Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Come Adore, Day 4

Leslie Basham: Everybody knows how hard it can be to wait. Betsy Childs Howard is the author of a book called Seasons of Waiting. She realized that women throughout the Bible had to wait for a lot of different reasons.

Betsy Childs Howard: For years, Israel was waiting on the Messiah. Abraham and Sarah experienced barrenness. And the barrenness that they experienced that eventually ended in the birth of Isaac was a small picture of the barrenness that Israel experienced for years and years waiting on the promised Messiah. It looked like God was not keeping His promise . . . but yet, He did.

It’s interesting that the coming of Jesus was heralded by another barren woman, Elizabeth, conceiving a child in her old age. So we have this picture of barrenness and then barrenness ending with the coming of the Messiah.

As believers, we wait on Christ’s return. We don’t know if it will come in our lifetime or if it will be later on. But we’re supposed to watch and wait and prepare ourselves in the same way that a woman who wants to be married watches and prays and waits for that but she doesn’t know whether it’s going to come.

Leslie: That idea of waiting is central to the Christmas story. Our host, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, will show you why today on Revive Our Hearts for Thursday, December 1, 2016. She’s continuing in a series called “Come Adore: The Gospel in Carols.”

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Well, we all know what it’s like to expect something only to have to wait for it. Maybe you’re waiting to graduate from college, or maybe you’re expecting the birth of a baby and you’ve got six weeks left and you’re waiting, you’re longing.

Maybe you’re waiting for your husband to get home from a long trip. Somebody just told me their husband is hiking the Appalachian trail. He’s been gone six months. He’ll be gone for another several months. She’s expecting, longing, eager, waiting for her husband to get back home from that trip.

Maybe it’s waiting to pay off the mortgage on your house or waiting for an upcoming vacation to Europe or Hawaii. Maybe it's waiting for a tax refund from the IRS because you’ve got plans for that money or waiting for your husband to finish up a remodeling project in your house and you’re longing for this, eager for this.

Your children know what it is to wait for Christmas, to anticipate, to long. They’re excited about maybe getting off from school, about gifts, about celebration, about parties. There’s the expectation, the anticipation, but then that takes patient waiting. There’s no kind of anticipation or longing like that represented by this Advent season that we’re celebrating right now.

We’re in the first week of Advent, and we’re anticipating Christmas by talking about some Christmas carols. In fact, we’re looking at the gospel in some of our Christmas carols in a series we’re calling “Come Adore.”

The title of that series comes from a CD that I’ve recorded on the piano with other instruments that we added to make these just beautiful arrangements. Ten Christmas carols. We’re talking about several of those—their background, their biblical significance, and what they tell us about Christ and why He came and what they have to do with our lives.

We’re talking about those carols during this series, and we’d love to send you a copy of this piano CD. You’re listening to bits and pieces of it during this series, and it's something you will want to have playing in your home during the Christmas season.

We’ll be glad to send you a copy as our way of saying "thank you" when you make a donation of any amount to help with this year-end need we’re telling you about over these weeks. We have a matching challenge. We’re very excited about how God has provided for that. And when you say, “Yes, I want to be part of that. I want to give toward that need,” we’ll send you this week a copy of that Come Adore CD.

Now, today, we look at another carol, “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus.” A beloved carol that captures the anticipation of this season. It’s often sung at the beginning of advent as part of our preparation to celebrate the incarnation.

The lyrics to this hymn were written by Charles Wesley who wrote more than 6500 hymns. Can you imagine? I don’t know if I’ve sung that many hymns, and he wrote that many.

Do you remember what some of those hymns by Charles Wesley were? "And Can It Be," "O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing," "Jesus, Lover of My Soul," "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today."

Well, in 1744, Charles Wesley published a collection of eighteen poems and Christmas carols that he called Hymns for the Nativity of Our Lord. And of those nativity hymns, this one, “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” is the best known one, the one that has lasted over all these years.

The music to which we normally sing this Christmas carol is called Hyfrydol. That was the tune that was composed in approximately 1830 by nineteen-year-old Welshman named Rowland Pritchard. And the name of this tune means “good cheer.” Good cheer. I like that. It’s a tune that has been used with other well-known hymn lyrics as well.

Now, this hymn only has two stanzas but the lyrics are so rich. Virtually every phrase in this carol alludes to one or more Scripture verses, including many Old Testament prophecies of the coming of the Messiah, the Advent.

