The fourth Sunday of Advent has some great readings from the Scriptures. Each Sunday of Advent deals with Old and New Testament references to the First and Second Advent. I have really enjoyed writing about the first three Sundays of Advent and you can read those articles by clicking on the following links:
Another way of outlining the Sundays of Advent is:
One of the names that is given to Jesus in the Old Testament is Emmanuel. It means “God with us“. Advent is the celebration of the Messiah, God with us. We named our son Emmanuel as a constant reminder that God is always with us. God laid the foundation for this anticipation of the coming Messiah all the way back in the book of Genesis. From the promise of the Advent of the Messiah in Genesis until Jesus is born, about four thousand years of human history pass. Throughout those four thousand years, each generation of people living in anticipation of the Advent of the Messiah. Hints of this Advent are scattered all throughout the Old Testament. Our goal, when reading these passages, is to determine if the author was writing of the First Advent or of the Second Advent.
I. King David wrote of the Advent of the King of Glory
King David was a very complicated man. He had a simple upbringing as a shepherd boy. He was chosen by God to be the second king of Israel. God calls David a man after His own heart. Let’s examine Psalm 24, a psalm of King David, to see what we can learn about the Advent of the King of Glory.
1 The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it.
2 For He has founded it upon the seas And established it upon the rivers.
3 Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place?
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood And has not sworn deceitfully.
5 He shall receive a blessing from the LORD And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
6 This is the generation of those who seek Him, Who seek Your face -even Jacob. Selah.
7 Lift up your heads, O gates, And be lifted up, O ancient doors, That the King of glory may come in!
8 Who is the King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, The LORD mighty in battle.
9 Lift up your heads, O gates, And lift them up, O ancient doors, That the King of glory may come in!
10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah. (Psalm 24)
This psalm begins with an introduction of God as Jehovah. The Hebrew name Jehovah means “the Self-Existing One“. This means that God exists in Himself. He is not dependent upon any outside source. He does not need time, space, or matter to exist. He does not depend on oxygen or food or water. He is self-contained. This is important because if and when He interacts with His creation, it is always for the good of His creation. He does not benefit from the interaction, His creation does. God is the Creator and everything that He creates belongs to Him, including human beings. That is why in verse five, the King David uses the Hebrew word “Elohim” to describe God. The name Elohim means “the All-Powerful Creator God“. According to verses seven and nine, this Jehovah – Elohim is the King of Glory who will one day return to the earth and dwell among His people. During the First Advent, He did return to dwell among His people for a short time. Then, He was crucified by His own creation, was buried, and rose again. Right before ascending into heaven, He promised to return again one day. All of this was done, is done, and will be done for the benefit of His creation. What are those benefits? When we connect with our All-Powerful Creator God, we receive a pure heart. This is important because we are not born with a pure heart, we have to receive one. God is the only One who can change mankind’s wicked, sinful heart. He promises to do so and He is able to do so. We live in the presence of the Lord now as we await His Second Advent. Christmas is a beautiful reminder of this each year as we celebrate the First Advent and proclaim the Second Advent. While we live in between the First Advent and the Second Advent, we have the opportunity to live out the righteousness of God. The word righteous means “to be right in the eyes of God according to God’s standards“. I cannot live a righteous life before the Lord on my own strength. All that I can do is surrender to God, receive His righteousness, and live according to His Word each day. That is a benefit that humanity receives because of the First Advent. Praise the Lord for the First Advent of the Lord! Praise the Lord for His Second Advent. God has done His part and He will continue to do His part. The ball is in our court right now as we live in the time between the First Advent and the Second Advent. Are you looking forward to the Second Advent of the King of Glory? How are you living each day as you patiently await the King of Glory’s Second Advent?
II. Isaiah wrote of the Advent of the King of Glory
The prophet Isaiah lived about six hundred years before the First Advent. He lived during a very difficult time in Israel. The people had turned away from the Lord and fallen on tough times. They had made their own bed and were in the midst of sleeping in them. Times were tough. The future looked bleak. In the midst of this, God sent a Word to the prophet Isaiah to speak out about the Advent of the King of Glory.
10 Then the LORD spoke again to Ahaz, saying,
11 “Ask a sign for yourself from the LORD your God; make it deep as Sheol or high as heaven.”
