Zechariah 8:1-23, Revelation 16:1-21, Psalms 144:1-15, Proverbs 30:29-31
Today is the 25th day of December. Welcome to the Daily Audio Bible. I am Brian. It is great to be here with you today. Obviously, today is Christmas Day. So, Merry Christmas. What a day of celebration. Joy to the world, the Lord has come.
Joy to the World
Alright. So, even though it’s Christmas day and there’s a lot going on such, it is such a joy and an honor to be here on Christmas around this Global Campfire, maintaining this rhythm of allowing God’s word to speak into our lives every day, no matter what day it is. It is a joy to be here with you on Christmas day, taking the next step forward in the Scriptures. And we’ve the reading from the Good News Translation this week. So, we’ll continue with that. And today we’ll read from Zechariah, chapter 8.
Okay. So, this…this marks my 14th Christmas of reading the Daily Audio Bible. So, this is my 14th Christmas day reading this portion of Scripture. And it's…it’s really interesting. I mean…in years gone by, I can read this portion of Scripture and go like, “man…could there be any other portion of Scripture that we could read on Christmas day because this is…this is just a lot of judgment and a lot of really horrible, horrible things happening on the earth in the book of Revelation. And I, you know, my…I mean…my temperament…I’ve been a creative my entire…I mean…I’ve made my way in the world by creating things. And, so, that kind of gives me a natural kind of melancholy temperament. And, so, when the rhythms of my life change, like if I’m finishing a lengthy project and finally that it’s done and there’s that lull or there’s the disruption of the patterns of life like Christmas and there’s kind of sort of this pause, this lull, this different thing. Even though it may be incredibly joyous, just underneath it all is like the blues, I guess, is the best way to describe it. Sort of this unsettledness, this…this I don’t think I would go as far as to say depression or anything just kind of like, why, why isn’t everything right today. Everything. Everything around me, like friends, family, gifts, joy, festivities, feasting all…all of the things that we should do to commemorate and celebrate the arrival of the Savior. Like it’s all here, it's…it’s all good, why does it feel like something’s missing? And I usually…like I can feel it even as I’m talking about it. And, you know, being an introvert with a lot of festivity and a lot of people around, at some point during the day I will sneak away for a few minutes somewhere and just, you know, kind of breathe and then it just kind of bubbles up and I can…I can feel that, that kind of melancholy, that kind of, “what is missing from an otherwise perfect day that would make me feel this way? What am I missing? What is it that I can’t name? What is it that I can’t find that’s causing this?” And I don’t think I’m alone. I’ve talked to a lot of people in my life. I don’t think I’m alone. I think more of us than not experience this at some point during this season. And over the years, I’ve even taken that, the questioned God, “what is this? Like, what am I missing? I am tuned in. Like, I am so thankful and so grateful that you would come and rescue I…I can’t even believe the story that I’m celebrating today because it changes everything in the world. And, so, I am rejoicing and it is joy to the world and I am happy and what is going on here? And I’ve even…even read the stories from Revelation, read this passage of Scripture on Christmas day and thought, “man…what is going on here because this just kinda feeds into it.” But I’ve realized, at least with this particular portion of Scripture over the years, something…something pretty important for us to remember and maybe even some words to touch the empty place inside that…that many of us feel at some point today. Yesterday in Revelation we were standing in a very, very interesting place that’s very hard to imagine. We were standing on the shores of sea of glass on fire and next to that sea were the remaining brothers and sisters who had endured until the end and God had given them harps and they were singing a song of worship, an ancient song of Moses, but also the fact that this is a prophetic vision and this is in the future. So, we’re like standing there with our brothers and sisters who endured until the end watching them worship God. And, so, we turn the page and we get to today and there is these bowls of God’s wrath being poured out upon the earth, and it just seems completely merciless because it pretty much is because what we’re seeing today is our little baby Jesus, born helpless, lying in a manger. We’re seeing him all grown up. And what’s happening in the book of Revelation today isn’t just God being mad and foretelling some kind of judgment with the invitation to return to Him. Everyone that is going to return to Him has. What we’re seeing today is a merciless outpouring of God’s wrath upon evil itself. Unfortunately, as the story goes, there are people that are swept up into that and those are the ones who refused…refused in the face of utter destruction to turn to God and live. But nevertheless this is an all out attack by the God of Angel armies, the Savior, on evil on the things that have been destroying the planet and destroying the people. And isn’t that what we’re praying for when we pray come Lord Jesus? Isn’t that what we’re asking for when we ask God to make all things new again? Isn’t this our hope, that one day evil itself will be eradicated and annihilated from existence? Wow. That is a Christmas story because Christmas carried the story of God’s redemptive power and plan forward. So, for me, as I’ve snuck away to have private moments on Christmas and just kind of sit with the feeling that something’s missing, or something’s not right I’ve thought to myself, that's…that’s how it is. Like what I’m feeling is deep, I can’t name it because it’s cheaper than my words. It’s my soul, longing to be restored. It is my soul longing for things to be as they are supposed to be. When we read this passage in Revelation, we have a prophetic vision that God fully intends to restore all things. But in order for that to happen the deception that has been deceiving the human race since the Garden of Eden must be eradicated and annihilated. Before all things become new all things that are old need to pass away. And what a metaphor for us on this day. What a metaphor for us as we move into the final week of the year. The old has to pass away for the new to come. And even in our own lives when we face struggles we might fight so hard just to return to the status quo when God may be inserting obstacles in our way that are intended to rid us of the old so that the new can come, so that this longing that just never really goes away inside of us, this longing for restoration so that it can actually happen.
So, I’m not sure how festive the Christmas message this is for me to give to you today. I am quite certain there is no shortage of wonderful, magnificent Christmas retellings and Christmas messages for today. This is just what Christmas kind of shapes up like for me and I know I’m not alone. And if you feel that and maybe you experience it is loneliness or maybe, you know, you experience it as an any number of disruptive emotions. But probably if you sit with that, maybe loneliness would be the thing because maybe your alone today or maybe that…maybe somebody’s missing…like my mom…and my mom is missing from the world and I hate that at this time of year, that my father is gone from this world, I hate that at this time of year. So, it’s easy for us like to identify like a loneliness or loss or grief or any of these things, but I believe that if we actually can get still for a few minutes that what this boils down to is a deep ancient longing. We are groaning along with all of creation for restoration, and it is so good. It is so good to find that place because Christmas represents the fact that we are headed in that direction if we are in Christ
And, so, I pray a blessed Christmas over You. Holy Spirit we invite You. We realize that there is no where we can go from Your presence. And, so, You are in and among us as a community all over the world. As we celebrate Your arrival, You’re coming for us and we invite Your Holy Spirit into these places that…that feel out of…out of sync with the holiday. We invite You into those places of deep longing and we ask that You whisper into our souls, the truth that all things are being made new, that we are going somewhere and that that somewhere is good. And we thank You Jesus, for coming for us and modeling life for us. And we ask as the spirit of Christmas, as all of these festivities are at their height today, that we embrace them fully, that we drink deeply…deeply of joy today. Come Holy Spirit we pray. In the name of Jesus, we ask. Amen.
Merry Christmas everyone. I love you and I’ll be waiting for you here tomorrow.
Joy to the World