25th MESSIANIC SYMBOL for the Advent Season: Manger

December 24, 2009

DECEMBER 25:  Isaiah 9:6

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor,  Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (NIV)

Isaiah 9:6 provides a wonderful summary of the celebration of Christmas—“For to us a child is born!” Usually the arrival of a new baby is cause for celebration. The family may have many hopes and dreams for the baby—perhaps they hope he will become an award-winning athlete or that she will become president. But no one really knows exactly what the future holds or even what kind of characteristics this baby will have when he grows up. The birth of Jesus was different because God had told us many things about this baby long before His birth.

Isaiah, writing seven hundred years before the birth of Jesus, tells us that He would be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. The most important thing these names tell us about Jesus is that, even as a child and even before His birth, He was God. His birth as a child shows us He was human; these names show us He is also God.

He is our “Wonderful Counselor.” Only God is responsible for the wonder of creation and of miracles that only God can do. Jesus is able to guide us because He knows everything and is the source of wisdom itself. He is our “Mighty God.” He is one with God and has always existed and always will exist. John tells us “He was with God in the beginning” (John 1:2). He is “Everlasting Father.” He not only cares about us, but He has the power to protect us and meet our needs. And He is the “Prince of Peace.” He overcomes sin, the source of all conflict. Once we have turned our lives over to Jesus we can know inner peace no matter what external circumstances we may experience.

Never before or since has there been such a child—a child who is both God and man. No wonder we have reason to celebrate! Rejoice in His birth today.

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head;
The stars in the sky looked down where He lay,
The little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the poor Baby wakes,
But little Lord Jesus no crying He makes,
I love Thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky,
And stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care,
And take us to heaven, to live with Thee there.

Martin Luther (1483-1546)

Thank God that because of the birth of His Son we have a Wonderful Counselor, a Mighty God, an Everlasting Father and a Prince of Peace.

Ask God to help us proclaim the fact that a Child has been born—a Child who is both God and Man.

Joy fills our inmost hearts to-day! The royal Child is born;
And angel hosts in glad array His advent keep this morn.
Rejoice, rejoice! the incarnate Word has come on earth to dwell;
No sweeter sound than this is heard, Emmanuel.
For us the world must lose its charms before the manger shrine,
When, folded in thy mother’s arms, we see thee, Babe divine.
Thou Light of uncreated Light, shine on us, holy Child;
That we may keep thy birthday bright, with service undefiled.

William C. Dix (1837-1898)


24th MESSIANIC SYMBOL for the Advent Season: Lamb

December 23, 2009

DECEMBER 24:  Isaiah 53:7

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth (NIV)

Many nativity sets include figures of lambs because the first people to hear the news of Jesus’ birth and come to visit Him were shepherds. Perhaps some of the shepherds had lambs with them. When the shepherds visited baby Jesus neither they nor Mary and Joseph understood that Jesus was to be God’s lamb. Mary did know that God wanted her to name His son Jesus, which means “the Lord saves.” Joseph and the shepherds also knew that Jesus was to be a savior because the angel had told them. None of the people at Jesus’ birth understood that in order to be a savior Jesus had to die. But when John the Baptist saw Jesus coming, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

Before Jesus came to this earth the only way sins could be forgiven was to offer an animal sacrifice to God. Lambs were often used for these sacrifices. Offering a sacrifice did not mean that all a person’s sins were forgiven. Each time a person sinned they would have to offer a new sacrifice. In God’s better plan He sent His Son into the world to be a sacrifice for sin. “We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10). Jesus’ sacrifice is sufficient to cover all the sins of everyone who would believe in Jesus—“the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sin of the whole world” (John 2:2). To be that sacrifice Jesus had to die.

Isaiah tells us that God’s lamb would not say anything as He was killed. When Jesus was put on trial, He did not defend himself or beg not to be sacrificed. He quietly and willingly died in order to forgive our sins and give us life.

Years after Jesus died, rose again, and returned to heaven, Jesus’ disciple John had a vision of heaven with Jesus as God’s lamb. He saw angels singing praise to Jesus: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise! (Revelation 5:12) He also saw people from all over the world singing: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever! . . . Amen” (Revelation 5:13).

Worthy is the Lamb
Seated on the throne
Crown You now with many crowns
You reign victorious

High and lifted up
Jesus Son of God
The Darling of Heaven crucified
Worthy is the Lamb

Darlene Zschech (b. 1955)

Thank God that He sent His Son as a lamb that was sacrificed and died so that our sins could be forgiven.

