Promise Made

    Promise Made
    Misc. Sermons

     
     
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    INTRODUCTION

    What is Advent?

    Although it started back on the 1st, we’re taking time this Sunday and next to consider Advent. Advent is the time of year where we stop to remember the coming of Jesus Christ. That’s what Advent actually means is “coming” or “arrival” or “unveiling.” When we celebrate Advent we are celebrating the coming of the Promised Messiah. 

    But notice what I just said there: we are celebrating the advent of the promised Messiah. Advent is a celebration of promises. And that’s because we ourselves are a people of promise. For centuries, God prepared people for the coming of his Son, Jesus. And at Christmas, as in, on Christmas Day, we celebrate the fulfillment of the promises that God made. So there’s a distinction between Advent and Christmas. At Christmas we celebrate the promise being fulfilled, and in Advent we celebrate the promises being made. So that leads to the title of this sermon: Promise Made. And next week, Pastor Stephen will guide us through a celebration of Christmas with a sermon titled [SPOILER ALERT!] Promise Kept.

    Now a little more about Advent. During Advent, it’s as if we’re re-enacting or remembering the thousands of years that God’s people were anticipating and longing for the coming of God’s Messiah, Jesus. 1 Peter 1:10-12 kinda captures this idea of longing:

    Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

    What I want you to notice here is that the prophets of old, those whose writings are contained in our Old Testament, were inquiring “what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.” So there was a sense of wonder and longing that these prophets had. And these prophecies were shared amongst the people of God and that wonder and longing spread to them as well. In fact, Peter tells us here, that “it was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you.” Peter is speaking to New Testament Christians here. He’s saying that the prophets were serving us. The things they wrote, the prophecies they foretold, the promises of God that they conveyed, they understood that they were for a future generation of people to come. And Peter concludes that “these things have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from Heaven. 

    So that’s my goal this morning. I want to preach to you the same good news the prophets of old foretold would be ours, and I want to do so through the power of the Holy Spirit, and to do that, we’ll need to pray, so would you join me? 

    The Importance of Understanding our Place in the Story

    Alright, as I was studying for this I realized that one of the most helpful characteristics of Advent is that it helps us to understand our place in the grand story that we’ve found ourselves in. By trying to relive the anticipation and longing of God’s ancient people, we are better able to understand our current moment, because there is much anticipation and longing that we experience as well, but we just don’t know how to deal with it. (And I’ll get to that in a moment). Listen to this quote from C.S. Lewis:

    In reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.

    Now C.S. Lewis is known for being able to take really complicated ideas and distill them down to accessible language and explanations that are easy to understand, but honestly I think he really blew it here. This quote just sounds really complicated, but here is what he is saying. He’s saying that when he reads a good story, he’s able to put himself in the shoes of the main character. He’s able to feel what they feel, he’s able to experience what they experience and in that way he is able to “become a thousand men and yet remain” himself. He doesn’t have to experientially learn the hardship and desperation and isolation of spending years at sea to try and slay the Great Whale, he can experience that through placing himself in the shoes of Ishmael. He doesn’t have to learn experientially about fellowship and endurance and pain by carrying the ring to Mordor, he can learn that vicariously through Frodo and Sam and Gandalf and Aragorn. Experience will always be the better teacher, but sympathy can be just as powerful of a tutor.

    So back to the strength of Advent that I mentioned earlier, about how it helps us understand our place in the grand story of God’s redemptive history that we’ve found ourselves in. Think about it for a moment with me:

    • Do you find in yourself a longing for something? Something you can’t quite articulate? Like there’s something “out there” in the world for you but you don’t know what it is? Like there’s more to life than this?
    • Do you find yourself feeling anxious and overwhelmed? Like life is way too much to handle and it seems as though things will never slow down? 
    • Do you feel let down by life? Are you overcome by depression and hopelessness, unsure if things will ever get better? 
    • Or more religiously, do you feel like God is silent? Are you unsure if He is truly aware of you and your circumstances? Or if He even cares or not? 
    • Are you tired and weary? Have you been striving hard after holiness and Jesus for so long, but seen such little progress or evidence of the “joy” that the Bible speaks so much of that you’re on the edge of burnout? 

    If any of this resonated with you, then Advent is what you need. Because in Advent we understand our place in the story, we can gauge where we’re at on this journey and we can find the help that we need to remedy each and every one of these problems we’ve just mentioned. We can find purpose. 

