Many of us grew up with the story of Advent beginning in a stable. But, the story begins in a Garden.
When God created the world, all things were just as they should be. Creation functioned in perfect order and moved in seamless harmony. Man walked in unbroken relationship with God, fully known and unafraid. But in an instant, all that changed as Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s good instruction. They took of the fruit, ate, and sin entered the world. Fellowship broken. Peace shattered. Creation thrown into chaos. Darkness, depravity, fear, shame and selfishness flooded the human heart, separating man from God. The situation was dire.
But right then, amid the darkness, God spoke a word of hope: a Savior would come, born of a woman, to defeat the enemy and deliver God’s people.
However, God did not send Jesus to rescue His people right away. God waited thousands of years to send the Rescuer. During that time, God’s people faced many hard things. While they waited, throughout the Old Testament, God spoke to His people about this promise and gave them things to watch for in order to recognize the Savior’s coming. There were hints and shadows of Him everywhere. He also reminded His people not to lose heart as they waited for their Savior to come. So they spoke of the promised Rescuer from generation to generation, enduring cycles of war, rebellion, captivity and restoration. But the as the years went by, the wait got harder… Some days, God’s children waited patiently for God to keep His promise. Some days, they waited with tears and frustration. Some days, they wondered if God had forgotten His promise. But God continued to whisper it over and over again as His children waited. And one day, when no one was expecting it, Jesus would come.
We can all identify with feeling hopeless and helpless, especially when it comes to the weight of sin. Heavy and inescapable, we know its effects with every breath – both our own sin and that of others. Our world is full of evidence that something is wrong and needs to be made right. The reason we celebrate Advent is because the story of the Garden doesn’t end with man’s rebellion. God makes a promise, and, as we’ll see in the weeks to come, He keeps it perfectly.
ISAIAH 9:2-7, ESV
2 The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.
3 You have multiplied the nation;
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
4 For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff for his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
5 For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire.
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon[d] his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of 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.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.