We are going to take a break from our study of Luke in lieu of the Christmas season. As you see we have here these candles. For some of you this may be the first time you have ever seen this and for others you may do this every year at this time. These are advent candles. Today begins the season of advent. The idea behind advent is to prepare our hearts for the Christmas season. Being in retail as a part time job and seeing how far people have strayed from the true meaning of what this season really represents. It is a time to reflect on who Jesus is, what Jesus has done and what He will do. It is a time to look back at His coming into the world and looking forward to His coming again. I would be the first to admit this is something we should be doing on a daily basis not just one day out of the year but this is a time to really focus on the incarnation. Since this holiday is celebrated pretty much in 90% of the world we are Christians, followers of Jesus Christ should take the time around this time of the year not to get lost in the hustle and bustle of the what revolves around this season and fix our hearts on the One we are to celebrate, Jesus Christ.
For the next four weeks leading up to Christmas Eve, we will be preparing our hearts for celebrating the greats hope, love, joy and peace we can ever desire to know and have. It is all in the Lord Jesus Christ and the fact that He gave up His throne and took on flesh for our sake and for His glory. This morning we are here with these four candles before us. One of them is lit and in three more weeks all for will be lit each one signifying a different element of the coming of our Lord. This morning as we enter this wonderful season of Advent we will be looking at the first candle which is called the Prophecy Candle.
What we will reflect on this morning is Advent-Hope in the Coming of Messiah
We will be looking through out the Old Testament to get a handle of this truth. The first thing I want us to understand is what Advent means. Advent is has Latin roots which simply means "coming," so this is a season of preparation and celebration of the coming of Jesus as the Messiah or Christ. Now here is the thing we are looking at the Hope in the coming of the Messiah. But what we are going to see this morning is the hope the Israelites were looking for in their Messiah. This first candle is called the Prophecy Candle.
This candle is called the Prophecy Candle because it symbolizes Hope.
God through out the Old Testament continually provided words of Hope to His people. He continually pointed to a future redeemer and king. This hope God provides comes directly from His mouth straight to Adam and Eve. In Genesis 3:15 we find the first message of Hope from God and the reason for a message of hope. In Genesis 3 we find the account of the fall with Adam and Eve. They disobeyed a direct command from God and they eat from the tree they were told not to eat from. So as they have damaged their relationship with God, God comes to them and doesn't just leave the in their condition but provides them Hope. We find it in Genesis 3:15 but we will start in Genesis 3:14.
The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life; And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”
You see that God places a curse on the serpent and He continues to curse the serpent God in the curse provides Hope for all mankind. There will always be a struggle between good and evil but Good will defeat evil and the seed of the woman will be victorious over the serpent. The fact that God says the victor will be the seed of the woman is very important because it points to the shear fact that the victor will take on flesh. God tells His people this in His word and we are privileged to have it written down for us. This is the beginning of a long line of prophecy God provides that bring Hope to His created beings.
Through out the Old Testament God is continually pointing to the Hope all of His creation and His people specifically the nation of Isreal can have in Jesus Christ. We will now scatter the Old Testament to see these statements of Hope. In these statements of Hope we will see three things that mankind is to be hopeful for in this, and every Christmas season. Hope in a King, Hope in a Priest, and Hope in a Redeemer.
God's desire has always been to be with His people, to have a very close relationship with them and to be worshiped by His creation for all eternity. Once Adam and Eve disobeyed God's direct command the fractured that relationship. God didn't just leave them to their own devices and He didn't just right them off instead He continued to communicate with mankind. There are instances throughout Scripture where God speaks directly to man. Like in Genesis 4 we have the account of God communicating with Cain. In Genesis 5 we have a genealogy of the people of God and in this genealogy we have a passing statement about a man named Enoch who, "Walked with God; and he was not, for God took him." Meaning Enoch had a very good relationship with God a very righteous man. Then we come to Genesis 6 which is were God makes Himself known to a righteous man named Noah. God has become angry with the debauchery and heathenism of all mankind and He chooses Noah and his family to be the ones who will carry on the human race after God wipes away the rest of mankind.