    Craig Bartholomew and Michael Goheen mention the power of story in their book “the Drama of Scripture.” They say

    In order to make sense of our lives we depend on some story. Some story provides the broader framework of meaning for every part of our lives…I can only answer the question, “What am I to do?” if I can answer the prior question, ‘Of what story do I find myself a part?’ Our lives—the questions and events and decisions and relationships that fill it—take their meaning from within some narrative.

    And our lives—your life, my life—we all exist in a certain time, a certain place, a certain point in the grand narrative that God is weaving throughout history. And this narrative gives meaning and purpose to our lives and helps us to answer the question of “what am I supposed to do?

    Now luckily for us, God’s story is kind of like a Hallmark Christmas movie. He has a knack of telling the same story over and over and over while just changing the characters. Same plot, same scenes, same rising and falling action, just different characters. So if you’re obsessed with Hallmark Christmas movies, you can thank God for that because they got the idea from Him. And if we walk through this story that God has told before, we can, like Lewis mentioned, learn something that can aid us in our own living through this moment in history. Let me show you an example of what I’m talking about real quickly.

    AN EXAMPLE OF THE STORY

    Abraham to Joshua

    The entire narrative of Scripture, and the entire narrative of our lives can be summed up in 4 movements: Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration. Now it applies to the whole Bible like this, and this is really oversimplifying for the sake of time, but the point will easily be made:

    Creation: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth.

    Fall: Mankind fell into sin and was thus separated from God and subject to death and the sorrow and despair caused by sin.

    Redemption: Unable to save themselves, God sends His Son, Jesus, to undo the curse of sin upon us by living a perfect life, dying in our place for our sins, and crediting to us the perfect life that He lived, thereby reconciling us to God and giving us the capacity to fight against sin and pursue holiness. 

    Restoration: One day Jesus is going to come again and completely restore the Earth and those who have repented of their sin and placed their trust in Him to a completely sinless state, restoring to us the original harmony and communion with God that we were intended to have at the beginning.

    Now that’s the entire narrative of Scripture very simply summarized, okay? But now this narrative is spun over and over in various ways throughout Scripture. We see this same sequence of events—creation, fall, redemption, and restoration—happen over and over again throughout the Old Testament. This is what scholars call “typology”, these mini-stories serves as “types” of the grander narrative that is taking place, intending to remind us of the story we find ourselves in and point us ahead to the greater hope that we have. So here’s an example:

    In Genesis 12, God made a promise to Abraham that he would bless him and make him the father of many nations. And from the descendants of Abraham, the nation of Israel was born. God created a covenant with Abraham that resulted in the creation of a nation of people that would be His people and to whom He would be their God. He made many promises to Abraham that were passed down to the nation of Israel: He promised to bless them, to protect them, to preserve them, to provide for them, and to bless the world through them. He promised to give them a land of their own that they would possess and that they would prosper and live abundantly. 

    But this nation of people quickly fell into temptation and sin, due to jealousy and envy they find themselves disobeying God’s command and before they know it, they are enslaved in Egypt. This is the fall. Now this is the most intense and prolonged movement of this mini-narrative. For 430 years, the people of Israel were enslaved by an incredibly brutal regime. They suffered for a long time, but it was their sin that had led them there. 

    Finally, God raises up a man named Moses who delivers the people out of the land of Egypt. Through a mighty display of God’s power, He inflicts Egypt with ten plagues that finally convince Pharaoh to let Israel go and be free. And as they’re leaving, if you remember, God commanded Egypt to give the Israelites vast amounts of gold and silver and food and everything they’d need to survive and more. You can imagine how the Israelites must have felt at this point: God is finally showing up! He’s finally doing something! He’s making true on His promises! He’s making us prosperous! He’s blessing us! As they are fleeing from Egypt, God miraculously parts the Red Sea and allows the Israelites to pass through, but closes the waters in on the pursuing Egyptians, putting an end to Israel’s enemy. God is protecting us! His promises are coming true! And to top it all off, God begins to lead them to the promised land that He swore to Abraham. He’s making good on all of His promises. It seems that the story has now moved into the next movement from Fall to Redemption. 

