December 17: Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus
Come, Desire of Nations!
The first verse of Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus is both very broad and extremely personal. The verse resounds with national ramifications—“Born to set thy people free!,” and with personal repercussions—“From our fears and sins release us; let us find our rest in thee.” It expresses far-reaching consequences—“Israel’s strength and consolation, hope of all the earth thou art; dear Desire of ev’ry nation,” and intimate hope—“Joy of ev’ry longing heart.”
One of the most dramatic prophecies about the birth of Jesus is in Haggai 2:6-9, from which Charles Wesley’s phrase Desire of Nations comes:
“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”
When I think of God shaking the heavens and the nations, my first thought is not of a little baby. When I hear that God will fill his house with glory, I don’t picture a stable in tiny Bethlehem. When I think of the great riches God has, I may wonder why he would leave all of that behind. And my expectations of peace may be a conquering Messiah, not a Messiah on a cross.
Perhaps one of the most amazing things about the incarnation is this juxtaposition of Great and Small. The King of the universe humbled himself and became a vulnerable baby. The One who owns “the cattle on a thousand hills” slept in a manger. He who spoke life into existence came to die. God himself became man. And, as we sing in “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus,” Jesus’s birth is a game-changer for Israel, all the nations of the world—and for me.
Jesus is both the Desire of Nations, and the Joy of my Longing Heart.
For Reflection: Read John 1:1-14 and 3:16-21. What do these passages say about Jesus’s divine nature? How did Jesus humble himself? What does this say about God’s love for us? Reflect on Jesus as the joy of your longing heart.