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What Is Advent? Hope, Waiting, Joy, And Love

 What Is Advent? Hope, Waiting, Joy, And Love

Advent celebrates the 4 weeks of waiting before Christmas Day. The Bible shows us we were waiting long before that first Christmas came.

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What Is Advent? Hope, Waiting, Joy, and Love:

Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. – Jesus in Matthew 25:13

I discovered Advent in 1977 at St. John’s Protestant Episcopal Church in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Brought up in Emmanuel Pentecostal Church, I had given my heart to Jesus as a boy and loved and honored Him all my life, but in a Pentecostal Way.

We celebrated Christmas with pageants and programs, Christmas caroling, and decorated the Church’s huge Christmas tree with unique bulbs with our names on them. We rejoiced and loved to sing the many hymns honoring the Lord Jesus’ birth.

Advent 1977

What I experienced at St. John’s was all new and wonderful. It was exciting, even thrilling, but not in a Pentecostal way. I still remember waiting in silence as the pipe organ played. Then the vestry door opened, and the beautifully robed choir came in singing:

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

This was a different kind of rejoicing for me, a solemn one that sang:

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

We all sang along, carried into the beauty and mystery of the worship:

Our rector, the Reverend Mr. David Rhinelander King then led us in this prayer:

ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.

This call to repentance, putting on the armor of light, and living a holy life, was a blessing of Advent that I had never known! What a blessing to me then and ever since!

He then went on to lead the lighting of the candles and explained their meaning and history.

Advent and the Bible

The 4 Advent candles stand for Hope, Waiting, Joy, and Love. They are gathered around a 5th candle, the Christ candle. This reminds us Jesus is central and supreme in all. We light one candle for each week in the Advent season.

The beginning of Advent also marks the beginning of the Christian year and the cycle of Bible reading for every day of the year. Since I discovered this, I have followed those readings over many years, sometimes making it my daily guide for devotional reading.

Unlike other annual reading schedules, this one is linked to the church calendar so that the readings illuminate the lessons taught for that time.

The 4 short readings for each day are linked to one another as well as to the lesson for the day. They harmonize with one another and bring a depth of understanding and blessing that is holy and centered.

Advent opens the door to the scriptures takes us through the cycle of Hope, Waiting, Joy, and Love in 4 weeks. The Bible takes us through that cycle in 4,070 years.

Advent hope: the first 4000 years

The LORD God gave the first hope of Jesus’ coming to Eve*(4004 BC -?) in the Garden of Eden: *means this person is in my book of short biographies, Spiritual Lives

I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Genesis 3:15

This was spoken as a warning to the serpent and as a hope for Eve. According to Bishop Ussher’s chronology, this took place in 4004 BC, exactly 4000 years before Jesus was born in 4 BC.

When Eve’s first son was born, she hoped that he would be the one to bruise the serpent’s head:

And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. Genesis 4:1

Cain* was a disappointment and hope was deferred.

1987 BC

Later in Genesis, the LORD made this promise to Abraham*(1996-1821 BC):

And God said, Sarah*(1986 – 1859 BC) thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. – Genesis 17:19

Isaac*(1896-1716 BC) was the child of the promise as was Jesus and as are we. God appeared to him twice. Yet the complete fulfillment of this hope was thousands of years in the future.

1451 BC

During the last year of Moses’ life, there were 2 important prophecies of hope, one mysterious and the other clarifying.

The first, mysterious one came through prophet-for-hire Balaam*(1592-1452 BC):

I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth. Numbers 24:17

Balaam* was not a good guy. He was working on a curse for the children of Israel when this weird vision occurred. Moses* knew what it meant, but Balaam* had no idea. It is clearer to us in hindsight.

His words must be understood as having reference to One whom he beheld with the eyes of his mind, not with his bodily sight. This is obvious from the words which follow. Balaam beholds in vision a Star and a Sceptre, not as having already appeared, but as about to appear in the future. – Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers

In his farewell address to the children of Israel Moses* said:

The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him, ye shall hearken; Deuteronomy 18:15

Here a prophet is promised that will arise from among them, but the children of Israel had no idea who this was.

It is primarily intended as a promise of Christ, and it is the clearest promise of him that is in all the law of Moses. It is expressly applied to our Lord Jesus as the Messiah promised (Act_3:22; Act_7:37), and the people had an eye to this promise when they said concerning him, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world (Joh_6:14); and it was his Spirit that spoke in all the other prophets, 1Pe_1:11. – Matthew Henry

1035 BC

Jesus was directly descended from King David*(1085-1015 BC) on both Joseph’s*(50 BC- 20 AD?) and Mary’s*(18?BC-43 AD) genealogy. He is called “Son of David” 16 times in the Gospels. David was aware that the Messiah would be his descendent and prophesied and wrote about Him in many of His 75 Psalms, beautifully in Psalm 23, “the LORD is my shepherd.“

He prophetically described in Psalm 2 the reign of the LORD’s anointed, his natural descendant and successor to the throne and kingdom that will never cease:

I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Psalm 2:7-8

Baptist pastor F.B. Meyer (1847- 1929) explains:

Before time began He was the only begotten Son of God. But His sonship was declared at His resurrection. The world is His, to be won by the Cross and intercession

Jesus Himself affirmed the truth of Psalm 2:7 in Matthew:

While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David.

He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying,

The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?

If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? – Matthew 22:41-45

750 BC

Isaiah gives the next important prophecy concerning Jesus’ birth:

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.- Isaiah 7:14

This prophecy was given to wicked King Ahaz and had short-term, natural and long-term, spiritual fulfillment. Ahaz rejected both, but this virgin birth has become a foundational fact of our faith.

