Advent – The Promise, The Appointment, The Hope, The Fulfillment
"And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it." Isaiah 40:5
The tradition of Advent in the life of the Christian Church is about a promise. God promised that a Savior would come to save His people from their sins. The human race was guilty of sin. from the fall of Adam, and the penalty for our sin was/is death. As the guilty we deserved death, but God, being not willing that any should die, but that all should come to repentance, sent His son, Jesus Christ our Lord, to die in our place. And so, an appointed time was prophesied for His coming. The message sent at that appointed time was delivered by the angel Gabriel. His first visit was to a priest named Zacharias. This was the first messenger of God to speak a word of Prophecy from God in 400 years since the days of the prophet Malachi.
In that day the final words of Malachi are filled with hope for the righteous and those who choose to serve the Lord and commune together with one another and speak often of Him. But the wicked will ultimately be judged and destroyed from the face of the earth when God smites the earth with a curse. The difference between a curse and a cure is a Savior.
"For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. 3And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts. Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. 5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: 6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse." Malachi 4:1-6
For 400 years from that prophecy there had been no prophetic words given to the people of Israel. There were no prophets who brought forth any messages of things to come. This was the last word until the day, theappointed time, when God sent an angel to speak to a priest, Zacharias, whose wife was Elizabeth, as he performed his office of ministry in the Holy Place of the Temple. They had been praying for a son, and heir, but Elizabeth was barren and they were both old beyond the normal years of child bearing. Yet, he faithfully prayed and believed God for a child. This is the account of that holy event and that defining moment for the people of Israel and indeed for the whole world.
"And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. 14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. 15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. 17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. Luke 1:11-17
Though the angel was sent to just one man in a solitary moment in the place where the Spirit of the Lord was believed to dwell in the midst of the people, what was said to him established a bridge between the final words of God to the prophet Malachi and now the renewed words of God given through the angel of God.
Malachi prophesied this:
5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: 6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse." Malachi 4:5-6
The angel who was sent to Zacharias said this:
16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. 17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. Luke 1:16-17
Jesus confirmed that John the Baptist was the one who Malachi spoke of as one to come in the spirit of Elias (Elijah).
"And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? 11 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. 12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise, shall also the Son of man suffer of them. 13 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist." Matthew 11:10-13
So, with this angelic prophetic utterance after 400 years of silence, a renewed line of communication was opened to Israel from God and ultimately to all the world.
Thus began an unfolding of the mystery of salvation that had been hidden in figures, types, and shadows for centuries, but now was comping to pass quickly. Within less than a year John the son of Zacharias and Elizabeth was born. What was impossible with men was made possible and manifested by faith in God.
One of the messages of this event is the exhortation to pray without ceasing until the fulfilment of what has been promised is realized. Our prayers don't always get instant perceivable answers, but in the appointed time God fulfills all that He promises. So, we can take hold of those promises with confidence, daily, knowing that our God will never fail to fulfill His Word.
Today is a good day to believe for what you can see, and for what you cannot yet see. Keep praying, keep on asking, seeking, and knocking. By doing so you are building up your faith and your unshakable trust in God. As my parents used to say, "Come hell or high water, whatever is promised to you, you're gonna get." Just DON'T GIVE UP!!! DONT' GIVE IN TO FEAR AND DOUBT! Above all HAVE FAITH IN GOD!!!! BELIEVE HIM, NO MATTER WHAT THINGS LOOK LIKE FOR THE MOMENT!
"While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:18
We have a promise from God, a Hope that is sure and steadfast.
"Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil..." Hebrews 6:19
We are not hanging our faith on some blind chance of the odds falling in our favor! NO! I hope is in God our Heavenly Father Who loves us immeasurably beyond whatever we could imagine. He will always meet our need, bless us, and provide for us, forgive us, and sustain us and all the while work in us to transform us into the image of Christ.
Whether we are believing something for ourselves or someone we love, a child, a spouse, a dear friend, an enemy, a pesky neighbor, or a person in authority for good or for evil, God hears and answers our prayers.
Advent reminds us that God keeps His Word!!!