    But from your recollection of the story, does this period redemption last very long? No, it doesn’t. The Israelites quickly fall again in several ways: they grumble and complain against God for making them travel through the wilderness in harsh conditions, they make an idol of a Golden Calf and worship it, they fall back into sin. And for the next 40 years God punishes their sin by making them wander through the wilderness. An entire generation would pass before they would enter the promised land. And in this movement of the story we see the narrative flip flop back and forth between fall and redemption, fall and redemption, fall and redemption. The people are led astray from worship of God and are enslaved by Egypt—fall. God sends them a prophet in the person of Moses to show them the way and the people are freed from Egypt—redemption. They complain about their provisions—fall. God provides mana and quail—redemption. The Israelites disobey God out of ignorance of His commands—fall. God calls Moses up onto Mt. Sinai to create a new covenant with His people by giving them the 10 commandments—redemption. God’s people create an idol and worship it and are forbidden from entering the promised land—fall. Unable to atone for their sins themselves and regain relationship with God, He gives them Aaron, a High Priest to intercede for them and atone foe their sins—redemption. 

    But then after Moses dies, and a generation passes, God raises up a new leader for the people of Israel, the King-like Joshua. And the narrative moves into a new sequence of redemption. 

    God uses Joshua to lead the Israelites to the Promised Land, and they quickly find out that the land they are to inherit is inhabited by their enemies. Joshua, in King-like fashion, leads the charge against the Canaanites that are inhabiting the land that God had promised them and they conquer their enemies. At last, the promised land is theirs.

    Now imagine for a moment. This all took place over about 850 years. From the time God made a promise to Abraham to the time that Joshua led the Israelites into the Promised Land. Over that 850 years, the Israelites suffered both immense seasons of trial and tribulation, and periods of relative ease and comfort. But they had not seen the fulfillment of everything that God had promised. For 850 years the people of Israel clung to the hope that God would be true to them, that God would come through for them. That He would keep His promises. As soon as it seemed God was miraculously showing up, something would happen and they’d be back in the throes of pain and sorrow. And this happened over and over and over again. Back and forth, back and forth, suffering and ease, suffering and ease, fall and redemption, fall and redemption. Can you imagine how tired the Israelites were? The sense of anticipation. The never-ending longing for peace. The constantly nagging question of “when, Lord!?” 

    But then, the moment comes. The promised land is theirs. They divide the land up between the twelve tribes and they split their spoils and possession amongst one another. And then at the end of Joshua 21 we read this amazing passage of Scripture that captures perfectly for us how the story had moved to the final movement: restoration:

    Thus the LORD gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers. And they took possession of it, and they settled there. And the LORD gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their fathers. Not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the LORD had given all their enemies into their hands. Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass. 

    In Advent, We Are Reminded that We Are Caught Between Fall and Redemption, Awaiting Restoration

    So in Advent, as we recount these stories and try to place ourselves in the shoes of the Israelites as we’ve just tried to do, we are reminded that we, too, are caught in a perpetual cycle of fall, redemption, fall, redemption, fall, redemption, rinse and repeat. And we are awaiting our restoration, the second coming, the second Advent, of Jesus Christ. 

    It takes a really dishonest person to say that this isn’t true of themselves; that they are caught in a seemingly never-ending cycle of fall and redemption. We sin, we repent and ask for forgiveness, we sin, we repent and ask for forgiveness. It’s an exhausting cycle is it not? But why do we do this!?

    Look, we all know what we should do. The problem is that we don’t do it. And it’s a problem that’s inherent within us and stems from a misunderstanding of the story we find ourselves in and a lack of trust in God’s promises. And when we don’t trust in God’s promises the only alternative for us to believe in is a lie. You see, no one sins out of duty. It’s not like any of us here are like, “Okay, so it’s Sunday. What’s on my schedule? Okay, I’m gonna sit through this sermon right now, go home and yell at my spouse and make sure my kids are in bed early tonight because I’ve got my 9:00pm pornography appointment that I’ve got to keep.” No one does that.

    We sin because we have set aside the promises of God and bought into a lie that whatever it is we are about to give ourselves to will satisfy us. But when has that satisfaction ever lasted? When has giving into sin ever truly fulfilled you? We all know the answer to this question. It hasn’t. But we still keep giving ourselves to it. So this leads to my first point…

    WE NEED A PROPHET TO SHOW US THE WAY

    We Have Lost our Way

    We have lost our way. David Naugle, who wrote a fantastic book called Reordered Love, Reordered Lives: Learning the Deep Meaning of Happiness, says,

    Ignorance and disordered love are two of the primary consequences of humanity’s fall into sin.

