Hag. 2:6 ¶ “For thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the LORD of hosts.
Parris and I are finishing up a ministry trip in Manila, Philippines as I write today’s devotion. Christmas is a big deal in Manila, Christmas trees and decorations are everywhere. Just like we sense in America, there is a conflict in the air as we anticipate the celebration of the Lord’s birth. We see the conflict in the irony of affluence and poverty, sickness and health, joy and sadness as the celebration draws near. This waiting for Christmas pictures what is really going on inside of all of us. Actually the conflict is in creation itself. Creation is groaning in joyful anticipation of the coming kingdom, even in the midst of the conflict and heartbreak all around us in our world. Here is how the Apostle Paul describes this irony all around us from the Message Bible;
Rom. 8:19-21 – “The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens”.
That is exactly what I see in the streets of America and I feel groaning in the hearts of the people in the Philippines. Darkness is increasing as our anticipation deepens.
This is the feeling we get when we think about what it was like in Israel before the birth of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Matthew described the spiritual climate like this,
Matt. 4:15 ¶ “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
Matt. 4:16 the people dwelling in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,
on them a light has dawned.”
There was an unusual darkness settling in on the world when suddenly the darkness gave way to the light in the birth of Christ. That’s how it feels today, we are grieved by the darkness of our world but the joyful expectancy of something about to happen is growing inside of our hearts. As we welcome another Christmas we are really preparing for the Second Advent of our Lord.