So, let me read the two stanzas, and then we’ll talk about some of the highlights.

Come, thou long expected Jesus,
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.

Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.

By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

Well, let’s just unpack that. “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus.” This is a prayer that expresses the longing that those Old Testament believers had for the arrival of the Savior. It taps into the sense of longing we have that Christ would come and visit us with His presence, with His beauty, with His wonder in this advent season and throughout the year.

Long expected. Just how long had this Jesus been expected? Well, you have to go back to Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve sinned. They were separated from God. Here they were hiding, cowering from God, behind a bush, in the garden, in shame. Ashamed of themselves before God and before each other. God comes and He seeks them out, and He finds them, and He promises that He will send a Savior—someone who will fix their sin problem.

And this promise is repeated to Abraham and to Jacob and to Isaac and to the prophets. Little by little the portrait gets filled in—more and more and more details over the course of hundreds of years. What will this Savior be like? What will He do? What will He look like?

The Old Testament Jews longed for God to fulfill His promise and send the Messiah. They waited, and they waited, and they waited, and they waited. Sometimes they got tired of waiting, and they forgot to wait. Then God would send a prophet and remind them again of His promise, and they would go back to waiting. They waited for thousands of years without seeing the fulfillment of that longing.

It’s so easy when we’re waiting for God to move, waiting for God to act, waiting for Him to fulfill His promises, it’s easy to get tired of waiting and to give up hope. But they kept on longing. They kept on expecting, because they believed that God was faithful, and He would fulfill His promises in His way and in His time.

Now this hymn, this carol answers two questions that are addressed in many of our loved Christmas carols. The first is: Who is this Jesus, this “long expected Jesus”? And the second question is: Why was He born? That’s a question you find addressed in many of our Christmas carols.

So first, who is this long-expected Jesus? Well, we’re told in this carol that He is “Israel’s strength and consolation.” This is again a concept you find referenced in the Old Testament prophets.

Joel 3 says, “The LORD will be a shelter for His people, and the strength of the children of Israel” (v. 16 NKJV). He’s the strength and the consolation of His people.

Then, you remember Simeon in the temple when the baby Jesus was brought there by His parents? Luke 2 it says that Simeon, he was now an old man, he was “waiting for the consolation of Israel” (v. 25). That word, “consolation” comes from a Greek word, paraklesis, "to come alongside and help." Someone who comes and comforts and helps. He consoles.

Here is a man who had waited and longed all his life to see the Messiah come. Now he rejoiced to see this infant who he knew was the strength and consolation of God’s people. The one who would console the hearts of God’s weary people.

But, this Jesus is not just Israel’s strength and consolation. This carol tells us that He is also the "hope of all the earth." Then it tells us that He is the “dear desire of every nation.”

He’s not just for the Jews—the strength and consolation of Israel—but He’s for all the people of the world: for Jews, Gentiles, Muslims, Buddhists, people who call themselves Christians and are religious but don’t know Jesus. He is the hope and the desire of all the world—all the world needs Jesus.

And He’s a gift from God not just for the Jews, not just for some religious people, not just for people who go to church, not just for people who think they need Jesus. He is God’s hope and fulfills the desire of all the nations and the peoples of the world.

We read this concept in Haggai 2 where God says, “I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations" (v. 7 NKJV). God shakes the nations so He can shake loose the things that are not eternal and are not holy and then He draws these people to come from every nation and tribe and kindred and tongue and language to come to the Desire—capital D—of all nations, says the Lord of hosts. These are concepts that are referred to in this great carol, “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus.”

And this Messiah is not just for the Jews, and He’s not just for the nations. But this hymn tells us He is also the “joy of every longing heart.” Not just the Jews. Not just the nations. But us. Those of us who long for Him—individuals.

He is our strength and our consolation. He is power for our weakness. He is comfort for our sorrow. Jesus is the fulfillment of the deepest longings, desires, hopes, and needs of every soul in the world, throughout all the ages.

This is a great description of the sufficiency, the all-sufficiency of Christ. Jesus is what the world needs, what the world longs for even if they don’t know it. He alone can save. He alone can fulfill the world’s longings, my longings, your longings for love, for security, for meaning, for relationships, for fellowship with God. He is the joy of every longing heart. He puts the longing there, and then He comes and fulfills it with Himself.

So, why was He born? Why did He come to earth? In this carol you’ll see the world “born” four times: He was born “so that;” He was born “to do this.” Why was He born? Well, the hymn tells us that He was “born to set His people free,” “born His people to deliver.”

