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Thursday, December 24, 2020

Christ Candle: Let Earth Receive Her King!

 


“Let Earth Receive Her King!”
Christ Candle Lighting :: Christmas Eve
December 24, 2020 :: Psalm 98

“Advent” means “coming.” Christmas is coming–tomorrow! Jesus has come and is coming again.

During this unique Advent season, our Advent readings have explored Psalm 98, the biblical inspiration for Isaac Watts’ beloved Christmas carol, “Joy to the World.”

You probably know already that “Joy to the World” is my all time favorite Christmas carol. When I was little boy, I loved the echo part on the chorus:

“And heav’n and nature sing!
And heav’n and nature sing!

Repeat the sounding joy!
Repeat the sounding joy!

Far as the curse is found!
Far as the curse is found!

And wonders, and wonders, and wonders of His love!”

Well, when Isaac Watts was writing those glorious words 300 years ago, he was deliberately riffing on Psalm 98 which is an Old Testament victory song that joyfully celebrates the marvelous things that the Lord has done in the past and will do in the future when Christ comes again.

[LIGHT FIRST CANDLE AGAIN.]

While I’d rather we were all together, it’s been fun to visit the homes of some of our church families on these Advent Videos.

On the first Sunday of Advent, our newest married couple, Matt and Amy, lit our first candle and told us that it was a candle of preparation.

Listen to the first three verses of Psalm 98.

[READ PSALM 98:1-3]

Psalm 98 looks back on the Lord's triumphs in Israel's history and also looks forward to the Lord's salvation which is coming to the whole world. This song prophesied the coming of the Messiah, the right hand and holy arm of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, worked our salvation on the Cross, rose from the dead, and will soon return bringing the blessings of salvation to the ends of the earth.

Psalm 98 invites us to receive the Lord with great rejoicing. And it also raises the question, “Are we ready for Him?”

Just as we are all preparing for the coming of Christmas tomorrow, we should be preparing our hearts for the coming of Christ.

Are you ready for the return of Jesus Christ?

We don’t know when it’s going to be so, we need to get ready now.

Turn from your sins and receive the Lord Jesus Christ, trusting in what He did for you on the Cross. Don’t let this Christmas go by without knowing Jesus as your Savior and Lord.

As Isaac Watts wrote: “Let ev’ry heart prepare Him room.”

Including your own heart.

[LIGHT SECOND CANDLE AGAIN.]

On the second Sunday of Advent, Rob and Bev (playing “Joy the World” in the background in their living room!) lit the second candle and told us that it was a candle of celebration.

Listen to the Psalm 98, verses 4 through 8.

[READ PSALM 98:4-8]

Do you hear the joy words in there?

“Shout for joy.”
“Sing for joy.”
“Sing before the LORD.”

And it’s not just people who should rejoice. It’s the whole wide world.

The sea roars, the rivers clap their hands, the mountains sing for joy. All of creation participates in the festivity.

The carol says, “Fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains repeat the sounding joy!”

As Christians expecting the blessed return of our rescuing King, we have every reason to rejoice.

I know that 2020 has been filled with a lot of depressing stuff. We all know how hard 2020 has been.

But we who know Jesus and know that He’s come and know that He’s coming again can celebrate every single day because we know how good it’s going to be when He returns.

Which leads us right up to candle number three.

[LIGHT THIRD CANDLE AGAIN.]

Which the delightful and boisterous Crumrine family lit for us and explained that it was a candle of anticipation.

When you read Psalm 98, you get a little taste of how glorious the world will be when it is no longer marred by the ravages of sin.

The psalmist sings a new song because he has just watched the LORD do marvelous things for Israel, and his song prefigures the marvelous things that Jesus will do when He arrives.

At His first Advent, Jesus won our salvation on the Cross and at the Empty Tomb. Then at His second Advent, we will watch as Jesus applies that salvation to every inch of the new creation, undoing everything that is spoiled, broken, and wrong.

The carol says, “He comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found.”

That’s pretty far right now. Think of everything that is not right in our world right now: COVID, Cancer, Racism, Human Trafficking, Wars.

Jesus is going to make His blessings flow as far as the curse is found.

He is going to make all things new. Just think about that!

[LIGHT FOURTH CANDLE AGAIN.]

Which leads us right into our fourth candle, a candle of reflection.

Joe and Molly and their sweet and rambunctious boys lit candle our fourth candle, and they told us that Psalm 98 invites us to reflect on the perfections of the Lord.

Think about the God described in Psalm 98. This God is absolutely righteousness and perfectly faithful in steadfast love.

The psalm says in verse 3, “He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.”

And the psalm ends, “He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity.”

Or as Isaac Watts said it: “He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove the glories of his righteousness and the wonders of his love.”

“The wonders of His love.” Just sit with that tonight.

Imagine a world where everything is perfect because of a Perfect King. The Kingdom of Christ.

[LIGHT THE CHRIST CANDLE.]

That’s the Kingdom that was introduced at the first Christmas.

The King had come and was wrapped in cloths and placed in a manger.

The King had come. But the Kingdom had only come in part. But we are still waiting for the King to come again and to bring the fullness and culmination of His kingdom.

One of the reasons why “Joy to the World” is my favorite Christmas carol is that it isn’t just about Jesus’ first coming, but it’s also and even more about His second coming. His second “Advent.”

So this Christmas Eve, let’s sing of Christ and repeat the sounding joy while wait for Earth to receive her King.

Merry Christmas!

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