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Advent Week 1

By Jesse Packard
December 26, 2017

Advent Reading Week 1

Preparation Candle

Advent. The word advent means “arrival”, or “coming”. For thousands of years, Christians have taken the few weeks leading up to Christmas to celebrate the first coming of Christ and to prepare for the second coming of Christ. This is the advent season. Over the next four weeks we are going to prepare our hearts as well. If you would, I want you to do me a favor. Close your eyes. Imagine that you are an Israelite in the time just before Jesus’ coming.

You are one of the chosen children of the Most High God. Your people are different, set apart, because God chose you. From the very beginning, your entire culture has revolved around one central fact: Your God speaks. This is what has always set your God apart from all of the other gods. From the beginning with Abraham, all the way down through the patriarchs, judges, kings, and prophets, your God has always led your people by speaking to you or through you.

Or at least, that is the God of the stories and scriptures. Your God is different. Your God is silent. The God you have been raised to worship does not speak to you. 400 years ago your God stopped speaking to you. Now you follow a religious system that is based on a set of rules. Rules that grow more and more complex as your religious leaders interpret and contextualize those rules to the changing world around you. Those religious leaders tell you that God punishes the sinful, but that He has always saved Israel when they repented and turned back to Him. And He has over and over again promised that a savior is coming.

And you need a savior. There have probably been darker days in Israel’s past, at least you are a nation again, but this feels pretty bad. You are basically slaves to a vast, world spanning empire whose only concern with you seems to be how slowly they can starve you as their taxes drain your people dry.

Okay, you can open your eyes now. That is the context of the Jewish people just before the first advent of Jesus. What I want us to understand from this today is that the Jews were expecting Jesus. Desperately hoping for His coming. Preparing for Him.

All of that should bring us to a very important question. Why, in the midst of that preparation, did they miss it when He finally did show up?

The answer is that they were hoping for, and preparing for, a very different savior than the one that arrived. They were hoping for a savior that would save them from the Romans, a military leader that would lead them to victory over physical armies, and a king that would establish a worldly reign. Jesus did none of those things. Jesus was a savior that would save us from ourselves, a military leader that led us to victory over sin and death, and a king that established a heavenly kingdom.

As we prepare our hearts this advent season, let us make sure that we are preparing our heart’s correctly. Are we preparing our hearts for the advent of who Jesus truly is, or who we want Him to be? Have we submitted our hearts to the real Jesus, or are we hoping for a Jesus that will fit in a box we have created?

The God we prepare our hearts for was silent for over 400 years as He prepared to speak in a new way. When he did speak, it was not in a loud, earth shattering voice, but in a small cry that changed the world. The cry of a baby.