In the midst of personal tragedy and the American Civil War, poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned the words to a familiar Christmas carol, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” He wrote: “And in despair, I bowed my head / ‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said / For hate is strong, and mocks the song / Of peace on earth, goodwill to men.” But even in anguish, Longfellow expressed godly hope: “Then pealed the bells more loud and deep / God is not dead, nor doth He sleep / The wrong shall fail, the right prevail /With peace on earth, goodwill to men.”
Whatever your circumstances this Christmas season, we trust this study has met you with the truth and encouragement of God’s Word. The reign of Christ, both present and future, is the foundation of our faith and hope (v. 12). Paul makes it clear, by referencing the Old Testament, that God’s plan of redemption has always included the Gentiles. He quotes Isaiah 11:10, demonstrating that the “Root of Jesse” is Christ, from the line of David. Paul was eager to spread the good news of Christ to the Gentiles especially (see v. 16).
Before he continued, the apostle couldn’t help but pause for a word of praise and benediction (v. 13). Paul was overflowing with hope! Biblical hope isn’t something we must create within ourselves. It’s not mere optimism or positive feelings. Rather, hope is something that God fills us with—and He’s not stingy! “Overflow” can also be translated “abound,” and one translator even renders it “brim over.” Notice that God also fills us with joy and peace. That’s three of the four Advent themes in one verse!
>> One good way to conclude this study might be to review what God has taught you personally through it. Review your personal journal, study notes, or the selected Scripture passages. Write down your two or three biggest takeaways.
Father, thank you for the things you taught us in the year 2020. May your Word transform us and may your truth carry us in love and joy into the New Year.