Vol. 8-49 – 12-03-2023 – Advent—A Season of Hope
But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me! –Micah 7:7
Our season of hope begins. It is not that we cannot have hope except that we enter the Advent season. Advent reminds us of the story of hope, joy, love, peace, and hope still. That is where we are headed. Traditionally, Advent spans four Sundays leading to Christmas. I have always had a little issue with that. Once we deal with Advent Sunday which focuses on peace, why do we stop? Do we not know that there is much more to come? Jesus is coming again; our great hope is returning for us.
Micah 7:7 is not as clear as it should be in the ESV. The NASB more accurately translates the beginning part of the verse: But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord. Watch expectantly is the preferred translation.
It begs a question, doesn’t it? What were they waiting for? Or who are you waiting for?
The waiting was a people ready for God’s promise. Well, ready in the sense of what they wanted, and in what shape they designed in their minds. They were waiting for a King (to gain against the nation of Rome). Set them free. God promised. How long would they have to wait?
Advent simply means arrival, in this case, the Messiah. They had been waiting for hundreds and hundreds of years. They had in their minds what He might look like. How He would dress. How He would win over their enemy. They considered the Messiah a promise of God, so they waited not so patiently.
Jesus, the Messiah, would be the greatest gift the world would ever receive. Remember, someone else gets to define the true gift. Otherwise, it is simply the fulfillment of a demand, not a gift. When the Jews decided how God was to fulfill His promise, they forfeited any idea of the Messiah being a gift.
On a chaotic evening that was still to come, in a little town called Bethlehem (house of bread), a miracle would occur. Bethlehem was down the hill. There would be no room for this King of kings. Perhaps a cave, carved out by the wind and rain. Maybe a little doctoring over time. A place where animals would take shelter in the storms. A place where the Savior would be born who would take away the sin of the world. But we are getting a little ahead of ourselves.
Jesus will not arrive without a wait. We do not have to wait. We have already read the book. Discovered how He came and what He did after coming. We can read Micah and some of the other prophets. However, what we generally do is turn to Matthew or Luke. It is easier.
There was this great effort by God to be forthcoming regarding the hope we have in His promise of a Messiah. A hope. A sure hope. But it has been quiet. God stopped His prophecies for a time. Well, about 400 years. That happened between Malachi (the last OT book) and the birth of Christ.
Imagine, 400 years without a word from God—no voice, no prophet, nothing. Imagine the agony of waiting. How are you with patience? I’m not very good. Imagine that when you read the promises of God and then have to wait—then start struggling with your faith. I wonder what the questions were that flew back and forth between the opinionated Jews. One generation after another generation. Was God gone? Was He ever there? Is faith in Him a waste? Should we just do those idol things like our neighboring nations?
What is coming is a change in the scenery. We will see about that in the coming days.
God’s silence will be broken. In a messy little manger, Jesus will be born. God in human flesh. God incarnate. He, the King of kings, will come in human form, never ceasing to be the God He is. The Son of God (remember that in John 10, He declares that He and His Father are One), becomes the Son of Man. Emmanuel—God with us!
He is the fulfilled longing, the hope. Yet, He is not as they pictured. There are some that have a reaffirmation of their faith, but not in great numbers.
We are going to struggle. Out of a messy manger the One who comes is going to deal with our messy lives. This is a good place to be reminded that God always fulfills His promises.
Today, we fill the Season of Advent with shopping, dinners, parties, concerts, movies, and more. We really are a mess. The “holiday season” no longer acknowledges Christ. People are threatened with job loss if they utter “Celebrate the Reason for the Season, Christ!” People get depressed. Anxious. Grouchy. Cable news debates the political correctness of what we say. What our fancy lights portray. And those messages in our front lawns.
And the extra services at our churches.
In the coming days, we will look at Advent—”the Season of Peace.” Right now, the season that is in front of us is not peaceful. Many are left feeling frantic. Stressed. Alone. “Peace-less.”
It does not have to be this way. Advent speaks about our waiting and hoping in God. If we would but ask—God will give us the grace to slow down, slow the pace. He will help us remember His love, grace, and mercy. We should be expectant; God will lift our eyes toward Him. There is no wasting time with God when we wait upon the Lord.
How are we doing, you and I? How are you celebrating hope?
Jesus is a greater fulfillment of our hope than we were ready to acknowledge.