He was born to deliver. He was born to proclaim liberty to the captives, as Jesus said of Himself in Luke 4. He said, “God has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives” (v. 18).

When those Old Testament Jews and the Jews in Jesus’ day, heard these kinds of prophecies and this kind of talk, they assumed that this would be deliverance from worldly, human kingdoms and oppressors.

In the days of Jesus, it would have been the Roman empire. So they thought, Yes, the Messiah is going to come. He’s going to wipe out those Romans and set us free from the Romans. But this carol tells us: “From our fears and sins release us.”

Not from the Romans, not from ISIS, not from liberal government, not from a certain political party or ungodly political leaders, not from my mate or this person in my workplace. But from our fears and sins release us.

Our sins are what enslave us. They cause us to be weighed down, burdened, and weary. And Jesus came, he was born to deliver us from our sins. Matthew 1:21: “You shall call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.”

He came not only to deliver us from our sins but also from our fears. Hebrews 2 says that He came "to deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery" (v. 15).

There’s no fear greater than the fear of death because death is the one thing that you can’t change. I mean, it comes to all. You may be able to avoid taxes or car wrecks or cancer, but everyone faces death, the greatest fear. And He came to deliver us from our fears.

This hymn says, “Let us find our rest in Thee.” The rest we need for our souls; the rest our world needs is found in Christ. It was Jesus Himself who said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt. 11:28).

So He was born to set His people free, to deliver us from our fears and our sins, to give us rest. But He was also born to reign and to rule. This carol says:

Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.

By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone.

This child whose birth we celebrate at Christmas is the King of the universe. And He came to reign and to rule forever in the hearts of His people. We owe Him our allegiance. And it says that His is a gracious kingdom. It’s a kingdom of grace.

He’s not a tyrant or a despot. He didn’t come to destroy us. He came to reign over us in grace. Where our hearts find a happy home is when we are happily submitted to His kingdom and reign and rule.

So in the first stanza, the emphasis is on His people, nations, and all the earth. But in the second stanza it gets more personal: reign in us; rule in our hearts. His rule does not oppress us. This hymn says it raises us up.

By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

And there we have a hint of the resurrection. 2 Corinthians 4 says, “Knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence” (v. 14).

In fact, the Scripture says that one day we will reign and rule with Him. But before that can happen, we need Him to reign and rule in us and over us. And then one day He will raise us up with Him to reign and rule with Him forever.

This prayer, this carol expresses the deep yearning and longing for Christ to come, to save us from our sins, to fulfill the deepest longings of our hearts, to reign and rule in our hearts, and to take us to be with Himself forever.

Now, this long-awaited, long-expected Jesus, this Savior did come. And the anticipations and longings of those Old Testament Jews were fulfilled when Jesus was born in Bethlehem.

So as we celebrate His first advent and His coming to earth during this season, we also anticipate and long and pray for His return. Those Old Testament Jews had a promise that Savior was coming. They waited, they longed, and they prayed for that to be fulfilled.

Now He has come, and we have another promise and that is that He is coming back. There will be a second advent. There will be a second return to this earth.

His promise in John 14 and many other places in the Scripture is: “I will come again and take you to myself” (v. 3). This long-expected Savior from heaven will come again. And the longings that we have now and here will be fulfilled in that day.

So what do we do with this? What does this carol written hundreds of years ago say to us as we sing it here in the twenty-first century? Well, let me give you three suggestions—ways to take this home for our own hearts.

Number one: Pray that the reasons for His first coming will be fulfilled. That people will be set free; they’ll be delivered from sin and from fear. Pray, “O Lord, Your kingdom come” in our world, in us, in me, in my heart.

Again, we can’t expect His kingdom to come in the world and among the nations until it first comes in us, His people. So we pray, “Rule in all our hearts alone. Rule in my heart alone. I have no other king, no other lord, no other savior.” These are things we pray in light of this carol.

And then number two, I think is a challenge to wait. To wait patiently, to wait expectantly, to wait with hope and with faith, even if others doubt and scoff as Peter said they would. People are going to say, “We don’t see any Jesus coming. What’s all this about? This is a foolish hope.”

The same way they must have scoffed and mocked Noah as he spent 120 years building a boat for some flood that was coming, when there had never even been rain on the earth? “What are you doing?” They were making fun of him. Well, they make fun of Christians today. But we’re called to wait in faith and in hope and to pray for His return.