From Noah we find a man named Abram in Genesis 12 this man is called by God to move his from his home land to a foreign land that God has chosen for him and his descendants. Through Abrams family we find the promises that are made by God that point to the Hope in a coming One who will reconcile man to God and will also lead man politically and spiritually. God made this promise with Abram in Genesis 17, here we see God provide Hope for a future people.
Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless. “I will establish My covenant between Me and you, And I will multiply you exceedingly.” Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying, “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, And you will be the father of a multitude of nations. “No longer shall your name be called Abram, But your name shall be Abraham; For I will make you the father of a multitude of nations. “I have made you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come forth from you. “I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. “I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”
Here God speaks directly to Abram changing his name from the Abram, which means exalted father to Abraham, father of a multitude. In this promise we find God reassuring Abraham of a very important promise God has already made. Abraham's decedents will have the land he is on. From Abraham who is ninety-nine years old will have a son by his wife Sari who is also about the same age. And here is the beginning of our journey into the hope of a King, God tells Abraham from him kings will come forth. God provides Hope to this man. He provides it verbally to Abraham. This promise of a King is reinforced in Genesis 49 as Jacob, who is also known as Israel, is giving his blessing to his 12 sons. He says this to his son Judah.
“Judah, your brothers shall praise you; Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; Your father’s sons shall bow down to you. “Judah is a lion’s whelp; From the prey, my son, you have gone up. He couches, he lies down as a lion, And as a lion, who dares rouse him up? “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes, And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.
Here we have the reinforcement of the promise of a coming King. A leader for all the people of God. Not only this we have the family line the king will come from and we also have that the King will be eternal, ruling forever and the people of God will be His people and they listen to Him and be obedient to Him.
God didn't leave His people hopeless, He didn't leave them without a means of being lead. Keep in mind God's plan has always been to lead His people Himself. He didn't design His plan to be a Monarchy, the supreme power being in a human being. His plan was always a Theocracy, the leader of the people would always be God. In the promises God has made He has set the stage for the Hope of a King who would be born in the flesh, seed of a woman, yet as we continue to look this King is so much more than a Monarch, He is God the Son. We know looking back how this was fulfilled and when we look at this text here and all of the book of Genesis one thing we have to keep in mind is God was providing Hope for His own creation that they will have an eternal ruler, an eternal political powerhouse that will rule righteously and people will listen to Him.
This promise is fulfilled and in fact the writer of Hebrews looks back on this when he writes,
For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests.
So it is very clear to the early Christian church this Hope of a King from the line of Judah was fulfilled in Jesus.
This promise of a coming King provides Hope to the people of God and this first candle symbolizes this Hope in a coming King. God through out the Old Testament provides even more Hope. He provides Hope through His prophets that the one to Coming is going to be a Prophet and Priest and God wants us to have Hope in this Prophet/Priest.
In the book of Exodus we find Moses. Moses is a very important foreshadow to Jesus Christ. Moses is called by God in Exodus 3 to go to Egypt and to bring His people, the nation of Israel out of Egypt to go to the land God promised them so they can worship and follow God. Moses becomes a mediator between God and man. God spoke to Moses and Moses would relay the message to God's people. He is called a prophet.
“The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him. “This is according to all that you asked of the LORD your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, or I will die.’ “The LORD said to me, ‘They have spoken well. ‘I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.
The Israelite people from time to time had some glimmers of spiritual insight and this is one of those times. It was rare and it took some supernatural event to do this but it did happen. In there moment of clarity here they realized how worthless they are before a Holy and Righteous and Powerful Creator God and they didn't want to hear His voice again. So God said when He speaks He will speak through men carried along by His Spirit to provide spiritual leadership for His people. This passage itself is pointing to the greatest of prophets Jesus Christ the Righteous.
