Written by Pastor Daniel Fleischer / December 2015
The season of Advent is a time of waiting, watching, expectation, and anticipation. It is a season of preparation as children of God look forward to the return of the promised Lord.
From the moment of the Heavenly Father’s promise of Jesus’ birth (Genesis 3:15), the time of the Old Testament could be equated with what we call “Advent.”
To the time of Jesus’ birth, the patriarchs and prophets were watchers and waiters. Think of Simeon and Anna (Luke 2). They watched and waited for the fulfillment of the promised Messiah’s birth. This era of waiting ended, “When the fullness of time had come, [and] God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5). The Heavenly Father himself selected the time, and the place, as well as the participants through whom He fulfilled His promise to send the Savior Who would save sinners from eternal ruination. What a joyous time for such as Simeon and Anna! Simeon gave voice to the reality that there was more to come (Luke 2:29-32)! Anna joyfully spoke of it to those who looked for redemption (Luke 2:38).
As children of God we celebrate matters related to our faith and hope.
In the New Testament age, we celebrate Advent with an appreciation of the past, and an eager anticipation of the future.
We too are watchers. We are watching, not for His birth which is a historical reality. We are waiting, sometimes impatiently, for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ in judgment, a judgment which Christ believers do not fear. As children of God we watch because our Father has so commanded us, and because we yearn for the life of heaven which will be free of our own weaknesses as well as of the misery and evil associated with life on earth.
In the meantime we celebrate. But what makes our celebrations different from those in which the world engages? As children of God we celebrate matters related to our faith and hope. Each Christmas, ushered in with the Advent season, we celebrate the birth of our Savior, long promised and in God’s time sent into the world in Bethlehem. Every Easter we celebrate the Savior’s resurrection. This too is history.
Our present advent hope of Jesus’ return to usher His children into heaven is confirmed by past advent hopes fulfilled. At Christmas we celebrate the faithfulness of our Father in sending the Savior. At Easter we celebrate the faithfulness of the Father in confirming our salvation by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Our Christmas celebration would be incomplete without Easter, and our Easter joy would have been impossible without Christmas: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:6-9).
Peter wrote ” to the…elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father” whom he addressed as “pilgrims of the Dispersion…” This Advent season his words still resonate in the heart of the elect who, as pilgrims in this evil world, penitently wait for the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise. He said, “Surely I am coming quickly.” To that believing hearts reply, “Even so, come Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20)!