Advent is a season of remembering the events of Christmas past and getting ready for the time when Christ will come again. It is a time filled with anticipation, preparation, and expectation. It is also often marked by weekly themes, celebrated with the lighting of a different candle each Sunday, and so from now until Christmas we will be highlighting those same themes here. They are: Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy. And I say “we” because there will be some other contributors, such as GSM’s own Dave Good who will be writing tomorrow’s blog.
The dictionary defines hope /hōp/ as a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. In relation to Advent we are talking about both the hope that the Jews had that God would send them a Messiah and the hope that we have today that, because that same Messiah (Jesus) came to earth on that first Christmas, died for our sins on Good Friday, and rose from the dead on Easter, we can be saved and will join Christ when he comes again.
It is the kind of hope that the Israelites held onto generation after generation, even while wondering when it would happen, and it is the kind of hope that we hold onto today even though nearly 2,000 have passed since Jesus made the promise to return.
Isaiah spoke to this hope long before Christ when he shared in 9:2 that, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” (9:2 NIV)
A few verses later he would go on to paint a picture of what this hope, this light at the end of the tunnel, would look like. He says in vv. 6-7 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” (NIV)
The reason why this gave them hope was not because they thought it would happen immediately but because they fully believed in The One Who said that it would indeed happen. They trusted that God would fulfill this prophesy when He deemed that the time was right.
Unfortunately I think that many times today we read about God’s promises in Scripture but we want instant gratification so when something doesn’t happen the way we want at the time we want it we tend to get cynical and our hope starts to wane.
The reality though is that if God has promised it but it has not happened, it’s not that it won’t happen but that it just hasn’t happened yet. Like our Jewish forefathers we need to have patience and perseverance trusting in The Author of our hope Who says in Isaiah 55:9, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
The fact is that Christ came at just the right time, he died at just the right time (“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:6 NIV), and so we can trust that he will return at just the right time. Until then we walk in hope.