Advent Week 2

 

“There was a time when the earth and everyone on it ached for the promised Savior. He would be the fulfillment of every promise, the incarnation of the Almighty God, the kingdom of heaven walking on earth. Every human heart longed for His arrival – His advent – whether or not they knew it by name. Even now, every heart aches for His return, for the Son of God to appear and make all things new.” – Amanda Williams 

LIZZY VICK, HOPE OF ISRAEL

Let’s talk about ancient Israel.  

Exiled from the land promised to them because they sought fulfilment and security in the wrong places. They were banished from their homeland, enslaved and oppressed by the new government they had come under, weary and unsettled.  

Imagine someone appearing on this scene, amid oppression, and announcing a new promise, that a Savior would come and restore them. That a Messiah, the anointed one, the descendant of David would come and set all things to right again, and the government would be on His shoulders and He would rule with peace and justice forever.  

Would you believe it? Could you find a way to hope for that promise to be fulfilled? How did they keep the hope? 

I think it was through remembering and reminding. It was through often remembering the Word of the Lord. By remembering regularly that the same God who split the sea and led Israel out of slavery in Egypt, would do it again. It was through father reminding son, mother reminding daughter, prophet reminding a people. The Way Maker was making a way.  

A people enslaved, oppressed, kicked out of their country and slighted by injustices being heralded with news that a perfect King was coming to establish His Kingdom and everlasting reign and catch this: they were made for this kingdom.  

Oh, how they must have longed for this King. How they must have longed for a Messiah. And how they longed for hundreds of years before the prophecies would be fulfilled and a babe would be born in Bethlehem, the Savior of the world. They waited and hoped and remembered because they knew, deep in their bones, that they were made for a better Kingdom and this Kingdom was coming.  

I can hardly fathom this as I think about how impatient I get after waiting for something a few months much less hundreds of years, generation after generation. 

We too are awaiting the fulfillment of God’s promises. Let me tell you, there is hope in the waiting. For we also are made for a better Kingdom. The King has come, He reigns and He’s coming back. 

Reflection Reading:

Luke 2:25-32 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”
Matthew 2:1-12
The Magi Visit the Messiah
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’ (Micah 5:2,4)
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

Tertullian held the belief that Psalm 72 and Isaiah 60 were fulfilled upon the Magi’s visit.

 

CHARITY, THE FINAL HOPE

Psalm 72:10-11  

May the kings of Tarshish and of distant shores 

bring tribute to him. 

May the kings of Sheba and Seba 

present him gifts. 

May all kings bow down to him 

and all nations serve him. 

 

The Magi were most likely astrological advisors and kings from Persia (modern day Iran). They were the top in their field, well studied and experts in science and astrology.   Diligent in their hope to find the babe-King they surveyed the rebuilt and restored Jerusalem and took their knowledge to King Herod.  They disturbed all of Jerusalem.  Wonder with me if Simeon in Jerusalem gave the news?  I’m sure there was talk, to whom we do not know.  But tell of Jesus, tell of hope fulfilled, yes he would!  

Yes, I held him.  In these weathered hands I held the hope of the kingdom and he lives in Bethlehem.

As men of influence and power these kings worshiped and welcomed the new reign to come.  Their gifts and humility foretold in the year of Isaiah. The word of the prophet, kings coming to thy light, fulfilled.

You may have seen the movie Inception there is a dream within a dream within a dream.  In a similar way in the prophecy’s fulfillment lay another prophecy.  The gifts given are recored to be remembered.  It surprises me with so little we know about the wise men from the east that we know of their gifts.  They must hold significance.

You may have heard of the symbolism of these gifts but let’s recall again.  Gold because Christ is King, Frankincense because Christ is our Priest, and Myrrh because Christ would face death.

Christ, the Lamb of God offers his own blood by way of his death (myrrh) in his priestly role (frankincense) and hangs upon the cross with a sign King of the Jews (gold).

Read closely the record.  Jesus secured the final hope of all the world, the abolishment of death and death’s power.  However, first he had to battle it.

John 10:18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.  I have the authority to lay it down and the authority to take it up again.  This command I received from my Father.  

Jesus has the authority and the power.  And this King will see death destroyed.   His enemies are to be put under him during his reign.  This advent season know HE reigns now having conquered death.

 1 Corinthians 15:25-27 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he “has put everything under his feet.”

Adore him this advent.  Adore and remember our resurrected King and Priest who promises to wipe away all tears from our eyes.  He who subdues disease, famine, and stops the sorrow from earthquakes and war.  He who makes his people new and the land they live upon new.  
LIZZY’S 2ND PART

The season of Advent is certainly one of looking back and remembering Jesus’ coming and how that changed the course of history. It is certainly a time of remembering how Jesus’ coming effects our lives today and what it means for us as a people. But it is also, without a doubt, a season to look forward and to remind each other, with great hope and expectation, of the return of our Savior who will set all things to right once and for all.  

We remember and we remind.  

So, too, in the Lord’s Supper.  

For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 1 Corinthians 11:26 

As we celebrate the Lord coming in all authority, He provides a way for us to celebrate in sweet intimacy by partaking in the bread and cup of communion. We reflect on all He’s done, we repent and confess our sins, thanking him for the forgiveness available now, and we do this while we look forward announcing this good news “until he comes.”  

In this season of gifts, Jesus gives us the gift of communion to remember him and remind each other to keep hoping. 

And, as the Magi gave Jesus gifts, Jesus gives us yet another gift.  

The gifts the Magi gave Jesus announced the trajectory of his life: King, Priest, Sacrificial Lamb of God.  In a similar way, Jesus gives us the gift of His Holy Spirit who announces the trajectory of our lives. He gives us the Holy Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come: full restoration in a new heaven and a new earth, citizens of heaven, where God’s dwelling place will finally be with man.  

As Israel longed, the Spirit within us also longs for this coming reality. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12 

Take heart, have hope, be of good cheer, for Jesus is coming back and He will make all things new.  

Application

Listen: what part, concept, or segment stands out?

Do THIS: Light the candle of hope and set the table to take communion together around the candlelight.

If you want further reading on the Magi please check out the article in Christianity Today.

https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/2016/december/magi-wise-men-or-kings-its-complicated.html

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