Advent: December 2
“O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel that mourns in lonely exile here, until the Son of God appear.”
For hundreds of years, rumors had been spreading: word of a Messiah, coming to redeem Israel. Can you imagine what they experienced? Just waiting around for something to occur for years and years?
In many ways, our instant gratification-focused culture is completely averse to waiting. We subscribe to a service that gets us our packages within two days. We watch the Domino's Pizza Tracker to see when our pizzas make it to the oven (I love doing this). We even upgrade our streaming services so we don't have to watch the commercials—or maybe you begged your spouse to be on the same page about upgrading and got vetoed (same).
Think about the times when you've felt really frustrated recently. Were they all focused on having to wait: for the table to be ready, for Great American Cookies to actually decide to make the birthday cake you ordered for your husband weeks in advance, for the traffic lights to turn green?
Other times, waiting is more heavy than those petty occurrences. Waiting can be dark. We wait for dreams to come true. We wait for prayers to be answered. We wait for the next steps. In this sense, we have to wait blindly. And from a time perspective, so did the prophets. The editors of Watch for the Light asked, “How many of us share the longing of ancient prophets, who awaited the Messiah with such aching intensity that they foresaw His arrival thousands of years before He was born?”
Aching intensity. Longing. The prophets and the people were desperately waiting for Jesus. And in their waiting, God was using them to prepare earth to receive her king.
Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 7:14: "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." Later, he prophesied in Isaiah 9:6: "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Micah prophesied in Micah 5:4–5: "And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. And he shall be their peace."
There wasn't merely one mention about Jesus in the Old Testament; there were several, by different authors and placed in different books. Jesus was coming, and with anticipation, the prophets were spreading the word.
The verbiage in these prophecies is also significant: "The Lord himself will." "He shall stand and shepherd." "The government shall be upon his shoulder." "He shall be their peace." We don't find "maybe" or "I'm pretty sure" or "it's possible" here. This wasn't the rumor mill or a game of telephone. The hope they professed was hope that was fixed on Jesus, sure of the promises God led them to proclaim.
This is the same hope that we cling to this Advent. God told the prophets about the hope of the coming King. That first Advent, in that stable in little Bethlehem, this promise was fulfilled. Down to the details, amidst many years and words from different messengers, God was true to His word. Will that not be the case today?
Does He not have a plan outside of your preferred timeline? Does He not have purpose behind the waiting you are experiencing? Does He not know the hairs on your head (Luke 12:7) and the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4)?
Millennium after millennium, generation after generation, year after year, and minute by minute, God is worthy of our trust. This is hope for the waiting: for the one waiting for a husband, for the one waiting for a baby, for the one waiting for a job, for the one waiting for a friend, for the one waiting for healing. As we wait and as we are reminded of prophecies of old and even our own testimonies right now, we can find hope in knowing that God is always at work.
Today, as we wait for many things, but mostly, for another prophecy to unfold, we have the opportunity to wait with hope fixed on the God who has always been faithful. We wait, for sure. But not without hope.
Like the prophets testified, Jesus was coming. And like God promises to all of us waiting here on earth, He is surely coming again.