Saturday, December 24, 2022

"The Days Are Coming" [Matt's Messages] 2022

“The Days Are Coming”
Christ Candle Lighting :: Christmas Eve
December 24, 2022

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

I say that every year! “Advent means coming,” because people use that word “advent,” and they don’t know what it means. It means, “arriving,” “getting there,” “coming,” so the Prophet Jeremiah would have loved it because one of his favorite phrases was, “The days are coming...”

Jeremiah uses that phrase again and again in his book, “The days are coming...”

He’s talking about the future. Something that isn’t here yet but most definitely will be. A prophecy.

“The days are coming...”

Ever since April, our church family has been studying together the Prophesy of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah who was a prophet in the nation of Judah for 40 years from about 627 BC to 586 BC–about 600 years before Jesus was born that first Christmas day. This is my 25th Christmas as the pastor of Lanse Free Church. I’ll have to go 15 more years to catch up to Jeremiah!

We’ve learned that Jeremiah had a very hard message to deliver to the nation for those 40 years. He was a broken record about how they had broken their covenant with God and were going to face His judgment. 

The kings of Judah were supposed to wisely shepherd God’s people, but instead of caring for their “flock,” the kings had foolishly destroyed and scattered it. These were dark days for the kingdom of Judah. We are living in some dark days, as well, and I don’t just mean December!

But the days are coming when all of that is going to change.

In the midst of that darkness Jeremiah spoke bright words of hope.


On the first Sunday of Advent, Robin, Andrew, and Peter (Isaac was sick) lit our first candle and proclaimed it a Candle of Hope.

Listen as I read to you Jeremiah chapter 23, verses 1 through 8. This has been the focus text of our Advent Season. Jeremiah 23:1-8. As I read it, listen for that advent phrase that Jeremiah loves so much, “The days are coming.”  Listen for how he describes those days. Listen especially to WHAT Jeremiah says is going to happen someday in the future and WHO is going to do it.

Jeremiah begins by pronouncing woe (w-o-e terrible judgment) upon the foolish kings of Judah for how they have misshepherded God’s people. Chapter 23, verse 1.


Do you hear the hope in those words?

Sometimes I get little depressed by how gloomy the book of Jeremiah can be. And how gloomy the month of December can be. It’s especially gloomy for people who are grieving. Christmas is especially hard for those who have lost someone either recently or long ago. Just look at all of the names for the Poinsettias on the back of your bulletin and think of all of the grief that they represent. You feel it more deeply at Christmas when you see the empty place at the family table.

We are living in dark days. And yet the light shines brighter in the darkness.

Have you ever lit a candle and marveled at it in the broad daylight? No! You don’t “get” the power of a candle until you turn off the lights. We’re going to turn off all of the lights in this room soon, and then we will see the power of a candle!

This prophecy is a candle of hope. These bad shepherds were not the end of the story. The LORD has promised to bring a Good Shepherd. A Great Shepherd! And through that Shepherd to bring all of His flock together into His pasture. And we know Who that Good Shepherd is (John 10:10-11). It is the Baby Who was born on that first Christmas Eve.

It’s Jesus. The days of hope are coming.


On the Second Sunday of Advent, Greg and Dorothy lit our second candle and said that it was a Candle of Peace.

Did you hear the words of peace and security in Jeremiah 23? When the new and good Shepherd comes, His people will “no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing” (v.4) Jeremiah says they will “live in safety” (v.6). Peace will reign when the Messiah comes. God’s people will finally feel safe and secure. They will no longer feel unsettled or skittish or lost. We will dwell in perfect safety with no fear of any kind.

Doesn’t that just sound wonderful?!

Are those days here? Not yet. We can experience a measure of peace right here and right now if we belong to Jesus. But there is so much war in this world. So much conflict. So much disagreement. So much animosity. So many threats. Jesus said “In this world, you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.” 

The days of peace are coming.


On the third Sunday of Advent, Will, Rachel, Elaina, Reid, and Rylie lit our third candle and said that it stood as a Candle of Wisdom.

