You can describe the Advent Season by using this simple phrase: a coming or an arrival. But it really means more than that single phrase alone can tell. Merriam-Webster actually defines Advent as: An arrival that has been awaited; especially something that is momentous. I like that! It's more than just a normal, average, coming, or arrival. It's a long-awaited, greatly expected, monumental one! Can you feel the tension and excitement in that description? The amazing thing the Bible does is that it allows us to discover a gradual revealing of this long-expected coming throughout its pages. Let's start at the beginning and experience Advent as it unfolds.
It all began with perfection.
Adam and Eve created to live in perfection with God and all creation. They with him and he with them. Walking and talking and communing with one another.
We catch a small glimpse of the depth of their relationship when the Bible reveals that Adam and Eve were so accustomed to God’s presence, that they knew the sound of his footsteps.
He with them. They with him. Knowing one another in perfect unity.
But sin entered to mar the perfection and separation from God would now become their familiar. Banished from the Garden to protect against eternal estrangement and weighted down with the consequences of disobedience, Adam and Eve were given this hope: God spoke that a child from their union would come. This child would have his heel bruised but would one day, ultimately, crush the enemy that had been set loose.
Adam and Eve heard and believed. So, they waited.
So, they waited.
Time goes on and God calls a man named Abram to go to a place that Abram did not know of. On the journey, God promises to give him a great name, Abraham, make a great nation out of his descendants, and that through his people all the world would be blessed. Abraham heard and believed. So, he waited.
That great nation multiplies and endures, and God delivers them from even greater enslavement and oppression to bring them through the desert to the mountain of Sinai. Here, through given instructions to the prophet Moses, God designs a tabernacle to be built. A dwelling for his presence to reside called The Most Holy Place. God, manifested in smoke and fire, would be their God and they would be his people.
And once again, God dwells with man.
But the constant shedding of blood and the rituals of sacrifice serve only as a daily reminder that this is not the Garden, and that this dwelling is not the same.
So, they waited.
The Bible continues and every page and every story speak of something greater that is to come. A Messiah, a Deliverer that would one day claim every spoken promise and fill the longing within the hearts of those dedicated to the LORD.
Hebrews tells us that those longing for the promise died in their faith believing, looking forward to that something greater.
They heard and believed.
So, they waited.
Hundreds of years roll by and Matthew bursts on the scene with the momentous news that the "virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and they will call him Immanuel". The day had finally arrived that all had longed for and all the earth rejoices as God is with us once again.
Not in cloud or smoke or glory hovering over the altar, but as a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.
The Bible reveals that this baby, Jesus Christ, grew into a man. He lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death, was buried, and then miraculously raised back to life.
Then the agonizing happens.
Jesus turns to his disciples, instructs them to spread the news of his life, death, and resurrection so all the world may hear and believe. He promises to return one day and then leaves the earth, he leaves his followers, to ascend back to heaven.
And they stood and waited.
The Bible is very clear. It tells us that Christ's death was our healing and that because of this gift we can now have peace with God as we are reconciled back into his glorious presence.
But it is still not the same.
There is no walking and talking in the cool of the Garden. There is no familiar sound of his presence. There is no he with us, us with him.
Oh, yes, I know what it is to spend time with God. I understand how I allow him to move, guide, lead, and direct my life. I know that he will never leave or forsake me.
But I admit that it's not the same as if I could see him, hear his voice or touch him. I long for that. My heart aches for that. So, I wait.
I wait. You wait. We all wait. Just like the disciples did and all those who came before us. We wait, but not without hope for we know, just as they did, that something greater is coming. We can wait, celebrating the first coming, sharing the story of that first Advent that brought light into darkness, as we anxiously wait for the second.
We wait, celebrating the First, while we anxiously look for the Second.
Revelation tells us what that second Advent will be like. Read along with me.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. Rev. 21:3 (emphasis mine)
No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face.. and they will reign forever and ever. Rev. 22:3-5 (emphasis mine)
One day there will be no more waiting for we will be with him and he with us and we shall see his face forever. One day every tear will be wiped away and all things made new. One day the old order and curse will be forever removed.
One day will be here one day. But, for now, we wait.