Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Sunday, December 2, 2018
The Days Are Coming - December 2, 2018 - First Sunday in Advent - Text: Jeremiah 33:14-16
Happy New Year! And no, I am not crazy, forgetful, nor absentminded. Today is the first Sunday of our New church year and the beginning of Advent. Advent, you might remember, is the season of preparation. Advent is the time of the church year that we get ready to celebrate the birth of our Savior, which we do not do until Christmas morning. Unfortunately, we live in a society that likes to jump the gun and celebrate before the time to celebrate. I would remind you that the twelve days of Christmas begin with Christmas and the celebration lasts for twelve days, until we celebrate Epiphany and the visit of the Magi, but let us get back to today.
If you ever attend a movie, or even if you rent a movie you know that before the movie starts you will be inundated with twenty or more minutes of previews, what are known as trailers for movies that will be coming soon. The reason for this pre-movie ritual is to get you interested in what movie is coming out next so you will want to return to the theater, pay more money and see the next movie. And it works. As our interest is peaked, we do plan to see the next movie.
In His word, God does not give us a trailer of things to come, but He does give us His Word of promise and prophecy concerning what He has in store for us. Of course, God’s intent is not to draw us in to sell us something, rather His intent is to draw us in so that He might give us the gifts He has to give, forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. As we begin this new Church year and as we begin this season of Advent we already know what is going to be happening, because we have been down this road before, we have already celebrated what we are about to celebrate. While already knowing might make it more difficult to rein in our enthusiasm and our desire to jump straight to the celebration, it will serve us well to take the time and use the time of advent for what it is intended, to spend our time getting ready.
The context of advent is the fall into sin in Genesis, in the Garden of Eden and the promise of a Savior. Remember, when God created the world, He created all things good and very good, meaning everything was perfect. In chapter three of Genesis, when man begins running the show that is when sin enters, we loose free will, and God has to step back in to fix what man broke. Immediately after Eve and Adam sinned God promise to send a Savior to restore the broken relationship between Himself and His creation. And remember, when God made this promise there was only Adam and Eve, there was not a Jew or Gentile, thus this promise was made for all people of all places of all times.
Throughout history, time and again God reiterated the promise of a Savior. At one point in history God narrowed the family line through which the Savior would be born. From all the people of the earth, by His grace, God chose Abram whom He renamed Abraham, to be the family through which the Savior of all would be born. God narrowed that line through Jacob and through Judah and then through Mary and Joseph.
As time passed by, some three thousand years or so, the people to whom the promise was made became apathetic in waiting. By the time Jesus was born, many of the religious leaders had reinterpreted the promise to be a social/political promise of deliverance from their enemies. Thus, too many missed Jesus’ birth. After Jesus accomplished His work of salvation, He promised He would return on the last day. To date we have waited some two thousand years and as in Jesus’ day, so today, too many have become apathetic in waiting.
In our text we hear God’s Word of reiteration concerning His first coming, “14Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness” (v. 14-16).
Our Lord tells His people, He tells us, the days are coming, the Savior will be born. These words are spoken almost six hundred years before Jesus’ birth and some twenty- five hundred years after the first promise in the Garden of Eden.
At this time, the time of our text, the Lord narrows the promise. He tells us that the Savior will be born of the house of Judah and from the line of David. Interestingly enough, these words gave evidence for those of Jesus’ day and for us today that Jesus is indeed the One promised as He was from the line of Judah and from the line of David.
What might have seemed like a long time for God to fulfill His promise to send a Savior and what might appear like a long time for us today to wait for His second coming waiting does not indicate that God is slow or forgetful. Rather, God’s time reminds us of God’s patience and love for us, wanting to give as much time as possible for as many people as possible to come to faith. As we begin this advent season we are encouraged to take to time to prepare ourselves before jumping to our celebration.