12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, nor will I test the LORD!”
13 Then he said, “Listen now, O house of David! Is it too slight a thing for you to try the patience of men, that you will try the patience of my God as well?
14 “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7)
As Isaiah writes down this Word from the Lord, he uses two Hebrew names that we covered in the previous section. The King of Glory who is going to return to the earth is Jehovah-Elohim. If you study the Old Testament closely, there are about three hundred Messianic prophecies that deal with the First Advent of the King of Glory. Jesus fulfills all of them. It was foretold through the prophets of old that the Messiah (Christ) would be born from the seed of woman (without the help of a man) or in other words, a virgin birth. When we refer to seed in the Bible, the seed always refers to men yet in this case, in Genesis, chapter three, God speaks plainly to Eve, that the male that will come through her will crush the head of the serpent. The seed of Adam, or help from a human father would not be needed for the birth of the Messiah. I do not want to cover all 300 of them but just a few will be enough. Another prophecy was that the Messiah would be of the lineage of Abraham (from the Hebrews). Mary, the mother of Jesus, was of the nation of Israel, of Abraham’s lineage. Another prophecy is that the Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah and be born in the town of Bethlehem. Jesus fulfilled all these requirements upon His birth. Some people like to claim that Jesus retrospectively fulfilled all of these prophecies. The major problem with that line of thinking is that Jesus did not chose several things upon His birth. He did not choose the time, the location, the family, nor His sex. The prophet Isaiah reveals to us that the name of the Messiah is Emmanuel, which means “God with us“. The First Advent is the time when God came to the earth to dwell among His people. At the Second Advent, God, the King of Glory, will once again dwell among His creation on the earth. As we wait for the Second Advent, we are not to test the patience of God. The children of Israel tested the patience of God by disobeying Him. The same is true for us today. When we disobey the Word of God we test the patience of the Lord. During this age of mercy and grace, as we wait for the Second Advent, are you testing the patience of the Lord?
III. The Shepherds witnessed the First Advent
I love how God works among ordinary people. In many places in the Bible, God has taken ordinary people and equipped them to do extraordinary things. It does not matter what your lot in life is, God wants to connect with you and use you to accomplish His extraordinary will. You would think the first birth announcement that God would make after the birth of the Messiah would be to kings and world leaders. That is the way that we think. God’s thoughts and ways are vastly different from ours. God does send out a birth announcement but, He sends it to shepherds.
8 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;
11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2)
These ordinary men were out doing an ordinary job. This night was supposed to be like all other nights, punching the clock, doing the work, and then going home just to get ready to do it all over again. This night was different though. God announces the First Advent to these simple men. Their response was the same response that most of us would have if we were going through the motions of our daily job. They were terribly frightened. The phrase “terribly frightened” in Greek is “mega phobia“. Do you have a mega phobia of anything, like maybe snakes or spiders? How do you react when one surprises you out of nowhere? Now you know how the shepherds felt. The First Advent of the Messiah is not something that should strike fear in us. It is good news for all of us. The word Gospel means good news. The long promised and awaited Messiah finally arrived. The First Advent does not bring judgment so there is no need to fear. The First Advent brings salvation. The First Advent gives mankind the opportunity to experience the mercy and grace of God. The mega phobia does exist for those who do not make peace with God between the First and Second Advent because at the Second Advent, the Messiah will return to judge and punish.
12 “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” (Luke 2)
After delivering the good news to the shepherds in the fields, the angel along with a heavenly host began to praise God because peace was available between God and man, as well as between man and man. We all seek peace. We want it at work. We desire it at home. We want it in the entire world. World peace begins with mankind making peace with God and that was made possible because of the First Advent.
15 When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.”
16 So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.
17 When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.
18 And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.
20 The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them. (Luke 2)
The shepherds ran as fast as they could to see the Messiah. They witnessed the First Advent firsthand. It changed their lives. They went from fear and terror to glorifying and praising God. This is why we celebrate the First Advent year after year. We are reminded that we can make peace with God and that peace with God will lead to peace with each other. It is definitely good news. The King of Glory came and dwelt among His creation. The King of Glory will one day return and dwell among His creation. Are you ready for that day? Have you made peace with God. Do you need to make peace with others?
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