They read verse 5 to us which says, “‘The days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.’” This king will come from the line of David. And He will, in fact, be born in the same city as David was, the little town of Bethlehem. And when He reigns, He will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.

Doesn’t that sound good?! 

There is so much bad leadership in our world. Lacking in wisdom. As a pastor who leads a church, I often feel starved for wisdom myself. What is the right thing to do in this situation? The pandemic raised so many questions. As a leader, I often make mistakes. I’m often confused and confounded. Just ask my wife. I routinely don’t know the right thing to do.

But the Messiah will reign with discernment, discretion, prudence, and justice. He will make no mistakes. He will always know the right thing to do.

The Bible says that in Jesus are hidden all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3)! All of the treasures! That manger held all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge! 
The coming kingdom will be marked by unimaginable wisdom.

The days of wisdom are coming.


On the fourth Sunday of Advent, Mike and Gail lit this pink candle and told us that it was a Candle of Righteousness. And they pointed out that the Messiah will be so full of true righteousness that it will actually be His name! Jeremiah says, “This is the name by which he will be called, ‘The LORD Our Righteousness” (v.6).

The Righteous Branch will overflow with moral goodness and ethical perfection. Not only will He always KNOW the right thing in His wisdom, but He will always DO the right thing in His righteousness! 

He will live up to His name! He will be holy and blameless. And so will be His people! You know why?

Is it because we are so good? Are we good people? No, the Bible says that you and I are sinners. We are rebels against a holy God. The Bible says that we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The Bible says that our righteousness is like filthy rags. We are unholy. Unclean. Unrighteous.

But the Bible also says here that the Messiah will be called “The LORD our Righteousness!” He is going to give us His righteousness as a gift! What an amazing Christmas gift that is!

The Bible says in Romans 3, “[A] righteousness from God [a gift], apart from law [apart from anything we do!], has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets [like Jeremiah] testify. This righteousness from God [a gift] comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified [made righteous!] freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:21-24 NIVO).

They days of righteousness are coming because of Jesus Christ. 

You see, Jesus Christ, the Righteous One, was executed on a cruel Roman instrument of torture and death called The Cross. He was crucified, and dead, and buried. The little baby Jesus born in Bethlehem grew up to die, “to suffer on the cross for you and I” to give us His righteousness.

The Bible says, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21-6:1 NIVO). What a gift exchange that is! We give Him our sin. He gives us His righteousness!

Because Jesus did not stay dead! He was raised to make us righteous (Romans 4:25). As the Christmas carol says, the “Sun of Righteousness has risen with healing in His wings.” (cf. “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”).

Have you received that healing, from sin?
Have you received the Righteousness of God?
Not by your own efforts but by Jesus’s sacrifice in your place?
Have you received the gift of Christ’s righteousness?

It is my privilege to invite you to receive His gift right now.


The last candle is always the Christ Candle. Because Jesus Christ is the point of the whole thing. 

He is the Messiah that all of these candles are all about.
He is the Messiah that all of these prophesies are all about.
He is the Messiah Who fulfills them all.
He is the Messiah who brings salvation.

The days are coming when the Christ shall come.

Jeremiah could barely see it from where he stood, but he could see it. And he could see that it would be a great salvation. Greater than even the Exodus from Egypt. Jeremiah says in the last verses of our text for this year, “‘So then, the days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when people will no longer say, 'As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,' but they will say, 'As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the descendants of Israel up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.' Then they will live in their own land’” (Jer. 23:1-8 NIVO).

That’s the return from the exile. and that prefigures an even greater return. 

The return of Jesus Christ! The Second Advent.

Jesus came the first time and inaugurated the days of hope, peace, wisdom, and righteousness, but the days are coming when it will be all hope, all peace, all wisdom, and righteousness and all to the glory of Christ!

So the big question everybody asks in December is always, “Are you ready for Christmas?” And I never know how to answer that one. I often will say, “I’m on track, but I’m never ‘ready’ for Christmas.”

But the bigger question is: Are you ready for the days that are coming?

They aren’t here yet, but they are sure to come and soon to come.

Because Jesus Christ is coming soon.