Advent 2010: Hope
December 5, 2010 Series: Advent 2010
Topic: Stand Alone
Today we begin a short sermon series on Advent. . For most of us when we hear the word Advent we remember those calendars that we would receive as kids that helped us count down the 24 days before Christmas. It was a usually a large card calendar that had 24 little windows that you would open on each of the days preceding Christmas. Usually there would be a small picture of the nativity or poem, and if it was a really good advent calendar there would be a piece of chocolate behind the window as well. Growing up in my house with seven brothers and three sisters I don’t think that there was a single year that multiple windows didn’t get opened up early.
Advent is a word that describes a period of waiting or expectation. As Christians, Advent reminds us of the original waiting that was done by the Hebrews for the birth of our Messiah, as well as the waiting of Christians for the Second Coming of Christ. It’s also the time of waiting that we experience now as we anticipate the celebration of the birth of our savior Jesus Christ. The series will be broken up into four sermons based on Hope, Love, Peace, and Joy. This morning we lit the candle of Hope and will be focusing on the hope that the Old Testament saints had in the promise of the coming messiah or redeemer and how that gives us hope in the promises that God has for us today.
The Reason Hope Is Needed
When God first created man in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve lived in perfect relationship with God, each other and the rest of creation. There was no death in their world, pain or sorrow were unknown by them. Everything that God had created He deemed “good”, and all things lived according to the perfect order that God had established. Things would have continued this way indefinitely if sin had not entered into the garden through the disobedience of Adam and Eve. It was through their sin of eating of the one fruit that was forbidden them that death entered into the world and the perfect life they had been experiencing came crashing to an end. A life that had been lived in total innocence was replaced by an awareness of guilt; that they had rebelled against their creator by listening to and believing the words of Satan who came to them in the form of a serpent instead of believing and trusting in their creator. With this came an awareness of their nakedness and they hastened to cover themselves with fig leaves and when they heard God’s voice again they hid themselves among the trees of the garden. After a short conversation with God about their fall during which they admit their disobedience and where Eve blames the serpent and Adam blames Eve, God curses the serpent for his part condemning it to live its life eating dust while slithering around on its belly. This is when Adam and Eve hear the gospel for the first time. In Genesis 3:15 God tells the serpent: 15I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring[e] and(M) her offspring;
(N) he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel."
I like the way it’s written in the NIV:
This is the first promise we have from God that one would be born from Eve who would crush the head of the serpent. This promise is often referred to as the “Protoevangelium”, which means “first gospel”. This promise is fulfilled thousands of years later when Christ is crucified, buried and resurrected from the grave. By dying on the cross and rising from the dead, Christ atoned for the sin of Adam and Eve and in so doing he crushed the head of the serpent defeating Satan forever. But in the process, Christ suffered much in his humanity and received the bruising of his heel that we read about here in Genesis.
Now obviously we can read this verse and understand what it means because we know how the rest of the story unfolds through what the rest of the bible tells us, but Adam and Eve didn’t have that benefit and so all they really had was this one promise to cling to. There was much about the coming savior that they didn’t know. All they knew was that a savior would come through the woman and that there would be enmity between her offspring and the offspring of the serpent, who was simply an instrument of the devil. Enmity simply means a feeling or condition of hostility; hatred; ill will; animosity; antagonism.
It is interesting to note that already, there in the Garden of Eden, blood had to be shed because of sin. Verse 21 tells us that 21And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. Adam and Eve tried to cover their nakedness with the work of their own hands by sewing fig leaves together. Foreshadowing the shedding of blood by Christ on the cross, an animal is slain and it’s blood shed so it’s skin could be used to cover Adam and Eve. This is a spiritual picture of man’s attempt to cover his sin by his own effort. As children of Adam, it’s remarkable how similar we are first of all by attempting to hide when we sin and secondly by try to dress ourselves with our own righteousness to cover our sin instead of the righteousness of Christ. Luckily for us, just as he did for Adam, God shows amazing grace and strips us of our own inadequate dress and clothes us with the robes that Christ earned for us by his sinless life and sacrificial death.
It’s fair to say that they had no idea how long it would be before this savior would come, but they believed in the promise of God and thus they lived and were saved by grace through faith, with the hope and expectation that God would deliver on his promise to them. Though Adam lived 930 years, he did not see the day the promise was finally revealed.
