Why Whoville Sings
By Hal Lindsey
As we wrap our gifts… a holocaust envelopes and permeates the city of Aleppo, Syria. As we brave the flying elbows of frantic, last-minute shoppers… the people of Germany mourn their dead and tend to their wounded following yet another radical Islamic truck attack in Europe. As we hang our tinsel and cook our feasts… Christmas markets across Europe are closed. As we prepare to celebrate… new geopolitical fault lines appear around the world, and Russia and Turkey grapple with the assassination of a major diplomat.
Yet, we’re right to rejoice. We ought to sing of “peace on earth” even though we don’t yet see it. We should celebrate, decorate, feast, give gifts and receive them — even in times like these. Especially in times like these.
Admittedly, most people celebrate out of tradition. But that begs the question. What could stand behind a tradition of such power that it can’t be stopped by war, famine, poverty, or natural disaster? Year after year, century after century, Christmas survives all these and more. In bad times or good, pain or ease, war or peace, the celebration continues.
In 1966, a new animated Christmas special came to television — “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” In the story, the Grinch, a being with a heart “two sizes too small,” hated everything about Christmas. Below his mountain lair, lay the town of Whoville. All the Whos of that town really loved Christmas. The Grinch said, “For fifty-three years I’ve put up with it now. I must stop Christmas from coming, but how?”
He decided to steal it. Disguised as Santa Claus, he stole the people of Whoville’s presents, tinsel, and “roast beast.” Then he took his spoils back up the mountain, and waited for the sounds of sadness.
But when Christmas morning dawned, he heard something else instead. “But this, this sound wasn’t sad. Why, this sound sounded glad. Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small, was singing, without any presents at all! He hadn’t stopped Christmas from coming. It came! Somehow or other, it came just the same.”
“It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” says, “With the woes of sin and strife, the world has suffered long.” But still we celebrate. Neither storms, wars, nor terror can stop it. That’s because Christmas is more than presents, tinsel, or roast beast. It’s even more than having loved ones near.
At this moment, soldiers stand guard at lonely outposts around the world. Followers of Christ on some parts of the planet have had yet another year of unthinkable persecution. Dear ones at home face words like cancer… divorce… and death.
People are hurting, but Christmas remains bright because we hold fast to the promise of Christ.
Part of that promise is yet future. In “Joy to the World,” we sing, “No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground. He comes to make his blessings flow, far as the curse is found.”
Today thorns still infest the ground. We still live in a world under a curse. But Jesus gave His word that He would return. The miraculous fulfilling of promises at His first coming, prove His credentials — that He was and is the long-expected Messiah. So, when He said, “I will come again,” (John 14:3) we can trust Him.
We can say with assurance, “The government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.” (Isaiah 9:6-7 KJV)
And we can trust something else, also — something already on the books. He gives us peace now. He reconciles us to Himself now. In Him, our redemption is complete. Colossians 1:13-14 says, “For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (NASB)
“Have redemption.” That’s present tense. We have it right now. It became available to us as soon as the price was paid.
John 19:30 describes the triumph of Jesus on the cross. “He said, ‘It is finished!’ And He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit.” (NASB)
To some, that hardly sounds like “triumph,” but it is. The words, “It is finished” are the English translation of the Greek word, “tetelestai.” That is an accounting term meaning, “Paid in full!” Jesus wasn’t saying, “I am finished,” as in “I’m about dead.” He was saying that His redemptive work for humankind was complete. He took our sins on Himself and He paid for them “in full.”
Why do we sing at Christmas even when the world looks bleak? Because Jesus redeemed us. He finished the work of our salvation. “Silent Night” says it well. “God and sinners reconciled.”
And though the world itself remains dark, He has not finished with it. He promises to return. When George Frideric Handel wrote the “Hallelujah Chorus,” he used three scriptures from Revelation — 19:6, 19:16, and 11:15. “Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.… And He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, and LORD OF LORDS.… The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever.”