In the Bible we get to see real people who really lived and did real things in history.
Most importantly, we get to see how they interacted with and followed God.
I recently read through the book of Judges and was encouraged by the many stories of God working in and through people to rescue Israel throughout their initial years in the promise land and I wanted to encourage you with one of these many stories.
Ehud was one of the earliest characters in the book of Judges. He was a left-handed man who was able to use this uniqueness to get past the security protecting Eglon, the king of Moab, who was oppressing Israel at that time.
After getting past the guards and killing Eglon, Ehud says something to his fellow Israelites that is very telling of his character:
“And he said to them, “Follow after me, for the Lord has given your enemies the Moabites into your hand.” So they went down after him and seized the fords of the Jordan against the Moabites and did not allow anyone to pass over.”
Notice that he doesn’t take the credit for what God was doing through him.
He could have quickly gathered fame and wealth by taking this opportunity to gather Israel around himself rather than around God.
Yes, he was their leader; he told them to follow after him. But he made clear that God was the one giving them the battle, That God was the one for them to ultimately follow, thank and worship.
It’s easy to do one of two things:
To simply press on and simply serve God by yourself
To gather other people around you to build yourself, your vision, and your “kingdom” up
But it’s much harder to be willing to bring others along, to disciple them, to encourage them, to serve alongside them, to lead them – but to make sure that everyone keeps their eyes on God, and not you.
But that’s what we’re called to do.
To simply follow Jesus, And to encourage others to follow us and do the same.
Not so that we may gain from it, But that they may be blessed, and God glorified.
May we be like Ehud, Doing the difficult work, And calling others to come alongside And follow God together.
Although that’s all the verses I wanted to cover, each verse ends with the same phrase that I wanted to point out (specifically the day after Christmas):
Emmanuel Shall Come
There is an incredible amount of prophecy surrounding how God was to come into our world as our Redeemer.
And in that prophecy, there’s a clear understanding that He will come through and for Israel, but that His work would then benefit and be for all people of all nations.
As the angel described:
“Good news of great joy that will be for all people.”
This repeated phrase reminds us to hold onto this hope throughout the song.
Rejoice! For Emmanuel will come. Rejoice! For Thou Lord of Might will come. Rejoice! For Thou Rod of Jesse will come. Rejoice! For Thou Key of David will come. Rejoice! For Thou Dayspring will come.
And He comes for the whole world.
Every nation, Every tribe, Every tongue, Every person.
Waiting On God
The prophecies of the coming Messiah were written long before Jesus came, and so the original hearers and readers had to be patient and wait expectantly.
We, similarly, have to wait on God as well.
Jesus has come, Jesus has paid the price for our sins, Jesus has given us His Spirit,
But our lives are still imperfect, Much of world around us is still broken and without Him.
We are in the “already” and “not yet”.
We are in the in-between of being fully justified, yet not in heaven with Jesus just yet.
And so we have to remind ourselves of the hope we have in Him.
So, as we are now in the day after Christmas, I encourage you to consider the waiting that led up to Christmas and the waiting we now have as Christians.
Jesus has come, But He is still redeeming this world.
And as we wait, we too can hope in Him, And continue to say, as they did waiting for His first arrival:
“Come quickly, Lord Jesus, come.”
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
This is Part 5 covering the Scriptural background for the lyrics of the song “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”. You can read the earlier posts at these links: part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4.
The fifth verse of the song goes like this:
“Thou Dayspring” refers to the morning dawn. This verse is calling for the rising sun/Son to bring cheer to our hearts and to remove the darkness of night and death.
This idea of a “rising star” starts back in Numbers 24:17:
“I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near: a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel; it shall crush the forehead of Moab and break down all the sons of Sheth.”
God promised to bring light where there was once darkness from the light of Himself.
In fact, Jesus gives Himself later in Revelation 22:16
“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”
Jesus is this “dayspring,” this “dawn,” this “morning star” Who brings light into our darkness as we see in the book of John:
“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
Paul continues this analogy of God bringing light into the darkness of our hearts and lives in 2 Corinthians 4:6:
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:6
All this to day:
Jesus is our light, Jesus is Who breaks the darkness of night, Jesus dispersease the gloomy cloudy in our lives, Jesus removes the dark shadows of death,
Because Jesus brings light and life to all who receive Him.