    Because we’ve fallen into sin, we are ignorant as to the way we should go. And our ignorance leads us to love things we shouldn’t which leads us to despair and sorrow. St. Augustine spoke a lot about this. Augustine insisted that our ability to be set free from temptation to sin is to retrain our hearts to love and find joy in things other than sin. Augustine understood that mankind is on a quest for happiness and we look for it in all the wrong places. And it’s trying to find happiness and joy in all these wrong places that has led to our restlessness and feeling like we are lost in this world. 

    Augustine said that there were three different kinds of unhappy people:

    1) The one who cannot have what he loves, whatever it may be

    This is self-explanatory, you cannot be happy if you don’t have what your heart deeply desires. You can’t. Augustine says that this person “seeks what he cannot obtain and suffers torture.”

    2) The one who has what he loves, but it is hurtful to him

    This one expands off the first one. Say the man in the first scenario did get what his heart desired most, but that thing was hurtful to him. You can’t be happy if your deepest desires are ultimately destructive to you and those around you. I would say that this is the case for most of us. What we deeply desire and long for isn’t really that constructive and helpful to us. Of this person, Augustine says that he “has what is in actuality not desirable and is cheated.”

    3) The one who does not love what he has, even though it is good. 

    This person lives an incredibly ironic life, does he not? He has what it takes to be happy, but doesn’t care a thing for it. Instead he’s convinced that something else is what will make Him happy. He scoffs at the filet mignon and craves dollar store beef jerky. Of this person, Augustine says that “he does not seek what is worth seeking for and is diseased.”

    That’s what we are, tortured, cheated, and diseased people who aren’t happy because we lack what we love, we love what we shouldn’t, or we don’t love what we should. We have lost our way in this life.

    So Augustine’s answer was to conjure up a fourth person. He says, “I find then a fourth case, where the happy life exists, when that which is man’s chief good is both loved and possessed.” 

    But how do we find this?  I have three promises from the word of God that I want to share with you that I believe will help us.

    God Promised a Prophet to Show us the Way

    Lucky for us, God made us a promise that he would send us a prophet to show us the way to this chief good. Just like he gave the prophet Moses to Israel, He has promised us an even greater prophet. 

    In Deuteronomy 18:15, Moses said, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen.” And in both Acts 3:22 and Acts 7:37, Jesus is confirmed to have been this prophet whom Moses was speaking of. Jesus was the one who came to show us the way. 

    This is the first promise you need to cling to: that Jesus Christ is the Prophet sent from God to show us the Way. He is the one who has shown us what is good, what we should love, and what we should pursue. 

    Jesus Has Gone Before Us Showing the Way

    The wonder of Advent is that it is a reminder to us that at our point in the story, we exist in a time when Jesus Has gone before us showing us the way to true happiness and joy. He has shown us how to break the cycle of endless letdowns and constant disappointment and nagging anxiety and crippling depression that comes with pursuing the things of this world. God did not see fit to leave us wandering aimlessly through life, He has not left us on our own to figure this thing out. He has had compassion on us and has sent us a Messenger to show us the Way to life and joy.

    Just like the Israelites followed their prophet Moses, our Prophet Jesus has issued an invitation for us to follow Him as well in Matthew 11:28-30:

    Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

    Just like we read in Joshua 21 that “God gave the Israelites rest on all sides” Jesus promises to give us rest. Rest that pervades even to the deepest parts of who we are, our souls.

    Do you think you’ve ever truly experienced calm, unhurried, rest in your soul? Do you want to? Jesus has said that we can have this if we take His yoke upon us and learn from Him. 

    And there’s one thing that I think we should learn from Him if we are to enter this rest. It’s a simple statement that He made that helps us to reorder our loves, reorder our lives, and find the happiness and joy we so desperately seek. 

    In Matthew 6 Jesus tells us that the cure to our anxiety and restless pursuits is “to seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these other things [happiness, provision, calm, peace, security, love, communion with God] all these things will be added to you.” 