Ask God that we would share the joyful story of Jesus’ death for everyone’s sins.

Paschal Lamb, by God appointed,
All our sins on Thee were laid;
By almighty love appointed,
Thou hast full atonement made.
Every sin may be forgiven,
Through the virtue of Thy blood;
Opened is the gate of heaven;
Peace is made ‘twixt man and God.

John Bakewell (1721-1819)

23rd MESSIANIC SYMBOL for the Advent Season: Shepherd’s Staff

December 22, 2009

DECEMBER 23:  Isaiah 40:11

He tends his flock like a Shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; He gently leads those that have young (NIV)

Sheep were very important to the people where Jesus lived. They were used for food and for sacrifices to worship God at the temple. Their wool made blankets and clothing for the Jewish people. Jesus would have talked to many shepherds, and He would have observed how sheep acted. He knew that sheep are not very good at taking care of themselves. They need a shepherd to help them find food and water and to protect them from wild animals and other dangers. Good shepherds cared for their sheep, even putting their own lives in danger to protect them.

Jesus described Himself as the good shepherd. He said: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). We are the sheep that Jesus loves. He died for us, and He loves and cares for each one of us. He guides us in following God’s paths.

We use a shepherd’s staff to represent a shepherd. Shepherds carry the staff to help them catch any sheep that fall. If a lamb falls off a steep cliff, the shepherd can pull it back to safety. David, the shepherd boy who became the most famous king of Israel, wrote a song about God as his shepherd (Psalm 23). In the song, he said “your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” The shepherd’s staff symbolizes the comfort we can take in knowing that Jesus is our shepherd, protecting us from danger.

Isaiah 40:11 describes a loving, caring shepherd, one who holds the little lambs close to his heart. We are those lambs. Jesus as the shepherd emphasizes the significance of the shepherds visiting the baby Jesus shortly after His birth.

While shepherds watched their flocks by night,
All seated on the ground,
The angel of the Lord came down,
And glory shone around.
“Fear not!” said he; for mighty dread
Had seized their troubled mind,
“Glad tidings of great joy I bring
To you and all mankind.
“To you, in David’s town this day,
Is born of David’s line,
The Savior who is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be the sign:
“The heavn’ly Babe you there shall find
To human view displayed,
All meanly wrapped in wathing bands,
And in a manger laid.
“All glory be to God on high,
And to the earth be peace:
Good will henceforth from heav’n to men,
Begin and never cease.”

Nahum Tate (1625-1715)

Thank God for Jesus our Good Shepherd and for the gentle, loving care Jesus provides.

Ask God to use you to faithfully proclaim His kingdom which He, through Jesus, has established to shepherd His people.

Ever be near our side,
Our shepherd and our guide,
Our staff and song;
Jesus, Thou Christ of God,
By Thy enduring Word
Lead us where Thou hast trod,
Make our faith strong.

Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-c.215)

22nd MESSIANIC SYMBOL for the Advent Season: Rose

December 21, 2009

December 22: Isaiah 35:1,2a

The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, even with joy and singing (NKJV)

We know that when God created the world, it was “very good.” We can only imagine the beauty Adam and Eve must have enjoyed in their lovely garden. All of creation was in perfect balance and worked together in a way that showed the beauty and glory of its creator. But when Adam and Eve sinned, not only did they bring suffering into their lives, they brought suffering to all creation as well. “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Romans 8:22).

Creation once expressed God’s glory much more fully than it now does under its present limitations. When the Pharisees told Jesus to tell his disciples to stop praising Him on the day He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, Jesus said, “If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out” (Luke 19:40). Isaiah 35:1-2 tells about a time when creation will again have the freedom to express joy at God’s glory.

The desert is not a part of creation that we think of as a symbol of joy. The dryness and harsh climate of a desert make us think instead of scarcity and need and sadness. But we can easily imagine a flower as a symbol of joy. We often use flowers to celebrate happy occasions. Isaiah tells us that the desert will blossom into flowers through happiness. The harsh desert setting will become a place of joy. We don’t know exactly what kind of flower is described here. Some other translations use the word “crocus” instead of “rose.” However the dry, empty desert will suddenly communicate joyfulness by bursting into bloom.

The rest of this chapter in Isaiah tells about different kinds of healing that will happen at the same time, such as the eyes of the blind being opened and the lame leaping “like a deer.” During Jesus’ time on earth, He performed many miracles like this. But the chapter is mostly about what will happen when Jesus returns, but the joy of Jesus’ coming began at His birth. Sometimes we feel so stressed at all the things we try to do at this time of year, that we lose our joy. Let the symbol of the rose help to remind you that this is a season of joy.

