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.
Wednesday, December 5, 2018
The Prophecy Candle - December 5, 2018 - Advent Midweek 1 - Text: Isaiah 9:6-7a
Our text for this evening is from Isaiah chapter nine, 6For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore (Isaiah 9:6-7). This is our text.
Every year during the season of Advent I invite the children to come forward during the children’s message and we talk about the Advent wreath. Each Sunday we talk about the different candles and the meaning of each one. This year during the Wednesday services we will talk about the Advent wreath and what each candle represents, but we will do so for the rest of us, the adults of the congregation. We will learn to use the Advent Wreath in our own preparation to celebrate the greatest birth and gift to mankind.
We begin talking about the advent wreath by recognizing that it has a circular base reminding us that God is Eternal. Just as a circle has no beginning and no endings so our God has no beginning, He was not created and no ending, He is eternal. Indeed, as we know our God does not live in the past nor in the future, but He lives in the eternal present, as His name is I Am, thus we might use the circle to symbolize His eternal existence.
The greenery of the advent wreath reminds us that God is alive. As we might look at a lawn that is brown or a tree that has brown leaves and surmise that it is dead, so as we look at a green lawn or a green tree we might surmise that they are alive. So it is with God, the green of the Advent wreath reminds us that we worship, not a dead God, but a living God.
The four candles of the advent wreath, along with the middle candle count for the four Sundays of Advent, counting the weeks and days till Christmas. Each week of Advent we light another candle until we reach Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the night and day we light the center candle celebrating the birth of the One Promised, the Savior, Jesus.
The first candle that we light is called the Prophecy Candle. I often call this the promise candle because that is what God’s prophecy concerning the coming Messiah, Savior, Christ, is God’s promise to send a Savior. Thus, the first candle points us back to the Garden of Eden and man’s sin. In the beginning God created all things out of nothing and everything that God created was good. On the last day of creation God looked at all that He created and said that it was very good. Indeed, all that God created was perfect.
The first candle points us back to God’s first prophecy, His promise of a Savior, for all people. Although all that God created was good, very good and perfect, when we get to Genesis chapter three and the account moves from the history of God’s creating work to the history of human beings we hear how Eve and Adam fall for the lies of the father of lies, Satan himself. They disobey God and sin, eating from the forbidden fruit the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the midst of the Garden. Although God’s command and warning was that they were not to eat of the fruit with the punishment of death, and by death God meant physical, bodily death and apart from Jesus death would also mean eternal spiritual death, or hell. Although God had given them His command and warning they did eat and they brought death into the once perfect world. Thanks be to God that He immediately stepped in and promised a solution, to send a Savior, a Messiah, One who would suffer the punishment for their sin for them, in their place, as their substitute.
The first candle also points us to Abraham, Moses, Jacob, Judah, David, and so forth. We are pointed to these men of faith throughout the Old Testament as God reiterated His promise to them that the Savior, the Messiah would be born through their line of descent.
The first candle points us to Isaiah and our text. 6For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore (Isaiah 9:6-7).
The prophet Isaiah tells us that the Savior promised in the Garden of Eden, reiterated to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, King David and so on, would be born as a human being and born under the law. In other words, the Savior would be born to be our substitute doing for us what we are unable to do, be perfect. As God’s command in Eden was perfection and because Eve and Adam sinned and brought imperfection, so the Savior would come and live in perfection for us, in our place, as our substitute, thus fulfilling God’s first command.
Not only would the Savior be born as a human He would also be born as God. Isaiah points not only to the Savior’s earthly life but also to His heavenly, everlasting rule. The Savior would be truly human to be our substitute, but truly God to be perfect, holy and eternal.
The Savior would be of royal blood, yet not in order rule on earth, but to rule in heaven for eternity. The Savior would be born and live under the Law, perfectly obeying the Law, for us in our place. The Savior would bring, establish and uphold justice and righteousness which He would do by shedding His blood for the sins of the world. Remember, the price for sin was set at death, thus the Savior would have to suffer death in order to reconcile us for the price for our sins.
Finally, ultimately the Savior will rule in heaven for eternity. The promised Savior would be born of the earthly line of King David and King Solomon, indeed born of royal blood. Yet His was not to be an earthly kingdom. He was not born as a social/political Savior, but a Savior from sin, a spiritual/eternal life Savior. His birth was never for earthly rule, but always for heavenly rule.
Advent is the season and the time for getting ready. We are getting ready for a great and grand celebration. As someone once said, we do not plan to fail but we often fail to plan. When we are having a grand celebration we begin by planning and the better we plan the better the celebration. The Advent Wreath helps us in our planning. The Advent Wreath helps us remember the history and reason to celebrate Christmas.
The Advent Wreath helps us prepare our hearts and minds to celebrate. The Prophecy Candle, or as I like to call it, the Promise Candle and I like to call it the Promise Candle because not everyone knows or understands what prophecy is, and what it is, is God’s promise of future event, anyway the Prophecy Candle reminds us of our first parents and their sin. It therefore reminds us of our sin and the reason Jesus had to be born, for us. We are conceived and born in sin. Every intention of our heart are evil all the time. Yet, because of God’s great love for us He sent a Savior to live for us, to take our sins and to suffer and pay the price for our sins.
Preparation and taking time to prepare is important. Just as God took time to prepare to send Jesus so we take the time to prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth. From the time of God’s first promise to send a Savior, God waited some four to six thousand years. God wanted to make sure everything was just right and it was. Jesus was born at just the right time. All history that pointed to Jesus was in just the right place. So, we take the time. We plan. We prepare. Especially we prepare our hearts and minds for our celebration.
And finally, we will celebrate. We will celebrate the birth of the One promised so long ago, the One promised immediately after Eve and Adam sinned, the One promised and the promise reiterated throughout Old Testament history. We celebrate the birth of the One who would live for us, a perfect life, perfectly obeying all God’s Laws and Commands. We celebrate the birth of the One who took our sins and suffered the punishment which should have been ours, for us, in our place so that we do not have to suffer. We celebrate the good gifts and blessings He has earned for and given to us; faith, forgiveness, life and salvation. And what a great and grand celebration it will be a celebration lasting twelve days.
As we have lighted the first Advent candle may we be reminded once again of the words of Isaiah the prophet, “6For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore (Isaiah 9:6-7). We rejoice and give thanks to our great God for the gift of His Son, our great God and Savior, Christ the Lord. To Him be the glory for Jesus’ sake. Amen.