This is a hope God has provided for His people, Jesus is to be a Prophet, One who speaks for God, He is One who follows God's Word and speaks it perfectly. In fact in the same way Moses was a mediator between God and God's people Israel, Jesus is now the mediator between God and His people. This is recognized by the early Christian church. In fact in Acts 3 we have Peter giving his first sermon being carried along by the Holy Spirit and He says this in Acts 3:17-26
“And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also. “But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time. “Moses said, ‘THE LORD GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN; TO HIM YOU SHALL GIVE HEED to everything He says to you. ‘And it will be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ “And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days. “It is you who are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘AND IN YOUR SEED ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH SHALL BE BLESSED.’ “For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”
Jesus is the prophet God was to send and God has sent Him. Through Moses God provided hope to His people and as we just read in Acts 3 that Hope has been fulfilled. The work of the prophet is to turn people who have strayed away from God back to a right walk with God. Every prophet from Samuel forward has done this. If you read through the prophetic books of the Old Testament this is always their message, repent and follow God. It was never just a man's message it was a message from God. If not by His own mouth by His own mouth carried along by men whom He spoke to directly called prophets.
Here is something interesting when it comes to kings and prophets, the king was to have authority over the social and governmental areas of life, a political ruler. The prophet was to have authority over the things of God, a spiritual ruler. These two offices held by men were never to cross. A king couldn't be a prophet and a prophet couldn't be a king. Here comes Jesus, who holds both offices, a Prophet of God because He is God and a King over mankind. No one else can hold that office and God has provided the Hope of one who will do both throughout the Old Testament with His prophets.
So Jesus is an eternal King, He is also righteous Prophet whom we can place our hope in and who is the Hope of all mankind. Our Hope in Him as King and as Prophet doesn't stop there, God has also provided for His people a Hope in a Redeemer.
God provides hope for His people that they will have a righteous spiritual ruler who will not only have complete and total authority over theirs and our lives but One who will speak truth. He will also be One who will redeem man from their sinless state, from being destined for hell, to have a right relationship with their Creator and have a place in the Kingdom He has established for us. The picture of this redeemer comes first in the book of Exodus once again when God prescribes for His people the sacrifice of a lamb on the night He took the lives of the first born of the nation of Egypt. The blood of the lamb was a sign that for the Spirit of death to pass over those houses.
This was a picture of the Lamb who is slain for us which Isaiah points to in Isaiah 53:7
He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?
This passage points to the coming lamb whose dying for the purpose of taking the transgression of the people on His own shoulders. He died for the purpose of Redeem mankind. The hope we saw in Genesis 3:15 is now fleshing itself out through scripture and Exodus points to this and so does Isaiah.
Job understands that God is His Redeemer, he says this to his wise friends in Job 19:25-27
“As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth. “Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God; Whom I myself shall behold, And whom my eyes will see and not another. My heart faints within me!
Job knows his redeemer lives. His Redeemer, the one that saves him from His sin, the One who brings Him back to a right relationship with God. This Redeemer he knows is God and He is a God who lives. Job is one who knows this hope and place His hope in the One who has made promises of an eternal King, a righteous Prophet and a perfect redeemer.
As we continue to prepare our hearts for December 25 a day that is set aside for commemorating Jesus' birth we should begin by focusing on the Hope that God has promised in One He has chosen to lead us and One He has chosen to save us. One who will be born in the flesh One who has died and been resurrected in the flesh and sits in victory over sin. The first two weeks of Advent are a time of repentance. Just as the prophets would go about and call the people to repent and turn back to God let us look at this candle the prophecy candle as a symbol of our own time of repentance and preparing our hearts for the arrival of the King. We should be doing this every day, but in a time were the season causes us to lose focus on what December 25 should mean we must really be sure to prepare our hearts to truly celebrate our King, Prophet and Redeemer.