Christmas time usually brings feelings of joy and expectancy. Jesus’ birth assures us of a hope we can embrace. We have the remarkable blessing of being able to hold a Bible in our hands and flip a single page that separates the Old Testament from the New Testament. I wonder how often we forget the years of waiting in between. Somehow, a thread of hope fought through the darkness. A time when everything seemed bleak became the foundation for the miraculous birth of Christ.
His large, dark eyes gazed up at her face. She had never realized what it was like to love someone so fiercely until she held her firstborn son in her arms. They had decided to name him Melki - God is King. If her son lived past infancy, she would tell him the stories of their ancestors.
Melki grew older and true to her word, she told him many stories. The boy came to love the soft voice of his mother as she recounted their history.
“Ima, tell me about Micah again.”
“Melki, you already know this by heart,” she smiled, beginning anyways. “Micah lived in the town of Moresheth. God came to him, instructing him to speak to the people of Jerusalem about coming destruction.”
“What happened to Jerusalem?” Melki prompted.
“The Babylonians took over. After years of our people being in captivity, Cyrus finally let us return to rebuild Jerusalem. Micah had good news to tell the people of Israel as well. ‘O Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are but a small Judean village, yet you will be the birthplace of my King who is alive from everlasting ages past!’”
Melki’s voice joined hers as he repeated the familiar words. “The birthplace of my King,” he whispered in awe. “When will this King come, Ima?”
“We do not know,” she sighed sadly.
Melki grew up, married, and had sons of his own. Years drifted by and the vivid hope he had once carried with him of the coming King faded. He told the stories of Abraham, Issac, Jacob, and Judah Maccabee, but none of his children were interested. Then one day, Melki heard that his mother was sick and hastily, he went to visit her. Though her face was wrinkled and she had become thin and pale, her voice was the same. He sat on a cushion near her feet and sighed. “Ima,” he whispered, “would you tell me the story of Isaiah?”
“You know this story. I don’t need to tell you,” she spoke quietly.
“I fear I’ve forgotten. No longer do I have any hope, Ima. I’ve waited my whole life and do you see what it has come to?” he asked bitterly. “Nothing, nothing at all! I have been faithful my whole life and nothing has changed. The Messiah hasn’t come. No prophets have arisen. All that’s left is a dusty, old dream I used to be willing to believe in. How can I have hope that things will change when my whole life has been the same every day?”
“Melki, you talk like your great-grandfather. I remember sitting up at night listening to my relatives say the same things you just said. No new prophets. No visions or dreams.”
Melki turned his head away. “Then why do we have any hope? If I think about it, my great-great-grandchildren will probably still be living in Nazareth, tending to the fields, and going to synagogue every Shabbat waiting for the Messiah to come.”
“But what if they’re not, Melki?” her eyes shone brightly. “What if they aren’t still waiting for the Messiah because he has already come? The time is getting closer, my son. We don’t know when He is coming so we must be prepared every moment.”
“Ima, I want to believe you but two hundred years of silence from Jehovah is hard to understand.”
“It may seem like silence to us, but maybe on the other side of the curtain, Jehovah is preparing the next scene. When that curtain is split, a whole new chapter will begin.”
Melki remembered his mother’s words and a newly kindled hope flickered in his heart. The years passed by but he held on to the prophet’s message. Oh Bethlehem, though you are small among the tribes of Judah, you will be the birthplace of my coming King.
The day came when Melki became sick and he knew he was nearing the end. His son stood in the room, waiting for his father to bless him. “My son,” Melki whispered huskily, “Prepare for the coming Messiah.”
“Jehovah has been silent for hundreds of years, Father. My life will end without me ever seeing Him.”
“We do not know that.”
“Then what do I do in the meantime?”
“We wait expectantly. Jehovah is faithful. Remember this, my son.”
Melki died, but not without hope. He lived in anticipation of the coming King. And so it went that Melki was the father of Levi, who was the father of Matthat, who was the father of Eli, who was the father of Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ.