As you likely know, the word “advent” is from Latin, meaning “to come to”. And the season preceding Christmas is traditionally used to cultivate a time of expectant waiting for Christmas Day – the day celebrating the coming of the Christ child! As the angel announced, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).
And so we sing, “O come O come Emmanuel. And ransom captive Israel!”
Emmanuel. God with us! Our Savior became at Christmas one of us forevermore! He is “the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29), delivering us from the sin and bondage of this world, the flesh, and the devil!
A few mornings ago, I was gazing out across a field at the most glorious sunrise I can remember! The clouds were moving in the wind and varied across the horizon from one end to the other. As the sun slowly rose, it spread a most marvelous range of vivid colors from right to left amongst the moving clouds, changing the panorama moment by moment and casting the entire color spectrum through the clouds, set in changing shades of blue sky!
I stood there, soaking-in the glorious sunrise with awe and appreciation for the wondrous beauty from our great Creator! And it occurred to me that we not only have the wonderful promises from his First Advent. But we also, in God’s plan, have the especially awesome and marvelous promises for the Second Advent of Christ! He will be coming in His glorified body in clouds of glory such that “every eye shall see him” (Revelation 1:7), and with Him will be His “reward…to give to every man…” (Revelation 22:12)! What a wonderful and inspiring hope this is for those who by faith are His children and bride whom He dearly loves, and on whose behalf He is coming!
In a sense, the last 2,000 years have been an Advent season for another Christmas day! This time, His day of coming will be in the clouds (Daniel 7:13, Matthew 24:30, Mark 13:26, Acts 1:11, Revelation 1:7). This hope and focus we are exhorted to keep within us (1 John 3:2-3). And we are getting closer and closer to that very day! The Bible teaches that salvation is at once past, present and future. Time marches on toward its “fullness”. Prophecy gets fulfilled. And our Holy Maker will complete His plan for our salvation!
“For the earnest expectation (anxious longing) of the creature (creation) waits for the manifestation…Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God…even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:19-23).
The whole of creation, including other “creatures”, will be liberated from the corruption and decay of this present evil age. The curse will be reversed. And Eden will be restored! Animals and people will all, once again, be living together in harmony (Isaiah 11:6-9). There will likely be abundant opportunity for those of us who enjoy pets and animals to experience added joy after the Second Advent of Christ!
The Bible exhorts us to abide in faith, hope, and love – and the joy that they produce! This is especially clear at Christmas. The incarnation of God the Son, surrounded by its wonders and miracles, solidifies the great “hope of salvation” – the promise of God to ultimately and finally deliver us from sin and death and from all evil! “In him (the “Word made flesh”) was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in the darkness” (John 1:4-5).
“Darkness” embodies this present corruption of God’s original “moral” order. Note that the word “moral” has the same root as “morale”, which is the Latin word “moralis”. So, the practice and proclamation of immorality (i.e., de-“moralizing” a person) leads also to “demoralizing” in its usual sense of losing hope, becoming discouraged and disheartened. This is all the work of the world, the flesh and the devil, those great repositories of evil. God, on the other hand, always penetrates the darkness with His light and glory – with His infinite goodness, truth and morality!
Thus, as the great Christmas carol, “O Little Town of Bethlehem”, puts it:
“Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light;
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”
We were made for union with our Maker. And “the earnest expectation” about “the light” is that “in the fullness of time” there is coming a complete cleansing and deliverance! That is why the next-to-last verse of the entire Bible is yet another wonderful mention of the Second Advent of Christ: “Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
We have “joy unspeakable and full of glory” ahead of us! We have reward ahead of us! In the meantime, we have God’s work and plan for us here!
“God bless you! And Merry Christmas! “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”