Thus, as we look at the world of old, we can see many similarities to our own world. As the adage states, “If you do not know your history you are doomed to repeat it,” and so today, it would appear that often times we are repeating history. Just as the children of Israel grew impatient and apathetic towards the first coming of the Messiah, so many in our world today have given up faith in Jesus, in the God of Holy Scriptures and instead have created their own new gods in their own image, idols and aberrations intended to satiated their appetites and desires. We want a god who will be like us, who will think like us, who will answer us according to what we want to hear and who will act according to our own time, that is why it is an idol and the bottom line is our idol is simply that we worship ourselves. We become as the new Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes.
The people of the world today have a hard time worshiping the God of the Bible, because He is not like the pop culture god of our secular society, thus we see churches and denominations look and act like the culture and believing themselves to be pleasing to God. Yes, it is getting more and more difficult to be a Christian, a true Christian in our world today because the world has traded in the God of the Bible for other gods and idols who are not god. One such example being the desire for a utopia society here on earth, instead of looking forward to perfection in heaven.
But, getting back to us, those of us who continue, as many in Jesus’ day, to wait patiently for Jesus’ return. Even we have a tendency today to want to skip the preparation for Christmas. We have a tendency to skip advent and go straight to our Christmas celebration. Again, as I said earlier and as I am sure to repeat many times during this Advent season, Christmas does not begin until Christmas morning or Christmas Eve and then we celebrate for twelve days, the twelve days of Christmas, until Epiphany and our celebration of the visit of the Magi, the first gentiles to see the baby Jesus.
And, just as unfortunate as our wanting to skip preparing ourselves for the Lord, for our celebration of His first coming, we tend to fail in our getting ready for His second coming. Our actions show that we truly do not believe our Lord will return, at least not anytime soon, or at least not during our own lifetime. Instead of getting ourselves ready, instead of making time for what is important, we busy ourselves with the things of this world, we find more important things to do than be in divine service and Bible class. We rationalize that since the Lord has not yet returned, perhaps He will tarry even longer and maybe even not return in our own lifetime.
Ours might be compared to an attitude of wanting to go straight to opening gifts. We do not want to get ourselves ready, but we think that because we have been baptized, because we have been confirmed, then we are ready. Our attitude might be one of, “Let’s get to the presents,” “Let’s get to the joy of heaven.”
Certainly we may not all look forward to our own passing from this world, and in like manner to the Lord’s return, but we do desire to one day be in heaven. We do not want to wait until Christmas, but we do want the presents of Christmas.
This morning, as we begin a new Church year, as we begin the season of Advent we need once again to be reminded that advent is a time of preparation. In much the same way as music, sports, and other things worth doing right are worth preparing for, so doing Christmas right, means preparing for it.
In the Garden of Eden God promised to send a Savior. Although Eve believed her first son was the fulfillment of God’s promise, God did not fulfill His promise until some three thousand years later. And during that three thousand year wait, God prepared. He prepared the world, both His people and the secular world. God prepared the world so that at just the right time He sent His Son. Yes, even for us, even for our celebrating Jesus’ birth, this celebration is worth preparing for and taking the time to get ready.
As we celebrate Jesus first coming, so we also continue to get ourselves ready for Jesus’ second coming. Yes, God has waited two thousand years, but that does not mean He will wait another thousand years. We do not know the day or the hour, but we do know that it will be when He is ready, when we are prepared. Until He returns, we continue getting ready, that is we continue making use of those means He has of getting us ready, His means of grace. And we continue rejoicing in and sharing the gifts He has given to us, faith, forgiveness and life and a right and renewed relationship with Himself purchased by Jesus’ on the cross.
The Lord is coming, not to a theater near you, but to you, in your heart, in your mind and in your soul. He has redeemed you a lost and condemned person. He has purchased and won you from sin, death and the devil. He has made you His own and He has so much He wants to give to you, gifts, talents, abilities, faith, forgiveness and life, even eternal life. Now more than ever, as each day and each year passes, we are drawn one more year, even one more day closer to His return so we are ever, constantly preparing ourselves to meet Him on that blessed day. Come Lord Jesus, come quickly. To God be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.