2 Kings once again is an account of depraved worship in Jerusalem, but it ends on an encouraging note. The wicked king Ahaz dies – but the new king will be his faithful son Hezekiah. How is it that he shows himself to be godly, after such a father? Perhaps his mother was a worthy woman – surely a lesson for today.

Ezekiel chapter 6 has another message of God’s anger against the godlessness of idol worship, “Thus will I spend my fury upon them. And you shall know that I am the LORD when their slain lie among their idols” (verses 12,13). A prophet today would bring the same message to our world.

By contrast, what a pleasure for uplifting meditation is in Luke 2 with its account of the birth of our Lord. We read the well-known account of “the angel of the Lord” appearing to the “shepherds out in the field”. Imagine you were one of the shepherds; “… behold I bring you good news of great joy for unto you is born … a saviour who is Christ (Messiah) the Lord” (verses 10,11). The angel is then joined by “a heavenly host” who sing words often sung at Christmas, but the English version of the words, although familiar is not accurate. The angels did not sing “peace on earth” but, as modern versions correctly translate the Greek, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased”.

May we be among those who experience this in our hearts, especially at times when there is “distress of nations in perplexity” and “people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world” (Luke 21:25,26). Faithful believers will have his encouragement echoing in their minds, “Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (verse 28). People are not yet fainting with fear, but when that time comes the Lord’s return will surely be near and he will be “among those with whom he is pleased”. May we all, by his mercy, be among all those who “raise their heads”, but, as the hymn expresses it, ‘we make the answer now’.