Joy to the world! The Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing.

Joy to the earth! The Savior reigns;
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground.
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found.

He rules the earth with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love.

Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

Thank God for sending Jesus Christ to bring His joy. Thank God for the beauty of His creation and that one day His creation will be restored to its original spectacular beauty.

Ask God to make you a joyful subject of King Jesus during this stress-filled Christmas season.

Loving God, we give thanks for the birth of your son Jesus Christ, both in human form in Bethlehem and in spiritual form in our hearts. May he reign as king within every human heart, so that every town and village can live according to his joyful law of love.

Thomas Münzer (1490-1525)

21st MESSIANIC SYMBOL for the Advent Season: Horn

December 20, 2009

DECEMBER 21: Ezekiel 29:21

On that day I will make a horn grow for the house of Israel, and I will open your mouth among them. Then they will know that I am the Lord (NIV)

For us “horn” means what grows out of the head of some animals, or a musical instrument like a trumpet. Often pictures of angels show them blowing long trumpets to announce the coming of Jesus. Little toy horns are sometimes included on old-fashioned Christmas cards.

The people of Israel would have thought of the horn of a ram when they heard Ezekiel’s prophecy. Ram’s horns had many uses in Bible times. Sometimes a ram’s horn would be made into a musical instrument called a shofar. The shofar was blown as a signal for the beginning of a special festival or for the call to battle. Ram’s horns were also used as containers for carrying liquids. Sometimes the liquid was oil used for anointing a king. The prophet Samuel anointed David with oil to show that God had chosen him to be king of Israel.

The people of Israel thought of a horn as a symbol of strength. Several times in the Old Testament, God was referred to as a “horn of salvation.” And in the New Testament, Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, talked about Jesus as “a horn of salvation for us” (Luke 1:69).

This shows us two things God promised about Jesus. First, that He would come as our savior, and second, that He would have strength. Jesus had to be strong enough to overcome death in order to give us salvation.

Almost everyone knows the song “Jesus Loves Me.” We usually sing it to remind ourselves of His love, but it also reminds us of His strength when we sing the lines, “Little ones to Him belong; they are weak, but He is strong.” Jesus knows that we often lack the strength to face the hard parts of daily life, but He has promised to give us His strength. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” When we understand that we are weak, then the power of Jesus can work in our lives.

As you read Ezekiel 29:21, remember God’s promises to give you His strength.

Jesus loves me, this I know
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong
They are weak, but He is strong!

Anna B. Warner (1820-1915)

Thank God for sending His Son, Jesus, into this world; and for giving Him power to save.  Thank God for the salvation that Jesus has given to you.

Ask God to fill you with His power and strength for your daily life.

I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised.

Psalm 18:1-3a (ESV)

20th MESSIANIC SYMBOL for the Advent Season: Snow

December 19, 2009

December 20:  Isaiah 1:18

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” (NIV)

We often use snowflakes in our Christmas decorations. In the Northern Hemisphere Christmas comes during the coldest part of the year, so we think about Christmas and winter together. We sing songs about a “white Christmas,” and hope that we will have snow on Christmas day. But Isaiah gives us another reason why the snowflake is a good symbol for Christmas—it reminds us of what Jesus did for us. He died to remove our sins and make us pure.

This verse uses two words for red: scarlet and crimson. Red is the color of blood and violence. Because red was considered a permanent color, one that would not wash out easily, it was thought of as the opposite of white. Even today bloodstains on clothing are hard to get out.

Isaiah says that even though our souls are stained red with sin, God promises to make them clean and white. The color white is a symbol of purity. Probably the whitest thing we ever see is new-fallen snow. It is so pure and bright that when the sunlight falls on it, the brightness of the snow can cause snow blindness. This kind of bright whiteness provides a picture of the holiness of God.

Isaiah promises that God will change our sin-stained hearts to be pure and holy. God does this through the forgiveness Jesus provides. We could never do anything ourselves to wash away the stain caused by our sin, but Jesus’ death on the cross has done that. Strangely, it is His blood, the very color that is associated with sin, that makes our hearts clean. “And the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (I John 1:7).

This year when you see snowflake Christmas decorations, remember God’s promise to give us pure hearts.

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured—
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.

Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin!

Dark is the stain that cannot hide–
What can avail to wash it away?
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide–
Whiter than snow you may be today.