And shall call his name Immanuel; which is, by interpretation, “God with us”, whence it appears that the Messiah is truly God, as well as truly man: the name is expressive of the union of the two natures, human and divine, in him; of his office as Mediator, who, being both God and man, is a middle person between both; of his converse with men on earth, and of his spiritual presence with his people. John Gill (1697-1771)

700 BC

Micah was a contemporary of Isaiah and gave this prophecy that helped the wise men locate Jesus:

“But you, Bethlehem, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” Micah 5:2 written 700 BC

600 BC

Jeremiah*(659? -588 BC) affirmed the Messiah’s descent from David and gave Him a unique name, the “righteous Branch.

“The days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.
In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land. Jeremiah 33:14-15 ca. 600 BC

500 BC

Zechariah picks Jeremiah’s prophecy and term.

Listen O High Priest Joshua and your associates seated before you, who are men symbolic of things to come: I am going to bring my servant the Branch. See the stone I have set in front of Joshua! … and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day. Zechariah 3:8-9 written 500 BC

All these prophecies were validated when Jesus came. But their hope was always deferred, and no timeline was given until the angel Gabriel visited Daniel in 540 BC and gave him the famous “seventy weeks” of years prophecy.

Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
Know therefore and understand,that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. Daniel 9:24-25

The timeline was that the Messiah would “be cut off” 490 years after the Temple was restored in 456 BC, and Jesus would be crucified around 30 AD, but no one knew when He would be born.

And so, God’s people continued to hope, but the words of prophecy ceased, and they went into waiting with no new teaching from scripture.

535- 5 BC

Advent waiting

During these 5 centuries the Jews struggled to maintain the Temple and their nation, while they were under constant attack, first from the Persians, then the Greeks, and finally the Romans.

God was working Providentially during these years to make the world safe for the Gospel, to keep the Jews zealous to protect the line of David, and the words of prophecy and law that Ezra had organized as what we know as the Old Testament.

God also provided a common language to everyone in the Mediterranean world. The stage was set.

When the New Testament begins, King Herod*(74-4BC) ruled in Jerusalem supported by Roman military might. But Herod and others were interested in when the Messiah would be born.

Advent Joy

5 BC- 30 AD

Matthew begins the story with a reference back to that mysterious star Balaam saw in 1491 BC. Wise men from the East understood that the extraordinarily bright star they saw heralded the birth of the Messiah:

When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. Matthew 2:10

Jesus brought joy into the world, the angel telling the shepherds at His birth:

Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

– Luke 2:10-11

No one has expressed this better than Isaac Watts in 1711:

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heav’n and nature sing,
And heav’n and nature sing,
And heav’n, and heav’n, and nature sing.

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

Jesus’ mission was to bring joy through the Gospel, and His Word brought boundless joy to those who received and to the disciples who shared it:

And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. – Luke 10:17

This joy He brang reached up into heaven:

Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. – Luke 15:10

Jesus intended us to experience His joy and explained why He taught what He did:

These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. – John 15:10

It seemed as if that joy were eclipsed by His crucifixion, but even through that terrible pain and death for our sins, Jesus could see joy:

who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:2

30 -70

Advent Love

That sacrifice for our sins was accomplished through love. We all know the verse:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. – John 3:16

Jesus is the embodiment of that love that made Him willingly go to the cross and He loves us deeply:

As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. – John 15:9

And commands us to love one another:

This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. – John 15:10

30 – 70 +++

Advent and the Holy Spirit

When Jesus ascended into heaven, He gave the baptism of the Holy Spirit to the 120 disciples He left behind. They were now equipped to obey His mission to go into all the world to preach the gospel.

The power of the Holy Spirit enabled them to teach all nations, and the fruit of the Spirit fills us and makes us like Him:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

Meekness, temperance:– St. Paul in Galatians 5:23-24

Elsewhere (1 Corinthians 13) Paul*(5-67) presents a psalm of praise to love, and reminds us of love’s importance and power

to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Ephesians 3:19

The just before New Testament ends, John*(7-100) reminds us:

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. – 1 John 4:7-8

This broad overview of the Bible’s 4070 years of Hope, Waiting, Joy, and Love is complete with the Book of Revelation. There Jesus alerts us:

Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book. – Revelation 22:7

Second Advent

2,000 years have gone by, and hundreds and hundreds of yearly Advents. But we continue to Hope, Wait, and live in Joy and Love.

All of those are grounded in His promise:

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. – John 14:1-3

How good to know that even now, Jesus is preparing a place for me, Praise God!

He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Revelation 22:20

Let’s join in that prayer and this song: listen to this song here as we wait for Him to come!

“Even So Come”
(with Passion)

All of creation
All of the earth
Make straight a highway
A path for the Lord
Jesus is coming soon

Call back the sinner
Wake up the saint
Let every nation
Shout of Your fame
Jesus is coming soon

Like a bride
Waiting for her groom
We’ll be a church
Ready for You
Every heart longing for our King
We sing
Even so come
Lord Jesus come
Even so come
Lord Jesus come

There will be justice
All will be new
Your name forever
Faithful and true
Jesus is coming soon

Like a bride
Waiting for her groom
We’ll be a church
Ready for You
Every heart longing for our King
We sing
Even so come
Lord Jesus come
Even so come
Lord Jesus come

So we wait
We wait for You
God we wait
You’re coming soon

So we wait
We wait for You
God we wait
You’re coming soon

Like a bride
Waiting for her groom
We’ll be a church
Ready for You
Every heart longing for our King
We sing

Like a bride
Waiting for her groom
We’ll be a church
Ready for You
Every heart longing for our King
We sing
Even so come
Lord Jesus come
Even so come
Lord Jesus come
Even so come
Lord Jesus come
Even so come
Lord Jesus come

Writer(s): Jason David Ingram, Jess Clayton Cates, Chris Tomlin

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