ADVENT – WAITING AND PREPARING FOR THE SAVIOUR

  • • Today is Advent Sunday
  • • In four weeks’ time Christmas will be over!
    • o But there is so much to do!
    • o Lights to be sorted out and repaired – or buy new ones
    • o Cards to be written and posted
    • o Presents to be bought, wrapped and sent in the shops or online
    • o Visits to be arranged and menus to be decided
    • o All in the middle of so much uncertainty
    • o What will Christmas be like this year?
    • • How was it that first Christmas? 
    • o Began with news of a government census – not very exciting
    • o We will be having one next year – Sunday 21 March (two weeks before Easter)
    • o Planning of a perilous journey in an unsettled land
    • o 100 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem
    • o Worse because of Mary’s pregnancy
    • o Was it a relief to get away from the gossip?
    • • Advent – a time of waiting and preparation
    • o Waiting for something – or someone – to arrive
    • o From the Latin ‘adventus’ – to come 
    • o Mary and Joseph may have not used the word – but they were certainly waiting for the arrival of the baby
    • o Apprehensive, frantic, worrying time – does that sound familiar?

SIGNS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

    • • The Rabbis and Jewish leaders were also waiting – waiting for the Messiah to come – especially now to an occupied country with Roman legions everywhere
    • • Imagine them pouring over the ancient Scriptures 
    • o Isaiah 7:14 – Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel.
    • o Zechariah 9:9 – Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. 
    • • Yet all but a few failed to see the promises being fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ
    • o Even most of the few were unsure 
    • o Can we as Christians join with one of the few who did understand?
    • o Simeon who went into the temple and there was the baby Jesus
    • o Luke 2:30-32 – ‘For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.’ 
    • • But what do we make of the words we have read from Isaiah?
    • o Isaiah 2:2-4 – In the last days the mountain of the LORD’S temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.  Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. 
    • • What do we make of it today?
    • o Go to Temple Mount in Jerusalem and see that the temple is the site of a mosque
    • o Who in the international scene speaks of Israel’s God?
    • o Who says that the Lord’s teaching comes from Jerusalem?
    • o All are perplexed by verse 4 in a warring world – increase of arms budget by the UK government
    • • We only see these promises fulfilled in the return of Jesus – as King

THE COMING KING

    • • The Jews were looking for the coming King
    • • But they failed to realise that he had to deal with sin – and death – and Satan
    • • Are we in danger of making so much of his first coming that we lose sight of the certainty of his glorious return?
    • • We should be looking forward not just to Christmas but also to the return of Christ – and looking forward with excitement
    • • The new testament points so clearly to the return of the Lord Jesus Christ
    • o Acts 1:11 – ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.’
    • o At least 250 other clear references to Christ’s return in the scriptures
    • o Christ has died – Christ is risen – Christ will come again. Hallelujah!

REALITIES ABOUT CHRIST’S RETURN

        • • We don’t know when that will be – only the Father knows
        • Every eye will see Him
        • • Two visions we have in the scriptures
    • o Revelation 1:7 (John’s vision on Patmos)‘Look, he is coming with the clouds,’ and ‘every eye will see him, even those who pierced him’; and all peoples on earth ‘will mourn because of him.’ So shall it be! Amen.
    • o Mark 13: 26-27 (Teaching of Jesus at the Temple in Jerusalem) – ‘At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.
    • Every knee will bow before Him
    • • From an ancient hymn recorded in scripture
    • o Philippians 2:10-11– At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
    • o Will you gladly bow before Him and confess that He is Lord? 
    • Every believer will be with Him
    • o Romans 8:1 – Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
    • o Romans 8:38-39 – For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, [39] neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    • o No condemnation and no separation for the believer – Are you a believer?

CERTAINTIES

    • • Benjamin Franklin – Two things are certain in this world – death and taxes.
    • • Another certainty – Christ will return
    • • Advent Sunday is our opportunity to confess our certainty that the Lord Jesus is coming back
    • • Stephen Hawking – less than a hundred years to save the human race
    • • Not sure what he meant and what he would make of the present global situation
    • • We will get through this pandemic – the human race will not be wiped lout by it but will need to face at some time the return of the Lord Jesus Christ 
    • Are you ready for Christmas? – Are you ready for Messiah?
    • Are you living your life as though the Lord will return during your lifetime and you want to be ready for it

I wish you a very happy Christmas and the Lord’s blessing for 2021 – but look beyond Christmas and remember that Christ will return

Peter Price