I pray that if you don’t know Jesus, that you receieve His light into your life today, And if you already know Him, that you allow Him to infiltrate your life even fuller this Christmas, allowing His light to penetrate every part of your heart and life more fully and ever before.
As you consider these truths, here are more verses you can read and be encouraged by:
Isaiah 9:2, Luke 1:79, 1 Peter 2:9, Ephesians 5:8, John 8:12, Acts 26:18
This “Key of David” references the power that the Messiah will have to open doors that no one else may close and to shut doors that no one else may open.
This reference and prophecy comes from Isaiah 22:22:
“And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David. He shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.”
And then this prophecy is shown to be fulfilled in Jesus, later in Revelation 3:7:
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.”
And Open Wide Our Heavenly Home…
This “Key of David” does speak to Jesus’ power to open and close opportunities in every sense of the word, but it does point to specifically – and most importantly – how Jesus holds the keys of life and Death and Hades being the conqueror of them (Revelation 1:18).
Jesus’ power to open up heaven and shut out death forever is the culmination His sacrifice and resurrection. He holds the power to open up the doors of life for each of us, and to close the door leading to death.
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
Jesus has opened up our permanent home and life in heaven, with Him.
He holds the Key of David that gives Him the power and right to do so.
But will we seek Him? Will we desire this new Home above our current one? Will we seek His Kingdom first, rather than our own?
He holds the keys, He’s opened the door, And He offers it to us.
Let’s remember the great gift of life and a new citizenship in heaven that awaits for us because of what Jesus did by coming to earth this Christmas season.
Here are a couple verses for you to read, reflect on and I pray you’re blessed by them.
Jesus isn’t often refereed to as the “rod of Jesse,” but the reference comes from Isaiah 11:1–2 and is referenced by Paul in Romans 15:12.
The idea is that someone will come from Jesse, being a descendant of Jesse, and this person will save “His own” from “Satan’s tyranny,” from hell and the grave.
Although Satan isn’t the all-powerful god he would like us to believe he is, he does have great power over the earth since the fall and is even described as the king and ruler of this world in its fallen state.
However, part of Jesus’ coming is to bring about the release of “prisoners” subjected to sin and death brought about by the deception of Satan.
“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.”
Victory o’er the grave
Every year I live, I experience more death from those around me. However, through the Gospel of Jesus, death has a very different position in my life.
What use to be considered “the end” is now really just the transition from this life and into the next.
Death is still difficult, painful and sad, as we weren’t originally created to experience it, but it no longer has the final word which causes the situation to be felt very differently.
Paul puts it this way in 1 Thessalonians 4:13:
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.”
1 Thessalonians 4:13
Paul is explaining the Gospel resurrection to the church of Thessalonica about how believing in the life to come with Jesus causes us to grieve differently than people who believe that death is truly the end.
And this conquering of death’s finishing work is exactly what Jesus came to do.
The prophet Hosea wrote this about how we will one day relate to death:
“I [God] shall ransom them from the power of Sheol; I shall redeem them from Death. O Death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion is hidden from my eyes.”
This verse is quoted in 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 as Paul explains that this conquering of death has be completed through the Gospel.
That we no longer fear death because we know that eternal life meets us on the other side – and this also causes a new outlook of death as we look at those we love who have already made that journey.
What brings all of these ideas to a close is how Jesus ultimately will one-day handle death:
“Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.”
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
One day, Jesus will return and not just make death a simple passing between now and eternity – but He will remove it altogether.
Jesus will essentially kill death.
He’s already removed it’s sting by taking away it’s final word, And one day He will put it in the lake of fire to remove it completely from our lives.
Like I mentioned before, each verse in this song brings us to an “already but not yet” situation.
Jesus has started the process of redemption, Removing death’s sting, But redemption is still in process, Death still exists.
And so, as we celebrate the good work God has already done, We’re also called to remember and mourn the state the world is still in.
But we mourn in hope. We mourn in expectation.
That God has started the work, And that He will complete it.