We have His promise. Revelations 22: “He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon” (v. 20). And what is our response? “Amen. Let it be so. So it will be. Come, Lord Jesus!”

We wait in patience. We wait knowing that God keeps His Word. That His eternal promises will all be fulfilled. We wait knowing that Christ who came to earth and was born as a babe two thousand some years ago, will one day return again to reign and to rule as King over all the earth. So we wait not in despair, not hopelessly but full of hope.

Pray, wait and then number three: I think this carol and others like it is a call to live and to act as if God’s promises were true. Live and to act as if God’s promises were true no matter how long it takes for them to be fulfilled.

How are we supposed to live in this season of time between receiving God’s promise and the time when the promise is actually fulfilled? What are we supposed to do? Well, God’s Word says that in Noah’s day people were eating, drinking, being merry. They weren’t paying attention to the fact that judgment was coming and that there was a place being prepared to protect them, to save them—namely the ark.

That’s what people are doing today. They’re acting as if God had never made any promises, as if Jesus were not going to come back. They’re acting as if there would be no day of judgment. They’re acting as if there were no place they could run to be saved from God’s judgment.

So, how are we supposed to live? I think about an engagement ring that I was wearing last year—a promise that Robert Wolgemuth made that he would be my husband, that he would marry me. So I wore that engagement ring. I knew that we weren’t married yet but we were going to be.

In the meantime, what did I do? I got ready for the wedding. And I got ready, and I got ready. I didn’t forget about it. I thought about it all the time. I was preparing for it for months. I didn’t just go on with life as usual.

I was expecting this day to come. I was longing for it. I was preparing for it. I was living as if Robert Wolgemuth would fulfill his promise. And he did. Now, that promise has been fulfilled. We’re husband and wife. It’s a joyful season of my life.

But there’s joy in the waiting, too, knowing that God keeps His Word. God fulfills His promises. In the waiting time we live as those who were excited, eager, preparing for that day when He comes back to take us to be with Him forever.

Come, Thou long-expected Jesus. We pray it. We believe it. We expect it and we want to live in light of it. Amen.

Song:

From our fears and sins release us
Let us find our rest in thee.1

Leslie: What a great carol. Before hearing “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus,” we heard Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth give us some of the background to the song. I’ll remember how long the world was desperately waiting for Jesus the next time I sing it.

Nancy plays that song on her piano CD Come Adore*. We’d like to send you a copy of this CD. It will bring joy to your home this season and every Christmas.

We’ll send your copy when you support Revive Our Hearts with a donation of any size. Not only do you get the CD, but you’ll know you’re part of helping women to discover the beauty of the gospel. Here’s Nancy with an example.

Nancy: Yes, Leslie. The beauty of the gospel is seen when former enemies become sisters in Christ. That’s exactly what happened recently. We got a letter that told about two women who, though they knew each other, never greeted each other. In fact, they avoided crossing paths whenever they were at church.

But then they went through the Bible study produced by Revive Our Hearts called True Woman 101. The listener writing to us said,

The hearts of these two women were changed. They learned about sisterhood and are now friends.

And, oh, I didn’t mention that this happened in Uganda where groups of women have been going through the True Woman 101 study together.

There’s an incredible joy to watch the Lord take our small efforts and spread them, calling women to live out the beauty of the gospel around the globe. When you support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts, do you realize that your investment will lead to women in Uganda displaying the beauty of forgiveness?

Some friends of this ministry have seen these kinds of examples, and they are all in, so they have offered to double the donation of every listener between now and the end of the year up to a challenge amount of $600,000.

Now, in order to keep the ministry thriving in the year ahead, we’re asking the Lord to help us meet this challenge and even exceed it. Would you ask him how He’d want you to get involved? I’m so grateful for listeners who are praying and giving so we can continue calling women to live out the beauty of the gospel.

Leslie: When you call with your donation, make sure to ask for your copy of the CD Come Adore. It’s Nancy’s piano CD and our gift to you when you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts. Ask for it when you call 1–800–569–5959. You can also visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

To fully appreciate Christmas, you need to know about a story we read in Genesis. Nancy will explain why tomorrow. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

1 Chris Tomlin and featuring Christy Nockels. Glory in the Highest: Christmas Songs of Worship. "Come Thou Long Expected Jesus." SixStepRecords / Sparrow Records, 2009.

 

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

About the Speaker

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love …

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