25 December 2014

Hope, beyond today


The burnt-out world is so clearly in view-- the troubles of today, the situations which drive us mad-- all front and centre, like this broken pair of trees. Is there any hope for what's ahead? Is there really any reason to be optimistic?

Consider the Sydney Siege less than two weeks ago where two innocents were murdered, or the Pakistani village trying to sort out 140 murders (most of whom were children), and the 8 dead children in Cairns killed by a crazed mother. Is there really hope on Christmas?

According to my friend David Mistzal in Lane Cove, hope to be real and valid has to have an object, benefits, and a means. He said that all three are in view in the story of Simeon, the Bible character. Simeon, according to the story, is an old Jewish man, who was visiting or maybe even took up much time in the Temple in Jerusalem. When he was there one day, about 30 days after the birth of Jesus (which many celebrate today on Christmas), he said his famous "nunc dimitis." It's recorded in Luke chapter 2 in the Bible.

David said that hope is found in an object, often in getting extra cash or finding a problem solver, but the real hope of the world, according to Simeon was Jesus. The Bible says, "Behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him and it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah." (Luke 2.25-26)

That consolation, that comfort, rescue, relief, was found in a person, not in winning a lottery. Hope was in the person of Jesus.

Similarly the benefits are there in the same passage.

"Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel." (Luke 2.29-32)

The great benefits and ministry of the baby would be the bringing of hope and light to a fallen world, and although the boy was only an infant at the time, the old man saw in him the salvation of the world. After all, the boy's name Jesus is in Hebrew Yeshua which means 'salvation!'

Finally, the hope has to come in a certain way, and that hope was given us in the cross of Jesus. Although the birth is required so that a life can be lived, and a man cannot die unless he's first been born, we rarely think of the death of Jesus at this season of the year. His birth is so fun and cute and carol-filled. But in the text we read

Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." (Luke 2.34-35)

The old man was predicting that later on, a sword would pierce Mary's soul, as she watched the spear slice open Jesus' side, as they pierced his hands and feet (see Psalm 22.16) and stabbed him in the head with a crown of thorns.

So hope is in view, even in the picture above. The trees have little hope of restoration, but the mountains declare something more.
The Psalmist said, "Unto the hills I will lift up mine eyes, from where does my help come?" (121.1) Many only look to nature for their hope and thrills. But the Psalmist continued, "My help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth." (verse 2)

Simeon understood that. He waiting in the Temple. His wait was worthwhile. He saw the salvation of the Lord in Yeshua. You can do that also.

The baby in a manger sweet and cute, wrapped in cloths will give way to the living Saviour, if you call on Him, born is the King of Israel. A light to lighten Gentiles and the glory of His people Israel.

Merry Messiahmas!

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