This Sunday marked the start of the Advent season, and even though my lifelong stance has been that Christmas celebrations should wait until December, you just can’t argue with the liturgical calendar. (Actually, you can, and a lot of Protestant denominations have, but that’s beside the point.)
Each Sunday of Advent has a different theme or focus, and this week we talked about Hope.
As I was studying for my sermon, reading scripture, and praying for our church, I was struck with the fact that over and over again in the Bible, God gives His people something to hope in. He really is a God of hope.
When he first spoke to Abram in Genesis 12, he promised that Abram would become the father to nations, and that the whole world would be blessed because of his family.
When the people of Israel were enslaved in Egypt, God used Moses to come and bring a message of deliverance and freedom, and to remind them that God hadn’t forgotten his promise to them.
Moses led them toward the promised land, and Joshua assured them that it would be theirs.
And even after Israel fell to the Assyrians, God sent another message of hope through the prophet Isaiah:
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned…For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on 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 David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing it and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. (Is. 9:1, 6-7)
To a nation that had been overrun, scattered, and oppressed, this was an incredible message of hope. They were being reminded, once again, that God had not abandoned them. He still loved them, had plans for them, and was going to send them a savior.
And then he did. (Spoiler alert: Jesus was the fulfillment of this prophecy.)
And since God doesn’t change, he is still a God of hope. Let me show you two passages that provide hope for us today:
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me, so that you also may be where I am. (John 14:1-3)
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4)
Yeah, I like that. And I look forward to the day when those words of scripture become a reality. I look forward eagerly to those events coming to pass. I know that God is honest, and faithful, and good.
And his words give me hope.