Julia Harriette Johnston (1849-1919)

Thank God for sending His Son to shed His blood and die on the cross that you might be forgiven. Thank God for His forgiveness and cleansing.

Ask God to help you to stop doing wrong and learn to do right. Ask God to remove your sins and to purify your life.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

Adelaide Addison Pollard (1862-1934)

19th MESSIANIC SYMBOL for the Advent Season: Fountain

December 18, 2009

DECEMBER 19:  Zechariah 13:1

On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity (NIV)

Imagine that you’ve been hiking all day, enjoying glorious sunny weather. But you haven’t seen any water for hours. You’ve drunk all the water you carried with you, and your body and clothing are getting sticky and grimy from the dust on the trail. You’re hot and thirsty and dirty. Your enjoyment of the beauty around you has long faded from discomfort. Then you round a rocky corner, and there in front of you lies a shady glade through which flows a crystal-clear stream of icy-cold water. You plunge your face and hands into the stream, first drinking deeply, and then washing off the heat and grime of the trail. You feel cleansed, restored and renewed. This is the type of fountain pictured in this verse—a spring of fresh, life-giving water rather than the continuously recycled water of a cement or marble fountain designed by an architect.

Jewish people thought of a fountain as the source of life. In Psalm 36:9, David says to God, “For with you is the fountain of life.” Jesus is a fountain; only in Him do we have real life. Jesus told the Samaritan woman, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14).

Zechariah tells us that this fountain is for “sin and uncleanness.” Just as spring water can make our bodies clean, so Jesus can give us clean hearts. Isaiah (12:3) refers to the joy of drawing “water from the well of salvation.” God’s Son cleanses us from all our impurities.

Like a fountain, Jesus provides the most basic source of life. He also gives clean hearts to all who will ask Him.

There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains.

The dying thief rejoiced to see
That fountain in his day;
And there may I, though vile as he,
Wash all my sins away.

E’er since by faith I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be till I die.

William Cowper (1731-1800)

Thank God for providing you with the fountain of life, and for Jesus’ death on the cross to forgive your sins.

Ask God to cleanse the impurities from your life with His cleansing fountain and to refresh you with His water of life.

I beseech you, merciful God, to allow me to drink from the stream which flows from your fountain of life. May I taste the sweet beauty of its waters, which spring from the very depths of your truth. O Lord, you are that fountain from which I desire with all my heart to drink. Give me, Lord Jesus, this water, that it may quench the burning spiritual thirst within my soul, and purify me from all sin.

St Columbanus (543-615)

18th MESSIANIC SYMBOL for the Advent Season: Cross

December 17, 2009

DECEMBER 18: Isaiah 43:25

I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more (NIV)

At Christmas we do not often think about the cross—a symbol of death and the end of life. We prefer to think about the new life represented by Jesus as a baby. But the whole point of Jesus becoming one of us with a body like ours that would someday die, was for Him to give up His life in order to forgive our sins. The Bible tells us that every single one of us has sinned: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We may think that we are pretty good and have not done anything really bad. However, whenever we choose our way instead of God’s way, we sin. The good news is that God promised to “blot out” our sins. This verse says that God will not even remember that our sins were there!

When the people of Isaiah’s time heard these words, they did not know how God would forgive their sins. He had told them to take animals to the temple to sacrifice to ask God’s forgiveness for their sins. But just shedding an animal’s blood once was not enough. They had to keep returning with more animals. And though they did not understand it at the time, it was not really the blood of the animals that wiped away their sins. The animal blood was only a symbol of what Jesus would do to get rid of their sins in the future.

The Bible tells us that the penalty for sin is death. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Jesus came to earth to die on the cross to pay that penalty for us. The cross symbolizes forgiveness. If you have told Jesus that you are sorry for your sins and have asked Him to forgive you, the cross is a reminder of the forgiveness God has given you through His Son. It is a symbol that you have been made right with God.

The birth of Jesus is very good news. But His death on the cross is the reason He came. Christmas without the cross would be empty. The cross provides hope for both this life and the life to come.

What Child is this who, laid to rest
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

William Chatterton Dix (1837-1898)

Thank God for sending His Son to die on the cross so that your sins could be forgiven.

Ask God to continue to blot out your sins and to protect you from yielding to temptation and committing new sins.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, who for our redemption was born, and on the cross died the most shameful of deaths, do by your death and passion deliver us from all sins and penalties and by your holy Cross bring us, miserable sinners, to that place where you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end.

