“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive the adoption as sons.” – Galatians 4:4-5
Elijah was a pretty lonely man at one time. He thought he was the only follower of the one true God left on the earth. All others in Israel had abandoned their God, the God who had made them a nation and a people. All, Elijah believed, had gone over to a false god, an idol made of created material elements; a non-thinking, non-seeing, non-hearing statue named Baal. But God knew better. He told Elijah there were 7,000 in Israel who had not bowed the knee to Baal; a remnant kept by God of genuine worshippers of Himself. But Elijah’s loneliness was a reminder of the desire for something more in man’s relationship with the Sovereign God.
The fellowship enjoyed with God-in-the flesh far exceeds any other fellowship we have with God. It is why the Father sent His Son, wedded to our flesh for eternity, to redeem us. It is why Job yearned for a mediator between God and man who could lay His hand on us both (Job 9:23). Jesus is this mediator. Until He took on flesh and came to win our salvation, we were lonely for such a mediator. Job yearned for this, and he represents us in his holy desire.
This desire for a mediator between God and man, the dispelling of the loneliness created by His not having come, by His not being yet incarnate (in the flesh), makes His Advent so necessary, so desirable, so eagerly anticipated. This was the hope of centuries, of millenniums. Prophets throughout the centuries from the “protoevangelion” of Genesis 3:15 (first promise of the gospel) to the prophecy of Malachi (3:1), along with the announcement to Zechariah by an angel of God of the birth of John the Baptist to Zechariah and Elizabeth. He would be the forerunner of Messiah. And up to the Annunciation by Gabriel to Mary of her choice by God to give birth to Jesus, His only begotten Son. It is a string of messianic prophecies over thousands of years.
Advent, when in the fullness of time in God’s calendar, arrived, penetrating centuries of darkness and loneliness that extended from the fellowship Adam and Eve enjoyed with their Creator in the Garden of Eden to the sudden coming of the Son of God in the flesh to a small animal shelter in the tiny town of Bethlehem of Judea. Of course, there were many who had walked intimately with God in the intervening centuries, talking and fellowshipping with him in spiritual reality. But the promise of an in-the-flesh Redeemer had not yet been fulfilled; the promise to our first parents of a Messiah, the seed of a virgin who would crush the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15). This promise created a sense of hope in some mothers in Israel that their new son might possibly be the promised Messiah.
Advent is the fulfillment of this grand promise, of these prophecies through the ages past, that Messiah would suddenly appear in God’s timing. And suddenly appear He did. Only a handful were cognizant of it: Mary and Joseph, a group of shepherds (because of the angels’ announcement), Simeon and Anna, Magi from Persia. The celebration of Advent encompasses the prophetic history of waiting for the fulfillment and then celebrating the actual occurrence of the arrival of Messiah. Since his birth, death, resurrection, and ascension we live in the period of awaiting His Second Advent, the return of Messiah, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.
May your celebration again this year of Advent be your comfort and joy, and cause you to eagerly expect His return. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
“Come, thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free; from our fears and sins release us; let us find our rest in thee. Israel’s strength and consolation, hope of all the earth thou art, dear Desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.”
(1st verse of Charles Wesley’s hymn, “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus,” 1744)
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