(Amos 3:7) As the corner is turned after Thanksgiving, we begin our journey toward Christmas. I guess “Black Friday” is a reminder that Christmas is coming. But is that really the best cue that the season is upon us? The answer for many is obvious, especially so for Christians. There are much more accurate and peaceful indicators for this time we’ve entered. From today until the just before December 25th let’s look at the reminders of why this Advent time is sacred.
Defining the word Advent discloses why this is a holy time. It describes an introduction, arrival, dawn, or coming of a season of time. More specific to the Church it is the coming of Jesus. This may be a good place to interject that there is no Biblical evidence that Jesus was born in December. The fact of the matter is the accounts of Christ’s birth do not at all mention the month He was born. But for many centuries Christians have celebrated His coming in December for reasons we do not have time to address; there are better things to look into. The Advent season begins four Sundays before Christmas Day. Its earliest documented observance dates to the mid-500s A.D. Advent marks five notable acts of God as He prepared the world for the incarnation of His Son, Jesus.
The first act took place not months but centuries before Jesus was born in Bethlehem. The first Sunday of Advent reminds Christians that God made known the coming of Jesus the Messiah long before He came. How did He do this? God told men He called prophets and they told us. According to the Lord this is how He works. He said through His prophet Amos, “Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). And tell He did. There are more than 300 references in the Old Testament pointing to the coming of Christ. There is not enough space here to look into 300. But how about five?
The first prophecy telling of Jesus’ coming is found early in the first book of the Bible. In God’s condemnation of the serpent, in Genesis 3:15, He says, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” The serpent, later identified as Satan, tempted Eve, Eve fell for it, and here we are in a world filled with sin. This first prophecy foretold of the coming of One who would destroy the power of sin and the Tempter. Jesus did this on the cross.
God also told of the miraculous birth of Christ through His prophet Isaiah who wrote, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). Through these words we learn that Jesus was both human and Divine. He was born in a supernatural way and was Immanuel, meaning “God with us.” This is the verse that the Archangel Gabriel used to when he came to tell Mary that God had chosen her to bring the Messiah into the world. And make no mistake, Mary was a virgin when before and after Jesus was conceived in her, remaining so until after Jesus was born. How do we know this for certain? God said so.
Another of God’s prophet’s, Micah, told where Jesus would be born: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, but of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (Micah 5:2) This was a reminder that Jesus was the fulfillment of God’s promise to King David that he would always have an heir on the throne. Jesus is the last king; He is the King of kings.
So, long before His birth, God gave us the reason Jesus needed to come. He came to destroy the power of sin in our lives. God told us the how and where of Jesus’ coming. But He also foretold the result of His coming. There were two men that God used more than the others to bring this message to humanity, His prophets Isaiah and Zechariah.
Zechariah proclaimed, “See, the stone I have set in front of Joshua! There are seven eyes on that one stone, and I will engrave an inscription on it,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day.” (Zechariah 3:9). The Apostle John tells of that day when he recorded Jesus’ words, “It is finished” and He died (John 19:30). At that moment our sins were removed.
Isaiah tells us the reason Jesus had to come and die when he wrote, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed… After the suffering of his soul, he [God] will see the light of life [Jesus] and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5,11).
So God, through His prophets, told us His plan. But why did God chose to come to us? In His words: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10) “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9).
We’ve turned the corner and Christmas is coming. God told us it would long before it was.