Pope Innocent III (1161-1216)

17th MESSIANIC SYMBOL for the Advent Season: Moon

December 16, 2009

December 17:  Psalm 89:35b-37

I will not lie to David. His offspring shall endure forever, his throne as long as the sun before me. Like the moon it shall be established forever, a faithful witness in the skies (ESV).

Yesterday we saw God’s promise that as long as the earth lasts, day and night would always keep on following each other—the sun would come up every day. That promise also includes the fact that night will come at the end of each day. Just as the sun is a symbol of daytime, the moon is a symbol of night. The Bible also uses the moon as a symbol of permanence, as something that lasts forever. Psalm 72:5 says, “He will endure as long as the sun, as long as the moon, through all generations.”

These verses talk about the permanence of King David’s throne. God promised King David that one of his descendants—his great-great-great- (as many greats as you want to add) grandchildren—would always be king. Today there is no king in the nation of Israel. But that does not mean that God has forgotten His promise. When Jesus came, He became the king that would last forever. All of the other kings of Israel died, but Jesus came back to life after He died and lives today. He will always be king over a new kingdom, a kingdom much bigger than just one country. One of Jesus’ disciples understood right away when he first met Jesus that He was the promised king. Nathaniel said, “You are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” (John 1:49) The disciples knew that Jesus would be king forever. Peter called Jesus’ kingdom “eternal” (2 Peter 1:11).

Just as the moon is a faithful witness in the sky, so God expects all who are in His kingdom, under His King Jesus, to witness what He has done in our lives. In His great love God wants to invite all people into His kingdom. And He has given us the task of inviting others into His kingdom. God wants us to be faithful witnesses to Himself.

The next time you see the moon, remember it as a sign that God keeps His promises, and that we are a part of Jesus’ eternal kingdom.

For the beauty of the earth,
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies:

Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.

For the beauty of each hour
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale, and tree and flower,
Sun and moon, and stars of light:

For Thyself, blest Gift Divine!
To our race so freely given;
For that great, great love of Thine,
Peace on earth, and joy in heaven:

Folliot Sanford Pierpoint (1835-1917)

Thank God for reminding us that Jesus is our eternal King and that He has made it possible for us to live in His kingdom.

Ask God to make us faithful subjects of His kingdom and to give us opportunities to invite others into His kingdom.

Soon as the evening shades prevail,
The moon takes up the wondrous tale,
And mighty to the listening earth
Repeats the story of her birth;
Whilst all the stars that round her burn,
And all the planets in their turn,
Confirm the tidings as they roll,
And spread the truth from pole to pole.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719)

16th MESSIANIC SYMBOL for the Advent Season: Sun

December 15, 2009

DECEMBER 16: Malachi 4:2a

But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings (NIV).

During winter in the northern hemisphere, the days are short and the nights are long. We look forward to the morning sunrise that chases away the darkness. Even if the day is cloudy so that we cannot actually see the sun, it still brings daylight. Every night when the sun goes down, we know that it will rise again the next day. That was a promise that God made to Noah after the flood: “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease” (Genesis 8:22).

Each sunrise reminds us that God faithfully keeps His promises. In this verse from Malachi the sunrise that brings light to the earth is Jesus, the Sun of righteousness. Jesus, the Son of God, is also the Sun of righteousness. In talking about Jesus, Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, said, “the rising sun will come to us from heaven” (Luke 1:78). Like the sun, Jesus brings light to a dark world.

Righteousness means doing the right thing. Jesus is the only person who ever did that. Because He lived a perfect life, He gives His righteousness to anyone who asks.

Jesus also brings healing, forgiving our sin he makes us spiritually healthy. He also has the power to heal our physical sicknesses. When He lived on this earth, He made many sick people well. Jesus still makes sick persons well today.

When spring comes, the sun will bring new life to flowers, grass, and trees. But we do not need to wait until spring (or any other time) to ask Jesus for the life He brings. Jesus will give His righteousness to anyone who asks Him to forgive their sins.

Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
Joyful, all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph in the skies;
With th’angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”

Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King;

Hail the heav’nly Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Ris’n with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die.
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.

Charles Wesley (1707-1788)

Thank God that Jesus, the Sun of righteousness, provides us with His righteousness and His life. Thank God that we can go to Jesus for healing.

Ask God to increase our righteousness so that we can reflect the brightness of Jesus’ righteousness to those around us.

Christ is Himself the joy of all,
The Sun that warms and lights us;
By His grace He doth impart
Eternal sunshine to the heart;
The night of sin is ended! Alleluia!

Martin Luther (1483-1546)