This advent season has been a particularly sweet one for me as we’ve been going through the Jesse Tree devotions with our kids at home and as a church on Sunday mornings.
Advent was always very abstract to me. It was something I did, but not something I really understood. Beyond the candles we would light on Sunday nights before bed and the calendar boxes with little candies and trinkets counting down the days till Christmas, it wasn’t particularly meaningful to me.
Now I realize that’s because I just didn’t get it.
I had never seen the advent season for what it is. A time to reflect and allow ourselves to experience the longing and expectancy of a long-awaited Savior.
I’d like to share the readings and Scriptures we’ve been going through together at church on Sunday mornings. The process of studying these passages and reflecting on their connection to Christmas has been such a powerful one for me, and my prayer is that it will be for you as well.
In the busy-ness of these final days before Christmas, I pray these reflections will help still your mind and heart as you rest in fulfilled promise of our Messiah.
Longing…expectancy…desperate need of a Deliverer…
The people of Israel were acutely aware of their need of a Deliverer, and experienced this intense sense of longing for the day that He would come. The day that all of the prophecies they had grown up hearing, the ones they had whispered into the ears of their babes, would come to pass.
Their eyes looked to Bethlehem, the place of His promised birth.
Their hearts pounded in hopeful expectation of the promised heir to David’s throne. The family line to which they watched and waited for their promised Deliverer.
And so for us, as we begin this season of Advent, we position ourselves in that same place of longing… of expectancy. And recognizing our own desperate need of a Deliverer, even though we know He has come, we will allow ourselves to feel that same yearning.
It’s not that hard to do. We feel it now as we sit in this place of the “already and the not yet”. We long for the day when Christ will return and usher in His Kingdom. When “He will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, for the former things will have passed away”. We cling to the promises of the Lord, and we wait, just as the Israelites waited…
Isaiah 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, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
Our promised Messiah, to come from the stump of Jesse. Jesse, the father of King David.
But why the need for a Messiah? Why the need for a Savior?
This story has a beginning. It’s a story of God’s love for a world that didn’t even exist yet. A people He loved before they were ever formed, before they were ever even created.
Genesis 1:26-31 “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them.”
Created and blessed by God Himself.
But prone to wander…Lord we feel it! Prone to leave the God we love.
For everything beautiful and perfect and holy, there is a counterfeit. And despite God’s protective boundaries, we are so easily persuaded to doubt His goodness and provision.
Genesis 3:1-5 “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘you shall not eat of any tree in the garden?’ and the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden, but God said, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
What the serpent didn’t explain was that the opening of their eyes would, in fact, usher in death. That the knowledge of good and evil would introduce sin into the world. And that a holy God, cannot be in fellowship with sinful man. And just as God warned it would, sin grew and grew until the bend of man’s heart was no longer toward the Lord.
Genesis 6:5-8 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.
Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.
But this story isn’t about Noah. It’s about the God of the universe, who had every right to wipe out humanity and bring punishment for their sin, providing a way of escape.
The ark…This vessel that would shelter and protect Noah and his family from the wrath of the floodwaters would be one of the first whispers of the coming Messiah. The promised vessel, sent from heaven to rescue mankind from the wages of their sin. God’s plan was certainly not just to rescue Noah.
Genesis 12:1-3 and verse 7 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed…Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him.
A promised land to a sojourner.
A promised people to an old man with no children.
A promised Messiah to a broken and lost world.