O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Photo by Max Beck on Unsplash
The Christmas season is here.  Many have the tradition of counting down the days until Christmas Day as part of their advent celebration.  Much of this season has become commercialized and shallow materialism, but I will never forget the wonder and beauty of the incarnation.  The first coming of Jesus was unlike anything anyone expected.  He came in the humblest means, born as a baby in a manger of all places.  Yet His second coming will be glorious, when Jesus returns to put an end to all suffering and shame.  I encourage you this season to reflect on the truths of Jesus’ birth, God with us, and marvel.

His coming is certainly marvelous.  Its worth singing praises about and many beautiful songs have been written for this season.  Over the next several weeks, I will reflect on a few of my favorite Christmas hymns and their message of praise. 

O Come, O Come Emmanuel is one of my favorite hymns.  I enjoy its melody, and the gospel message it proclaims.  This hymn is an advent hymn, singing of the coming of the Christ.  It was written by John Mason Neale in the 1800s and became part of the Church of England’s official hymnal in 1861.  It gained popularity from that point and is still sung often today. 

The message of O Come, O Come Emmanuel is focused on the person and power of the Messiah.  Each verse identifies the Messiah by name, and then describes the work of the Messiah.  Jesus is called Emmanuel in verse one, which means God with us.  In Isaiah 7:14 speaks of the virgin birth and that the Messiah would literally be born among us.  God graciously comes into the world He created to “ransom captive Israel.” 

Jesus is called Dayspring in verse two.  This is a reference to Luke 1:78 which says, Through the tender mercy of our God; Whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us,” (KJV).  Jesus is the light that has come to us, shining in the dark, that we might know the truth.  Jesus came to reveal the Father so that we may repent and be forgiven our sins.  In verse three, Jesus is called wisdom from on high.  He is the way, the truth, and the life.  His ways are greater than ours and are for our good. 

Finally, in verse four, the hymn refers to Jesus as the desire of nations. This title is referenced in Haggai 2:7 but is better interpreted in newer Bible translations.  Haggai is prophesying of the end days, but the desire of nations refers to literal wealth.  In fact, Jesus was clear in John 15 that the world hates Him and His followers.  He is certainly not the desire of nations.  The hymn writer continued to proclaim the final victory of Jesus when, “All peoples in are one in heart and mind.”  This unity and world peace can only come through faith and obedience to Jesus Christ. 

This Christmas season are you remembering what humility was necessary for God to leave heaven and live among us?  It is marvelous!  As we hear this song, or sing it even, let us remember who Jesus is and what He promises to do.   

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