In Longfellow’s classic I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day every stanza ends with the phrase “peace on earth, goodwill to men.” Unless you’ve been living someplace that doesn’t get the daily news, you might be saying, “Peace on earth? Really? I just don’t see it….” Or as Ebenezer Scrooge might say, “Peace on earth? Bah! Humbug!”
A humbug is an imposter, or something empty of meaning.
The third stanza of I Heard The Bells seems almost to slide into that Christmas humbug note: “And in despair I bowed my head: ‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said. ‘For hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, goodwill to men.’”
Indeed, even for those who call themselves a Christian, Christmas could become a humbug if…
Between Malachi (the last book of the Old Testament) and Matthew (the first book of the New Testament) is a time span of about 400 years that is called “the dark period.” God had promised through Jeremiah that He would restore the Israelites and rebuild Jerusalem. There were promises of the Messiah coming to set things right, but after 400 years of darkness, the mindset of most Israelites was probably, “Messiah? Peace? Bah! Humbug!!”
What God really promised through Jeremiah was a peace that came about as a result of two things: (1) forgiveness of sins and (2) restoration of a perfect relationship with God. The Hebrew word for “peace” is shalom, which means one’s personal sense of wholeness and well-being, free from anxiety and fear, knowing that all is well between my soul and God.
This is what God promises—I will cleanse them from ALL the sin they have committed against Me and will forgive ALL their sins of rebellion against Me (Jeremiah 33:8).
This shalom is what comes through the First Advent of Jesus! As Longfellow observed, “Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: God is not dead nor doth He sleep; the wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, goodwill to men.”
And this is what Jesus brought—
The bells and carols and remembrances of Christ’s First Advent should send our hearts soaring in anticipation of Christ’s Second Advent—when Christ shall return to take all of His own to be with Him forever, where He will wipe away every tear and where we live forever with Him in the New Jerusalem (see Jeremiah 33:9; John 14:3; Revelation 21:1-4).
Let us guard against Christmas ever becoming a humbug—an imposter, something empty of meaning—but let’s make sure the rich meaning of Christ’s peace dwells richly in us!
Join us this Sunday as we continue our look at the carols of Christmas!
This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.
Our Secure Future Hope
First, Christ is all. Next Christ is in all His people, but the consummation, the top-stone of all, is that God may be all in all [1 Corinthians 15:22-28]. …
The fact is, our Lord Jesus Christ has performed and is still performing a work that will end in putting everything into its proper order. …
Christ is come into the world that all of the evil that is in the world should be subdued. And He will drive it out of the world. There will remain no power that will dare revolt against the Majesty of Heaven! Over the whole surface of this globe, beneath the new heavens and on the new earth, there will yet be the kingdom established all of which Jesus Christ will be the Supreme Head and over which He will reign forever, King of kings and Lord of lords! The Lord hasten it in His own time! …
I don’t know whether you catch my thought yet, but it is just this: all evil subdued, all the saints having Christ dwelling in them, Christ the head of all these saints, and then God, still as God, all the more surely and securely supreme over all things, or the head of Christ is God and God is all in all. …
I want to you, beloved friends, so to live as to be persuaded that it will be so one day, that God will be all in all—that there will come a time when we will stand before the throne of God, God in us all, and everything in us of God, when all His elect, all His redeemed, all to whom Christ is all, and all in whom Christ is, will only know God as their All-in-All!
From All And All In All
What a glorious future hope is secured for God’s saints!
If we know what is coming, why would we fear today? If our hope is secure, that means our today is secure as well. That’s why David could confidently say: I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken (Psalm 16:8).