Throughout the pages of the Old Testament, as the history of God’s people is lived out, we see more and more detail given as to the circumstances of the birth, life, and death of the messiah. God is continually declaring whose lineage the promise will be carried out through. From Shem, the son of Noah, to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Judah, Boaz, Jesse, David, Solomon, on and on for generations and generations the birth of the messiah gets closer and closer. Through the prophets God reveals details about the birth, life and death of the coming Christ that are so particular that it seems impossible that anyone could get it wrong.
About a thousand years before Christ, lived King David of Israel through who was promised that Christ would come. This is what God told David through the prophet Nathan:
11When your days are fulfilled to walk with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. 12He shall build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. 13(E) I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. I will not take my steadfast love from him,(F) as I took it from him who was before you, 14but I will confirm him in my house and in my kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever.' 1 Chr. 17:11-14
Not only was David arguably the best king Israel ever had, but he also prophesied much about the hope of Israel through his Psalms.
- In Psalm 72: 10-11 he prophecies that he would be paid tribute and given gifts by kings from the east. We know them as the three wise men.
- Ps. 2:7 – Declared the Beloved Son
- Ps. 8:2 – That he would be praised out of the mouth of babes and infants.
- Ps. 16:10 – That he would not see corruption.
- Ps. 45:2 – That words of grace would pour from his lips.
- Ps. 78:1,2 – That he would teach in parables and would teach the wisdom of God with authority.
- Ps. 35:19 – Hated without a cause.
- Ps. 31:13 – People would scheme and plot to take his life.
- Ps. 35:11 – False witnesses would rise up against him.
- Ps. 41:9 – Betrayed by a familiar friend. We know him as Judas, one of Christ’s disciples.
And in the 22nd Psalm he gives a blow by blow account of the crucifixion of Christ, 1000 years before it happens. In fact, while Christ is on the cross he cries with a loud voice the first line of the Psalm, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”. And right before he died, he breathed out the last line “It is finished”. Pretty much everything else that the gospels tell us happened at Calvary that day is in great detail prophesied by David in this psalm.
This psalm was to the Hebrew people a very familiar and dear part of scripture. They knew it like many Christians know the 23rd psalm, “The Lord is my Shepherd”. Listen as I read several of the verses from this Psalm:
1(A) My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so(B) far from saving me, from the words of my(C) groaning?
2O my God, I cry by(D) day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.
6But I am(J) a worm and not a man,
(K) scorned by mankind and(L) despised by the people.
7All who see me(M) mock me;
they make mouths at me; they(N) wag their heads;
8(O) "He trusts in the LORD; let him(P) deliver him;
let him rescue him, for he(Q) delights in him!"
14I am(Y) poured out like water,
and all my bones are(Z) out of joint;
my(AA) heart is like(AB) wax;
it is melted within my breast;
15my strength is(AC) dried up like a potsherd,
and my(AD) tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.
16For(AE) dogs encompass me;
a company of evildoers(AF) encircles me;
they have(AG) pierced my hands and feet[b]— 17I can count all my bones—they(AH) stare and gloat over me; 18(AI) they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.
29All(BE) the prosperous of the earth eat and worship;
before him shall(BF) bow all who go down to the dust,
even the one who could not(BG) keep himself alive.
30Posterity shall serve him;
it shall be told of the Lord to the coming(BH) generation;
31they shall(BI) come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet(BJ) unborn,
that he has done it.
The other prophets
The glory days of King David eventually came to an end and following the reign of his son Solomon the Kingdom of Israel was divided into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. Many of the kings on both sides were evil and idolatrous, forsaking the law of God and worshipping the pagan gods of the cultures around them such as Baal and Molech. Subsequently, the children of Abraham went through great periods of darkness.
Now it was never God’s desire that they live in darkness and therefore he would send prophets to preach judgment and repentance, calling them out of their idolatrous ways and back to the living God of Israel. To the remnant still walking by faith through the darkness, He would give hope through the continuing promise of the coming messiah, the anointed one, who would establish an everlasting kingdom.
