I remark every year that Thanksgiving is barely here before we are thinking and planning for Christmas. As well, every year I try to write weekly devotional pertaining to the observance of Advent. For me it is a help in slowing down the holiday rush, focusing on Jesus’ first coming and savoring the season. In this year’s Advent series I will use a different tradition than in previous years. Instead of Prophecy, Bethlehem, Angels, and Shepherds, I will write on the themes of Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace. I will also tie these Advent devotionals together with the theme of the Kingdom of God. May our hearts be established in hope as we walk together toward Christmas.
From the time that God intervened in the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve disobeyed, there has been a promise that God’s deliverer would come and defeat the powers, releasing God’s people to reign with him (the Messiah) on the earth. Isaiah and Micah prophesied strongly of Messiah being a ruler, king, and shepherd (Isaiah 9:6-7, Micah 5:2, 4). As the generations, dynasties, and centuries marched on, hope for Messiah in the hearts of Israel’s faithful continued to burn.
When Jesus was born, Israel was under the occupation of Rome. For a few hundred years prior, Israel was under other occupations as well, and there were many messianic contenders genuinely seeking Israel’s deliverance. None were ultimately successful. So when Jesus made messianic claims, people were understandably seeing this in terms of national and political deliverance. Jesus, though, saw it differently.
When Jesus began his rabbinic career, he started by preaching, “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15) Around this same time, Jesus entered a synagogue and affirmed how God’s kingdom will be established by quoting Isaiah 61:1-2. “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19) He saw the kingdom of God as a people of God. Messiah would establish a people for God by restoring people for God. These restored people would then collectively carry Messiah’s anointing to restore more people for God. As Israel’s true messiah, Jesus is ultimately successful. The hope of ages past is realized in Jesus.
Grace and peace,