Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A Visitor from Another World: A Christmas Thought Part XX

If you were to beam down on this planet this holiday season, what would you see?  Huge crowds of people gathered in large areas, running to and fro.  Everywhere are multi-colored lights, lavish displays of goods in windows, and large groups of people moving quickly from one busy area to another, all acting as if they were in an urgent pursuit of something...

Beautiful decorated trees would catch your eye, standing as sentinels and calling to the crowds to come and gather.  Follow the crowds back to their homes, and still the lights and decorations would continue to dazzle you.  Then leave the lighted trees and lawn displays and travel some distance away.

There, the crowds would be of a different nature, huddled together, seeking warmth and shelter.  The contrast would be overwhelming from your earlier encounter with the planet.  No colorful lights; just angry blasts of light that leave destruction in their wake.  Crying children, blood and rubble fill the streets.  People flee in an urgent pursuit of something...

Now, travel back in time.  Way back.  To a distant land.  Upon a hill stands a magnificent temple, lit up in the cool of the evening with torches.  Gray curling smoke rises, along with chanting, into the dark desert skies.

Now, wander away to a little town.  Poor, quiet and empty.  The only light is from small lamps, aglow near small windows.  You gaze into the night sky, and a star captures you with its presence. It shines not over the distant temple, but over this small town, over a small stable.  You hear the quiet cry of a baby...

You wonder... Are all those beautiful lights, crying children and this star over a small stable somehow connected?

Listen.  A distant voice is calling: "Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.  But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.  For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken falsely, and your tongue mutters wicked things. No one calls for justice; no one pleads a case with integrity.  They rely on empty arguments, they utter lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil...Their feet rush into sin; they are swift to shed innocent blood.  They pursue evil schemes; acts of violence mark their ways.  The way of peace they do not know; there is no justice in their paths.  They have turned them into crooked roads; no one who walks along them will know peace." (Is. 59:1-4; 7-8)

It strikes you.  This is what you are witnessing.  People running to and fro, lost in the empty pursuit of what they hope will distract them from their sinful hearts.  They lie to to one another and have forgotten that character and integrity matter.  Even in the countries ablaze with the colored lights, children cry and die. Violence is everywhere; it's just more obvious in those countries where the only lights are exploding bombs. 

Peace is elusive.  Everywhere.  

Then the voice continues: "So justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us.  We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows.  Like the blind we grope along the wall, feeling our way like people without eyes.  At midday we stumble as if it were twilight;
among the strong, we are like the dead." (Is. 59:9-10)

The crying of the voice grows louder: "For our offenses are many in your sight, and our sins testify against us. Our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities: rebellion and treachery against the Lord, turning our backs on our God, inciting revolt and oppression, uttering lies our hearts have conceived. So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter. Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey."  (Is. 59:12-15)

You hang your head.  The whole of humanity has raised its voice in one great lamentation.  Despite the noise, the lights and the tears, people seem to know something has gone terribly wrong.  Their actions have brought devastating results.  

You stand in silence.  The cry from human hearts is unbearable.  

Then you hear a Voice rising above the cry: "The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm achieved salvation (yasha) for him, and his own righteousness sustained him.  He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation (yeshua) on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak." (Is. 59:15-17)

Then this voice shouts an acclamation that drowns out, for a moment, the wailing from all over this planet: “'The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,' declares the Lord." (Is. 59:20)

You ponder:  Yasha means to deliver and yeshua means salvation. 

Then it hits you.  You heard the name of that baby lying in that manger, under that was Yeshua.

You are not the only visitor from another world.

You board your ship with hope in your heart that this planet can be redeemed.  You wonder as you speed off into black space, looking one last time at that blue dot:  Do the people hear that same Voice?  Do they realize the Hope that awaits them?

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