Pretty much all of the prophets gave insight to the coming messiah, though none as much as Isaiah. It’s hard to imagine that so much of Christ was already known hundreds of years before his birth. Listen to the details God shared with his people through Isaiah about the coming savior:
· 11:1-4 The Righteous Reign of the Branch
· 1There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of(A) Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
2And(B) the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
3And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.(C) He shall not judge by(D) what his eyes see,
or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
4but(E) with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
and he shall(F) strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and(G) with the breath of his lips(H) he shall kill the wicked.
- 40:3 - 3(D) A voice cries:[b](E) "In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD;
(F) make straight in the desert a highway for our God. (John the Baptist)
- 7:14 - 14Therefore the(R) Lord himself will give you a sign.(S) Behold, the(T) virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name(U) Immanuel
- 9:6,7 - 6(P) For to us a child is born,
to us(Q) a son is given;
(R) and the government shall be(S) upon[d] his shoulder,
and his name shall be called[e]
Wonderful(T) Counselor,(U) Mighty God,
(V) Everlasting(W) Father, Prince of(X) Peace.
7Of the increase of his government and of peace
(Y) there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
(Z) with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
(AA) The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
And on and on he goes, prophesying over 140 specific details concerning the coming hope of Judah and Israel. So much, including the way in which he was to suffer and die for the sins of the nation, that reading Isaiah is a lot like reading one of the four gospels. In fact, we could call it the gospel according to Isaiah.
Micah said Christ would be born in Bethlehem (Mic. 4:2), Hosea said he would be called out of Egypt(Hos. 11:1), and Jeremiah foretold the slaughter of infants which took place soon after Christ’s birth as an effort by King Herod to kill him (Jer. 31:15). The prophet Joel promised a day when God would pour out his Spirit on all flesh (Joel 2:28), Amos predicted that on the day of Christ’s death the sun would go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight (Amos 8:9). Zechariah said that King Jesus would be presented to Jerusalem riding on a Donkey (9:9) and that he would be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver (11:12).
All of the prophets had something to say about the coming Christ. All of their prophecies came true. And to those who did not reject the message but received it by faith, God gave salvation, not because of their own righteousness but because of the faithfulness and perfection of the one they believed in. They were just as much Christians as we are because the same Christ who saves us is the same Christ who saved them. It is the cross my dear friends which stands at the fulcrum of history. And not so much the cross as what happened on the cross that day on a hill in Calvary 2000 years ago, when the son of Eve crushed the head of the serpent, the devil, to purchase the redemption of countless sinners including Adam and Eve and you and me, if only you would put your hope and trust in what He did for you instead of what you can do for yourself.
So during this season of Advent when we look forward to the celebration that is Christmas, the birthday of Christ, and we praise and worship the one who although being the creator of the universe humbled himself by being born in a manger. We’ve spent a few minutes this morning considering the promises that God made to his people thousands of years before Christ. You have seen how God was faithful to keep his promises even when his people were often faithless and rebellious. Consider for a moment the promises that God still makes for us today. First of all, He has not closed the door on salvation for sinners through Jesus. The Christ who came on Christmas and died on Good Friday rose on Easter morning and continues to call sinners to himself today. Listen to his loving invitation. If you are here this morning and you feel the weight of your own life of sin and unbelief, this is for you. If you are a Christian but feel burdened by the trials and troubles of your present situation, whatever it may be, this is for you also. Jesus calls out to you: 28(AP) Come to(AQ) me, all who labor and are(AR) heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and(AS) learn from me, for I am(AT) gentle and lowly in heart, and(AU) you will find rest for your souls. 30For(AV) my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
The message of hope during this season of Advent is this: Christ our messiah came not just to be the savior of his people Israel, but he came to be the savior of his people in America and Canada and Mexico, and China, and Africa and all over the world. We no longer wait as many did for thousands of years for messiah to be born. He has come and he has conquered death and hell and he left us with a promise; that he will return. And as Christians, we know that when he returns he will not come as a lowly, humble peasant child born in a manger. Rather, he will come in power and glory.
12"Behold,(AA) I am coming soon,(AB) bringing my recompense with me,(AC) to repay everyone for what he has done. 13(AD) I am the Alpha and the Omega,(AE) the first and the last,(AF) the beginning and the end." (Rev. 22:12,13)