They set the tables, they spread the rugs, they eat, they drink! (Isa. 21:5)
New Year’s Eve is not just a date on the calendar, but a way of looking back and looking forward. Janus, the two-faced deity of Rome, was considered a god of transition and repetition. Therefore, the Romans didn’t expect anything new, but a repetition of what had always taken place: The continued prosperity of their empire. What could possibly change? Nothing ever did, so the Romans reveled without worry and dealt with the consequences the next day.
Isaiah had a different mind-set. Yes, the people were getting ready for a big party, but the prophet told them to do something else: “Oil the shields! . . . Post a lookout.”
God was telling the revelers: Someone is coming, and you need to be ready. Watch from the wall and see whether anyone approaches. Jesus also warned his followers to “keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come” (Matt. 24:42). Coincidence? I don’t think so.
Keep the big picture in front of you. It’s easy to slip into a “Roman Empire” mind-set where time passes in circles, giving the appearance that nothing ever changes. But the Bible operates linearly. The wedding feast will finally arrive and the bride of Christ will be ready, because the lookouts were awake and sounded the alarm. Let’s not be distracted by that big ball dropping at midnight tonight.
Keep your eyes and mind focused on what’s really important in 2021.
Frank Robinson is a retired Wesleyan pastor with thirty-five years of service in the Pacific Southwest District. He lives in Cornville, Arizona with his wife, Thelma.
© 2020 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.