That Present Before Us- a Devotion (3/4)
“Mommy, can we open the gifts right now?” Wait for a second. Let’s go back approximately 12 hours before to a short exchange between my wife and I. After our bedtime routine with the boys, my wife says to me, “I think I am going to start wrapping presents tonight.” My wise and all-knowing response: “Okay, but you do realize as soon as the boys see the wrapped gifts they’re going to want to open them immediately.” Now fast forward 12 hours. Our youngest sees the presents and yells, “Christmas presents!” The oldest asks….and asks…and asks, “Mommy, can we open the gifts right now?” Their voices are full of excitement and anticipation. With one fell swoop, mommy and daddy crush the excitement—but hopefully not the anticipation—with a “No, we have to wait until Christmas.” Then comes the all too familiar whiney “Please?!”
Most of us have seen this with our children or the children around us. We may have even been the children in this scenario. We see the promise of something exciting, and we want it right away. The anticipation is even greater if there is some mystery surrounding the promise. During this Advent Season, the promise of presents—I hope—are intended to be an object lesson of the hope and anticipation of the unveiling of the Messiah. It hopefully brings us back to the anticipation and hope of Jesus’ first coming and directs us to the hope and anticipation of His second coming.
I wonder if the people of Israel held the same type of anticipation and wonder when the Prophets told them of God’s promise to act. We know that many times they ignored and persecuted the Prophets because they didn’t like what they were hearing, especially the judgment prophecies. But even in the judgement prophecies, God gives the hope of His provision and redemption. That is the hope of all the Prophets’ “Messianic” Prophecies. God promises to rescue His people from their enemies and bring them peace through the Davidic Messiah. They didn’t realize this peace would first start with a victory over sin and death. Many of the prophecies had fulfillment near to the day they were given, but they also had a deep-seated promise that there would be one to come as a second fulfillment. In all these prophecies given to the people, there is hope and anticipation in God’s provision in the future.
We must see that Prophecy isn’t given to satisfy people’s curiosity. God does not give prophecy to reveal the future so much as to reveal who He is so that His people would put their trust in Him. Prophecy should induce awe, wonder, worship and faith in His people.
We come to the great prophecies of the First Advent of Jesus with great hope and anticipation seeing that they have come to reality. In Jesus we have Immanuel (Isa. 7:14), God with us. Jesus comes to meet our “hopes and fears of all the years” in Bethlehem (Mic 5:2) as the classic Christmas Carol leads us to sing. We have the steadfast love of God (Isa. 16:5) bringing His eternal and mountainous kingdom (Dan. 2:34-35, 44-45; 7:14, 18, 27) through the birth of His Only Son (John 1:14; 3:16). This Jesus who was born is the long-expected King whose rule will never be stifled and will bring eternal peace (Isa. 9:6-7).
During this season of Advent, may we look to the revelation of Jesus with anticipation. May we look back with thankfulness and look forward with awe toward the anticipation of His Second Coming. But may this anticipation produce in us a drive to live out His Kingdom now and share the wonder of His love to those who have superficial and temporary hopes to celebrate this Season. The promise of Advent is not given so that it can be a far-off reality that we just sit around and wait to happen to us. The promise of Advent is a motivator of worship, holiness and proclamation. While my kids may be tempted to sit and stare at the gifts with anticipation thinking that Christmas is incredibly far away, we still have work to do. While Jesus’ Advent feels like a long time ago and His Second Coming seems to tarry, we still have work to do in anticipation. We have a merciful and just Savior who has given us His first and second Advents to tell our families and our world about through our actions and words. May we wish people a Merry Christmas not in protest of “Happy Holidays” being the approved well wish, but rather may we wish people a Merry Christmas because we know why Christmas is merry and want them to know as well.