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This being the Christmas season, we’ve been singing Christmas carols at church. And like all good contemporary churches, the words are put up on a screen at the front of the sanctuary. We don’t even have hymnals, so that isn’t an option. Occasionally there are typos on the screen, and I’ve come to accept that. After all, no one is perfect. There is one typo however, that comes up at Christmas time, that I’m sure the person typing thought was right. It is in the carol, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing! written by Charles Wesley in 1739. He wrote more than 6000 hymns in his lifetime, that were theologically sound and full of doctrine.

Interestingly, Charles Wesley didn’t take kindly to people changing the words of his hymns when they reprinted them. In one of his hymnals he wrote, “I beg leave to mention a thought which has been long upon my mind, and which I should long ago have inserted in the public papers, had I not been unwilling to stir up a nest of hornets. Many gentlemen have done my brother and me (though without naming us) the honour to reprint many of our hymns. Now they are perfectly welcome to do so, provided they reprint them just as they are. But I desire they would not attempt to mend them, for they are really not able. None of them is able to mend either the sense or the verse. Therefore, I must beg of them these two favours: either to let them stand just as they are, to take things for better or worse, or to add the true reading in the margin, or at the bottom of the page, that we many no longer be accountable either for the nonsense or the doggerel of other men.”

The verse I'm referring to goes like this:

Hail the heaven born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Risen 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.

Hark! The Herald Angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Did you figure out what word I’m talking about? Sun. I’m sure that many of you thought that it should read Son, didn’t you? You certainly wouldn’t be alone. If you were to Google this carol, you would find that Son beats out Sun by a ratio of about two to one on lyrics websites. Son seems to be the more logical choice, since we are talking about the birth of the Son of God. I’ve actually had a pastor tell me that Sun is a typo. But it isn’t!

The term Sun of Righteousness comes from Malachi 4:2. It is part of a divine revelation from God concerning the Day of Judgement. (Malachi 1:1, Malachi 3:16-18, Malachi 4:1) A time is coming when evil will be abolished, and all the arrogant evildoers, those who chose not to believe in God, will be burned to ashes. But for those who respect God, for those who have accepted His gift of love, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in His wings. It is figurative language, with a parallel between the controlled burning of the furnace and the Sun. The burning furnace that will consume the wicked will bring destruction, but the Sun of Righteousness will bring warmth and healing. Like the centre of our own solar system, the Sun brings light and life.

Perhaps in these days of tolerating everyone’s beliefs, it makes people uncomfortable to talk about what will happen to those who will not accept Christ. I agree that it isn’t very pleasant to think about, but that does not mean that it won’t happen. God is a holy God, and the time will come when He will no longer tolerate those who do not trust in Him. He has made His existence and power very clear, (Romans 1:18-24) and He has given us the choice, but we must not kid ourselves about what the consequences of our choices will be. This is why the herald angels sang, “Glory to the newborn King!”

Do you believe in miracles?  Do you think that Christ still performs miracles today?  In Matthew 8-9, we read the accounts of several of Christ’s miracles.  Matthew 9:23-26 tells us of the raising of the synagogue ruler’s daughter.

When Jesus arrived at the ruler’s house, there were already mourners wailing and lamenting.  It was customary to hire mourners for this purpose to help express the grief of the family.  The fact that they were already there meant that they had no doubt that the girl was dead.  When Jesus said that she was only sleeping, they mocked Him.  These people knew Christ, knew His character and had already witnessed other miracles He had done.  Surely, if He said that the child was asleep, they should consider it a possibility.  Yet, they were so certain of her death, they thought His statement was ridiculous.  Christ, however, had a different perspective on the matter.  He knew that He was going to wake the girl up.

Before performing this miracle, Christ sent all the mourners and onlookers away.  Only her parents, and a few disciples remained with Him to witness her resurrection.  This meant that believing that the girl was raised from death would become a matter of faith for everyone who did not witness it, and perhaps even for those who did.  Had she really been just sleeping?

I don’t know about you, but I like to have things explained and know the details of how things work.  In this case, like many others, Christ didn’t allow the details to all be known.  He left some things a mystery, and that is still often the case today.  Either we can’t understand the explanation, or there is some possible explanation other than a miracle from God.  Those who choose not to believe in God can find another way to rationalize what has happened, but those who do believe must often exercise their faith to do so.  Jesus said, “Blessed are the people who have not seen and yet have believed.”  (John 20:29)

Since Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8), we know that He can still perform miracles.  He is able to meet every need, but He cares more about your salvation than your comfort.  He wants you to rely on Him.  (Matthew 11:28)  Seek Him first, and He will take care of the rest.  (Matthew 6:33)