“In Christ is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:3)
What you observe of something on the surface doesn’t always give the complete picture of its actual substance. To many who look at Jesus, He appears to be nothing more than a good, moral teacher who left humanity with some principles for life that are worth pondering. It’s only when you dig deeper into Christ that you discover Jesus is unimaginably and unfathomably more. “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” is an ancient hymn that masterfully unpacks the hidden treasures of Christ by unveiling its own hidden treasures. Originally written by 8th-century monks, the hymn was used during Advent to set the expectation of Christ’s coming leading up to Christmas. It’s a beautiful song, but the true hidden gem lies within the structure of the poem. Seven days before Christmas Eve monasteries would sing the “O Antiphons” in anticipation of Christmas Eve. These were songs declaring different attributes of Jesus. In “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” these antiphons are gathered into one song and speak of the various titles of Jesus. Each verse of the hymn calls for Jesus to “come” and addresses a unique part of His identity and mission.
Jesus is Emmanuel (Isaiah 8:8) – Being “God with us,” Christ reveals to us the heart of God the Father.
Jesus is the Rod of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1) – Springing from a dead stump, He will free His people from Satan’s tyranny by death and resurrection, making them free forever.
Jesus is the Dayspring (Luke 1:78) – As the Light of the World, Jesus will shine God’s righteousness and banish darkness forever.
Jesus is the Key of David (Isaiah 22:22) – He alone holds the keys to life and death. He opens doors no man can shut and has unlocked the gate for us into heaven.
Jesus is the Desire of Nations (Haggai 2:7) – One day He will rule and reign over every nation, tribe, and tongue with His benevolent and mighty hand.
The song becomes an even more intriguing treasure when you discover that the antiphons create an acrostic, and when you reverse the acrostic, it becomes that Latin phrase “Ero Cras,” meaning “I will be present tomorrow.” It appears that even the early monks were hoping and praying for the quick return of Jesus! They also recognized that Jesus was ever present for every need. May this also be true of us in every area of life. For every longing and need we have, we must begin with the simple prayer, “O come, O come, Jesus!” We will discover that Jesus isn’t merely the answer to our salvation; He is the answer to everything else as well.
Go into any store, restaurant, or other consumer establishments shortly after Thanksgiving ends, and you’re sure to hear familiar tunes over the bustling crowds that only show up once every year. In between “Jingle Bells” and “Silver Bells,” there’s a good chance you’ll hear no bells at all; there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself thoughtlessly humming along to the humble story penned in “Silent Night.” I say thoughtlessly not because you’re a thoughtless person, but because familiarity with something can often cause us to overlook its significance. How many hundreds of thousands of people sing “Silent Night” every year as part of their Christmas traditions, but ultimately skim over the jaw-dropping theological truths found hidden beneath the surface of those 19th-century lyrics?
There was once a young boy who was singing this well-loved Christmas carol in church when he, with a perplexed look on his face, turned and asked his mother, “Mom, who is Herald?” Likewise, many of us have probably sung this tagline hundreds of times without thinking much about what the words mean. If we translated the title into modern day vernacular, it would read something like, “Listen! The angels are singing a heavenly message!”
It would be difficult for any of us to conceive of what life and ministry would have been like during the height of the American Civil War. Who would have imagined that the Civil War would have been a backdrop for one of the most beautiful and beloved Christmas carols of our time? Phillips Brooks, the author of the “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” was an Episcopal priest, a powerful preacher and committed American patriot in the mid-late 19th century. He was a vocal advocate of the abolitionist cause and believed the gospel should infiltrate and saturate the practical world, bringing forth equity and justice for all.
As many of you know, I’ve been posting updates on the progress of California’s AB 2943 bill. In a disappointing but unsurprising vote, the California Senate has overwhelmingly decided to move AB 2943 to the assembly for final approval before heading the governor’s desk. This bill prohibits the exchange of money for any efforts to help someone navigate coming out of an LGBTQ sexual identity. In reality, this bill isn’t about money or business practices, but about a minority group of people who want our laws to declare that there is nothing wrong with the LGBTQ lifestyle.
Does this anger me? Sure. I have a level of righteous anger at this arrogant and blatant disregard for personal freedom and God’s moral standards. Like righteous Lot surrounded by the perversion of Sodom and Gomorrah, I too have a vexed soul. But the larger part of me is saddened. It grieves me to consider those who genuinely want help but will not be able to find it easily. I’m broken-hearted for those who will spend their lives being affirmed by society in a false and dangerous sexual identity. I fear for the godless men and women who think they are casting an archaic God out of their modern society, but in reality, are only storing up judgment for themselves.
This battle is about more than a bill; it’s about the need for revival and salvation to come to our state and nation. Thankfully we serve a God who uses Satan’s schemes for His ultimate glory. It will be amazing to see how God uses this development to bring about His greater plan.
People of God, continue to pray! Pray for our leaders and our state. Love your neighbor, preach the gospel, and stand for truth. I rejoice that we are going to see God move in mighty ways in the days to come!
July 4, 1776, represents the day when the thirteen original colonies rarified their declaration of independence, declaring their sovereignty and freedom from the rule of the United Kingdom of Britain. Most people don’t stop to consider that the war for that independence didn’t come to an end until November 30, 1782, approximately six years after Congress signed that landmark document. In other words, freedom was declared a reality before the battle was over.
Update on Bill AB 2943: This bill passed overwhelmingly in California. The good news is that Jesus is still on the throne. My heart is broken, and at the same time, I know that God must have something amazing in store for His church! We will continue to preach the truth that sets people free! Church, don’t stop praying, don’t stop loving, and don’t be afraid!
UPDATE on AB 2943: The CA State Assembly has not yet voted on AB2943 and may not until this Thursday, April 19th. So let your Assembly member know where you stand today.
What a week it’s been! Watching the things going on in our world right is like watching the Bible come to life. US and allied forces confronting Syria, Russia and China on the other side (BTW, you should read Isaiah 17:1 and Jeremiah 49:24-27). In addition to real military action, there are agenda wars going on, and political games afoot. Who knows what or who to believe in it all. It almost feels as though someone has their finger on the hairline trigger of WW3. Thankfully, we as Christians know how it all ends, and Who’s really sovereign at the end of the day. In the middle of so much chaos, it’s comforting to know that God’s Word and its prophecy can be trusted!
Not only is the world scene heating up, right here in California there is a political agenda that is subversively targeting those of us who hold a Biblical worldview. Now let me say, I’m glad that we don’t live in the Roman empire. There’s no doubt that the Christ-less agendas and difficulties we are experiencing as 21st century western Christians pale in comparison to the injustice and persecution that the apostles and the early Christians had to endure (or even modern day Christians in other parts of the world).Things could get much worse for us, and if they do we as Christ followers are called to endure. Having said that, we also live in acountry that has afforded us the legal right to be part of choosing the laws and lawmakers that set the moral tone and legal standards for life in the US, and in California.
Right now there are a total of 5 bills in the California state assembly that are reprehensible from the perspective of protecting the rights of American citizens and allowing Christians to practice their convictions under the Constitutional protections of free speech and the freedom of religion.