rejoice will all your heart,” because the Savior is coming (3:14b). He will punish the wicked. More importantly he will save! “The king of Israel, the Lord is in your midst…..The Mighty One, who will save (3:15b,17b).” The prophet looked forward to the coming Messiah because he would remove the reproach of sin from those who believed on Jesus’ name. He would quiet people’s cries for help with his love. He would exalt the lame and the hurting, gathering them to himself. Lips that were once filled with moaning would be turned to joy!
At Christmas, we celebrate the arrival of this long awaited Messiah. We recognize that Christ offers eternal happiness and peace to every person who repents and trusts Jesus as his or her savior! Admittedly, not all sorrow has ended. Although Jesus initiated his kingdom at his birth, he has not fully established it. However, he promises to return and to fully reign. Today we look forward to the complete fulfillment of God’s kingdom when all of the promises that Zephaniah spoke of will be reality. This Christmas let us rejoice that Christ has come to save and that he comes again to reign!
Joy to the world! The Lord is come
Let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven, and heaven and nature sing