    In all of our wandering, searching, experimenting, trying, testing, looking, eating, traveling, buying, making, smoking, drinking, in all of our pursuits, it’s really the Kingdom of God that we are looking for. We know this because When Jesus prays in his famous prayer “Your Kingdom come”, He clarified what He meant by saying, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Seeking the Kingdom of God is seeking the presence of heaven, the presence of God, in the here and now. Seeking His perfect will in our lives, a will that desires for us to delight in Him and find our joy in making much of Him forever. To seek first the Kingdom of God is to seek paradise. And Jesus promises that we can find it. Right here, right now. Even in this very moment. 

    We make the Kingdom of God our first priority, our first love, and like Augustine said, we will possess what we desire, and we will truly be happy. 

    The narrative of our lives will begin to transition from fall to redemption. 

    WE NEED A PRIEST TO ATONE FOR OUR SINS

    We Cannot Atone for our Sins

    But alas, every single one of us who has walked this way of Jesus knows one thing to be especially true. We never walk this way perfectly. Yes following the way of Jesus, making the Kingdom of God a priority will help you move from fall to redemption and bring you joy, but the allure of sin is always there, and there are times when pursuing the Kingdom of God requires us to do incredibly difficult things, like cut off a hand, gouge out an eye, or sell all our possessions. 

    Our willpower to do all of these things perfectly is conspicuously lacking across the entire human race. And when we don’t do these things, the Kingdom is removed from it’s first priority and subjugated below something far more inferior, and we find ourselves moving backwards in the narrative, back into the fall. We find ourselves in the position of the third man Augustine described: we have access to the very thing we are supposed to love, but we don’t love it. Like Augustine said, this shows us that we are diseased people. 

    That disease is called sin. It permeates every bit of who we are. It’s what keeps the narrative of our lives returning from redemption back to fall. It’s the thing that convinces us not to trust the promises of God and to trust in a lie instead. And because of our sin we stand condemned before God, dead and hopeless and unable to do anything at all to save ourselves. But here’s the thing: we are required by God to do something about it. We are required and demanded by God to be absolutely perfect if we are to know true joy. We must make amends for every single sin we have ever committed against God if we are to ever truly escape our repetitive fall-redemption pattern and find restoration.

    Throughout the millennia of human history, many people have tried to do this themselves. They’ve tried to conjure up something within themselves to offer God in return for their blasphemy and hatred of Him. I’m sure you’ve probably done it. If you’ve ever said “Hey, I’m a good person”, or measured your behavior against Adolf Hitler and considered yourself okay, then you’ve fallen into the trap of thinking that you aren’t incurably affected by the disease of sin in a way that is completely beyond your capacity to remedy. 

    God Promised a High Priest to Atone for Our Sins

    But remember our friends the Israelites. God knew that an ongoing relationship with a sinful people would require an ongoing atonement for the sins they’ve committed against Him. So He instituted the sacrificial system and gave them a High Priest, Aaron, to make sacrifices of atonement for them. God provided a way for them to move from a position of “fallen” to “redeemed” through the Levitical sacrifices. 

    In the same way, God promised us in Psalm 110:4 that he would send us “a High Priest forever.” A High Priest who would never stop interceding for us, who would never stop pleading our case before God, and who would offer a sacrifice to God that would satisfy His wrath against our sin forever. And that High Priest is the God-man Jesus Christ. And this is the second promise that you need to cling to: that Jesus Christ is the Promised High Priest who takes away our sins. 

    Jesus our Perfect High Priest

    You see the problem with the old priesthood was that the priests themselves kept dying. So it was an indicator that what they were doing wasn’t actually working! If the wages of sin is death, but sin had been atoned for through their sacrifices, then why were even the High Priests, the most holy of men within Israel, the one’s who were granted access into the Holy of Holies, why were these men dying? 

    It’s because as the author of Hebrews tells us in Hebrews 10:4 that it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. But this is not true of the blood of Jesus. 

    Listen to this explanation of Jesus’ priestly reign for us, also from the author of the book of Hebrews in chapter 7:

    “Now there have been many other priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office. But because Jesus lives forever, He has a permanent priesthood. Therefore He is able to save completely those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest truly befits us—One who is holy, innocent, undefiled, set apart from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, He does not need to offer daily sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people; He sacrificed for sin once for all when He offered up Himself.

    THIS is the fulfillment of the promise God made to us long ago. Listen, God did not look at you in your filth, in your wickedness, in your refuse and the muck of your obscenity and then choose to turn his head away from you, no God chose to cover all of your sin, all of your unrighteousness, everything that makes you vile and depraved and wicked and evil, God chose to wash you clean from all your iniquity by the blood of His own holy, innocent, undefiled Son.

