In my previous post, I brought to the table a Christmas song entitled “My Grown-Up Christmas List.” The chorus of the song appeals to Santa for 4 essential things:
1. No more suffering
2. No more war
3. No more evil
4. Everlasting love
I made the point that this vision of society which the lyricist is asking Santa for has already been promised by one who is “much less fictional and way more powerful than Santa.” I also brought up the point that people should be doing what they can, within their sphere of power and influence, to bring about the songwriter’s requests without asking Santa.
This post is all about what God has in store regarding the end of suffering, war, evil, and His everlasting love. So allow me to take them point by point.
1. No More Suffering
“And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”
Notice particularly the last part of this verse that goes “sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” The imagery tells of suffering not merely ceasing, but it’s hurried departure away from God’s redeemed, joy-filled people. This would have been an exceptionally enticing picture to Isaiah’s audience who would be experiencing exile. Because of suffering, we are all experiencing exile in some way. Our bodies, minds, and emotions were not designed to suffer and be burdened. We were originally designed for the Garden of Eden which entailed no such suffering physically, relationally, or emotionally. But now, people suffer in these ways constantly. This is not as it should be. Isaiah’s prophecy pictures a day when this degeneration of the created order will be restored.
So why ask Santa for that which God has promised for His redeemed? Instead, find endurance for your suffering in the hope of God’s coming restoration. Find satisfaction in the the reality that Jesus became a “man of sorrows” so that you would have sorrow no more.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
2. No More War
“He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”
When God’s final rule extends to the whole earth, those who make war will turn their implements into tools for tilling the land. Instead of fighting, people will be farming. They will be engaging in an activity which makes use of our natural resources and promotes human thriving. This is juxtaposed to war which uses natural products to make weapons which crush human lives and deny humans the ability to flourish.
Why again, would you ask Santa to cease all war? Is he powerful enough to do that? Instead, find solace in the fact that Jesus made the greatest act of war against our true enemies at the cross. And, all praise to God, He defeated them for our sakes!
“He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in [Christ].”
3. No More Evil
“At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the LORD, and all nations shall gather to it, to the presence of the LORD in Jerusalem, and they shall no more stubbornly follow their own evil heart.”
In this passage evil is portrayed as a condition instead of a force. The actions which cause the suffering and war which plague the world come out of people whose hearts are diseased by evil. God promises, that in this day, people will no longer be bound to their evil hearts. This is because God will give them a new heart and will put His Spirit in them so that they will gladly walk in His ways (Ezk. 36:26-27). Then we will no longer hurt and oppress one another, but we will delight in the delight of others as we worship God together.
Can Santa give you a new heart so that you are no longer fundamentally evil? Christ, through His death and resurrection, has secured for you a new heart and sent His Spirit to you. God will finalize all of this in days to come.
4. Everlasting Love
“But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him…”
The love that we exhibit toward one another is typically motivated by self-interest or obligation. This is distinct from God’s love which proceeds from His character, not from an external pressure. God is love and God is eternal. Therefore, His saving, covenantal love is an everlasting love which has no condition. He loves you and saves you because He has loved you from eternity past. We do tend to think of His past love, but what about His future love? Since it is everlasting, that means His love will be showered on His children for eternity to come. What a great future God has in store for those who love Him!
Can Santa bless you with everlasting love and acceptance? Well, he doesn’t ever really promise those things because they aren’t within his power. He promises gifts which will satisfy you for an infinitesimally small amount of time. In fact, they normally just whet your insatiable appetite for more material goods. And they won’t satisfy your need for absolute love and acceptance which can only be found in the eternal love of God. And that love comes because God doled out the penalty for your failures and sin on His Son, Jesus Christ. What an infinitely greater gift then the dissatisfying material goods that you received today!
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I hope and pray that your heart finds such comfort in what God intends to do with this broken world that we live in. His plan and purposes are for our good and are all towards restoration. God is not simply going to burn this world to the ground, He is going to restore it to its former splendor in which no terrible thing will ever happen again. In the next post, I want to explore the responsibility that we who have been redeemed have in the restoration that can begin now.