December 1, 2013
Often we see a day in the future to which we look forward. There is a heightened sense of anticipation or expectation because it is a specific day. Think about this. On my 15th birthday, I remember getting up, not thinking, “I’m 15 today,” but, “One year from today, I’ll be 16.” I thought, “I wish today were my 16th birthday instead of my 15th!” Back in those days, 16 was the magic age to get a learner’s permit to drive, and then 30 days later take a driver’s test for a license. That must have been the longest year of my life! Every day that year, I looked forward to my next birthday, which I knew was coming—though it was slow coming!
The days of Advent are upon us. The church eagerly has been anticipating these days—maybe since last Advent. They call us to look forward to a specific day, namely Dec. 25, which marks the birthday of Christ; they also call us to look forward to days that are to come—not just a day but days.
Isaiah noted this at the beginning of his prophesy to a nation on the brink of destruction—a destruction it had brought upon itself. Soon Judah and Jerusalem would be moved into exile for 70 years in Babylon as a result of its abandonment of the Lord. God’s judgment is certain, and there is nothing that can be done but make the best of it.
God’s judgment is tempered by hope, which is one of the classic themes of Advent. So Isaiah offered hope by challenging Yahweh followers in every age to look forward to the days to come, implying an unending time of rest, joy and peace. There are plenty of reasons to look forward to those days as indicated by the ancient sage.
The Lord’s House Will Be the House
In biblical times, before the Advent of Christ, temples were described as the houses in which the gods dwelt. Jerusalem is often represented metaphorically as the universal mountain to which all nations will stream for instruction, which includes judgment and hope. Many churches will hang greenery today to symbolize that days are upon us to prepare for the day of Christmas. It’s hoped that all churches during Advent and beyond will see they are houses of the Lord to which people will stream for instruction, especially Yahweh followers.
There are many places to which people can go for instruction of some sort—stadiums, theaters, coliseums, lecture halls, bars, etc. The church offers something better. That does not mean good and godly things can’t be offered in the aforementioned places—even a bar! However, houses of the Lord offer the reality that better days are coming, where one can be encouraged to live with hope, even the midst of hard times and judgment.
When people see church facilities, what do they see? Hopefully they see places of the Lord where the Lord’s people are being instructed to be the people of God and the days to come are being lived out in the present moment.
Those Days Will Be Days of Everlasting Peace
During those days, war will come to an end. Talk about looking forward to days to come! Just looking forward to the day when there will be no more weapons of destruction, no more violence in any form, and no more hatred is almost enough; but almost is not enough.
The challenge is to work toward that day, those days today and every day as we await the Second Advent of Jesus Christ, who is the Prince of Peace.
During Advent let the church of Jesus Christ look forward to the days to come by living with the belief that those days can begin right now.