    He poured the blood of the Holy on the unholy, He washed the guilty with the blood of the innocent, He mixed the blood of the undefiled Son with the corrupt repulsiveness of defiled mankind and Jesus came out on the other side of that exchange with glory and holiness and righteousness to spare. His splendor is inexhaustible and God promised that splendor to you long before you were ever even born.

    This is the kindness of God. He has shown us the way to end our longing through Jesus our Prophet, and He has provided a way for that longing to never be spoiled through Jesus our High Priest. Both of these remedies promised from long ago. 

    WE NEED A KING TO PROTECT AND KEEP US

    Our Enemies are Many

    But we still face one final threat and that is the threat of the Enemy. For the Israelites, the enemy was the Canaanites. And a detail that I left out of that story when I told it was that when God led the Israelites to the Promised Land, when they were in a state of redemption, they sent out scouts to survey the land and when they laid eyes upon their enemy, all of the scouts came back terrified and doubting God’s ability to bring them victory. They had retreated to a fallen state again. 

    Our enemy has the ability to inflict us with the same fear. We could be on the cusp on the Promised Land, on the very edges of Paradise, and one glimpse of the enemy can send us cowering in fear, distrusting God’s ability to preserve us. 

    For Israel, God gave them a warrior, a King-like figure named Joshua to lead the charge to take hold of what was rightfully theirs, to move forward the narrative from fall to redemption. And He has promised to give us the same.

    Christ Our King Has Defeated all our Enemies

    In 2 Samuel 7, God promised that a King would come after David who would lead God’s people into righteousness. 

    And when your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He will build a house for My Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

    The Prophet Isaiah picks up on this promise that God had made with what’s probably a very well known Christmas passage to you if you’ve been doing this for a while. It comes from Isaiah 9:6-7:

    For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be upon His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from that time and forevermore.”

    The angel Gabriel, when he announced the birth of Jesus to Mary and Joseph confirmed that Jesus was the one who would fill the spot as King on this throne when he told them in Luke 1: “His name will be Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”

    Jesus is our promised prophet who shows us the way, He is our promised priest who atones for our sins, and now the third promise that we need to cling to: Jesus is our promised King who defeats our enemies. And oh, look what he has done. Hebrews 2:14-15:

    “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, He himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.

    Do you see how amazing this is? It was through death, His death on the cross, that Jesus destroyed the one who has the power of death, the devil. He used his own weapon against him! By covering all of our sin and dying for us on the cross and rising from the grave, Jesus has effectively de-fanged the devil because he can no longer accuse you of anything at all whatsoever. He can no longer make a case for our death penalty because the Judge Himself has acquitted us by offering His own life in our place. Our warrior King has defeated the devil, he has no power over us whatsoever.

    But even more, it says that Jesus our King has delivered all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. Paul says it this way, “Oh death where is your sting? Oh hell, where is your victory?” There is none! Because Christ our King has set us free!

    Christ our King has vanquished all of our enemies and we can stand now in this life fearless of what may come. If we do not need to fear the enemy, if we do not need to fear hell, and if we do not need to fear death, then you know what that makes us? 

    Free. We are free. 

    Christ Shares in Advent with Us

    We are free to take our eyes off of ourselves, off of our sin, off of the world, off of our fears, and place them firmly upon the hope of our salvation. We are free to trust the One who has kept true on all of His promises by sending us the Promised One.

    We are free to set ourselves free from the tyranny of sin, to position the narrative of our lives firmly and confidently in the movement of redemption, trusting that our perfect Prophet, Priest, and King will keep us firm until we can all enjoy together the conclusion to this incredible story: restoration. The restoration of our bodies, our souls, and the world. The restoration of all that has gone wrong in the world. The restoration of our perfect union and fellowship with God forever. 

    I long for this. I hope you long for this too. Because, you know, a place of longing, a place of waiting…it isn’t such a bad place to be. We’re in good company as we await the return of our Good King.

    Matthew 24:36 says this: 

    “But concerning that day and hour [that the Son will come again] no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” – Matthew 24:36

    Even now, Jesus, “seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3), is awaiting the day of His return. He shares our longing with us. He shares in our desire to be united with Him. He feels the ache of separation from His bride., meaning just as much as you long for Him, He also longs for you.

    Jesus shares in Advent with us. What a good Savior.

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