You may not have realised, but we are in a season called Advent. When we reach December (or is it October?) we start to think of Christmas. We are all too hasty, though. It is not yet time for that! Advent is a season of expectant waiting. And wait we should.
You see, before Jesus was born, Israel had been waiting for centuries for their promised deliverer. From the beginning of the story of God and his people (found in the Bible), God had promised a deliverer – a Messiah. See Genesis 3:15.
I will put emnity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heal.
Further into the story, the prophet Isaiah writes:
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given;and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace
Further on in Isaiah, the expectation is built again, this time in chapter 11:1-2.
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him . . .
750 years before Jesus was born, Micah wrote, in 5:2, 4:
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall spring forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.
And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth.
For thousands of years, God’s people had been waiting. It is in this season that we wait, also. We wait for the promises of God to come true on Christmas Day. We wait for God to become man, to dwell among us. We wait expectantly for God to deliver us from captivity. Let it be clear, though, that we do not wait literally, but figuratively. The promised Messiah was born 2000 years ago in Bethlehem. We don’t need to wait for him any longer. In the spirit of the season, though, we wait for Christmas Day, when we celebrate that event.
The Lord promised from the beginning of the world that he would deliver his people from captivity. From Roman oppression? Perhaps. That’s what the Jews hoped for. From poverty? Maybe, but not yet. Delivery from death? From sin? Indeed. And so it was for that reason that the Messiah was born – to ransom his people from captivity. This Advent, we wait also – not for the Messiah, but to celebrate his birth.
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