Advent Week One: Hope

Have you ever explored what Advent is all about?

The first Advent was noted around AD 380. It began during a time where Christians’ faith were greatly tested by people twisting Biblical truths to meet their own agenda and ideas; turning people away from the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. So, in an effort to remain focused on what was really true, Christians started a month long study intentionally exploring the Bible together, reminding themselves of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, along with anticipating His second arrival, “coming soon” (Revelation 22:20) and called it Advent.

Advent means the beginning/arrival of something. For Christians, this word refers to the coming of Christ. So, as you prepare for Christmas, looking forward to celebrating the arrival of Jesus as a baby over 2,000 years ago, let’s anticipate this along with the truth Jesus shares about His return again in the future as well. Focus your heart on Him this holiday season and allow your mind to be in awe with this great and mighty God, anchoring yourself to His truth when it’s needed most.

“8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

9 But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”

10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

14 So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.

15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” Genesis 3:8-15

This is when humanity became in desperate need for hope. Until that point, they had been in beautiful relationship with God, our Creator. Then sin created a deep and uncrossable cavern between man and God.

Thankfully, our Creator never abandoned or destroyed us. Instead, He set out on a mission to restore the relationship we severed with Him. Even in the very beginning of sin in this world, God gave Satan a firm and strong prophecy in which hope infiltrated the words for humanity – “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” Genesis 3:8-15

The Lord would one day crush our enemy’s (Satan) head, offering an end to the curse of sin and death. From the beginning, He instituted prophecies of a Saviour for us. An offspring from mankind who would crush the enemy and set us free.

Again, during Abraham’s time when another eternal covenant was made, He gave Abraham the offspring He had promised. Then, in Abraham’s grandson, He set a prophecy on Judah’s lineage which describes who the Saviour would be in a bit more detail.

“Judah, your brothers will praise you.
Your hand will be on the necks of your enemies;
your father’s sons will bow down to you.
Judah is a young lion—
my son, you return from the kill.
He crouches; he lies down like a lion
or a lioness—who dares to rouse him?
10 The scepter will not depart from Judah
or the staff from between his feet
until he whose right it is comes
and the obedience of the peoples belongs to him.
11 He ties his donkey to a vine,
and the colt of his donkey to the choice vine.
He washes his clothes in wine
and his robes in the blood of grapes.
12 His eyes are darker than wine,
and his teeth are whiter than milk. – Genesis 49:8-12

As the sin in man continued to become grossly evident, the Lord continued to remind mankind of the expected hope it could rely on as it awaited the Saviour. The prophet Micah gave detail as to where the Messiah would come from and confirmed it was from the same person mentioned from “ancient times”:

“Bethlehem Ephrathah,
you are small among the clans of Judah;
one will come from you
to be ruler over Israel for me.
His origin is from antiquity,
from ancient times.
Therefore, Israel will be abandoned until the time
when she who is in labor has given birth;
then the rest of the ruler’s brothers will return
to the people of Israel.
He will stand and shepherd them
in the strength of the Lord,
in the majestic name of the Lord his God.
They will live securely,
for then his greatness will extend
to the ends of the earth.” Micah 5:2-4

A time came when the enemy would seem to be the only one ruling. Hope waned as the silence carried on. Israel’s “labour pains” were 400 years of silence from the Lord. Though it says He abandoned them, none were left from His sight. He just grew quiet and His miraculous signs and wonders ceased. The groanings of the people were louder as the depravity of man and sin were extremely apparent. Desperation for a Saviour was their cry.

Though hope waned, it was never lost. There are times in your life when it feels like hope is all but lost. It feels like the Lord has gone quiet. No guidance for the future is given. Just the groaning of your grief is heard among the silence. And yet, there is always hope! Because the long-awaited Saviour did arrive.

From great silence sprung one miracle after another. Prophecies poured from people’s mouths. And, as Micah prophesied, a baby was born in Bethlehem from the line of Judah.

“Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David, to be registered along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. Then she gave birth to her firstborn son, and she wrapped him tightly in cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” Luke 2:4-7

Yes, hope brought faith and Life bursting forth from the womb of a virgin in little Bethlehem to fulfill the prophecies. The powerful Saviour had arrived to free people from the curse of sin and death. He would crush the enemy’s head and take back the authority which rightfully belonged to God. The deep cavern which separated God and man now had a bridge, allowing anyone who wanted a restored relationship with the Lord to cross over to His family, with the full assurance of salvation and adoption from their sin and death. No questions or prerequisite performance were needed. Just the choice to acknowledge their sins and choose the gift Jesus offered by His death and resurrection.

But your hope doesn’t end with a bloody cross and an empty tomb. Your hope can be expectantly placed on Jesus’ final return. One where He will issue the final judgements due to the enemy and his people. One where He will gather together all who chose to cross that bridge and share in a relationship with Him, to His glorious home He has been preparing for you.

This Jesus, your Saviour, now has the full authority over heaven and earth once again, and He’s calling out to you.

“Then I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me. When I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and among the lampstands was one like the Son of Man,4 dressed in a robe and with a golden sash wrapped around his chest. 14 The hair of his head was white as wool—white as snow—and his eyes like a fiery flame. 15 His feet were like fine bronze as it is fired in a furnace, and his voice like the sound of cascading waters. 16 He had seven stars in his right hand; a sharp double-edged sword came from his mouth, and his face was shining like the sun at full strength.

17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet like a dead man. He laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid. I am the First and the Last, 18 and the Living One. I was dead, but look—I am alive forever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and Hades.” – Revelation 1:12-18

This world offers hope in a variety of things, but if you look into the deeper meanings behind every possibility, you’ll see that none of them are lasting or good. They’ll never satisfy your desires. However, the hope that Jesus offers, satisfies everything you need for the present and the future. It’s a hope you can expect to deliver the promises it makes with love and grace.

As you prepare for this Christmas, hold onto the beautiful hope Jesus offers. Explore the wider surrounding stories connected to that of the Messiah’s birth throughout the Bible. Then study who this Jesus is now. He is Ruler, King, and Lord of all, and He will come again!

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