The first week of advent is centred on the topic of hope. On the first Sunday of Advent, (Which would be tomorrow, November 28, 2010) people attending church services would notice an advent wreath with 5 candles, One for each Sunday in advent, and the fifth for Christmas Eve. On the first Sunday of Advent, only one of the five candles is lit. This candle symbolizes the hope of Christ’s coming into the world to save us from ourselves, our sin, and ultimate separation from God.
This hope extends back to Genesis 3:15, right after the fall of man when God reveals his plan for salvation at the very start of humanity.
Genesis 3:15 (NIV)
15 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 “you” God is referring to was the serpent, Satan who had caused Adam and Eve, the first humans, to sin, and become unfit for the presence of God.
Fortunately God had a plan of redemption, he would one day send his son Jesus Christ, who would eventually crush the head of the serpent (Satan) once and for all, and conquer sin and death. That is where the hope of his coming originally started.
This hope is carried down through many years.
The prophet Isaiah had this to say about the very same person who was spoken of in Genesis 3:15.
Isaiah 53 (NIV)
1 Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
4 Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes[c] his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.
Thousands of years later, (and still many years before Jesus shows up) Isaiah predicts the hope of the coming of Christ to bring redemption to the whole world. This serves as an undertone for the rest of the “minor prophets” until the actual coming of Christ occurs.
For Christians living in today’s world after death and sin have already been beaten by Christ, we have yet another reason for hope. That is the hope in the second coming of Christ, as we wait until the time when he comes back and makes all things new.
Thoughts from a slightly older me: If there was ever a time the world really needed hope, it’s right now (in 2013) I realize I wrote this 2 years ago so now I’m reflecting on it.
People seem to think these days that they can make it through life on their own. That they don’t need Jesus at all. Due to this thought process, many folks in North America and elsewhere are attempting…once again…to completely get rid of Christianity altogether. The most recent attacks in North America being raged against the Operation Christmas Child program because it promotes salvation through Jesus Christ. It’s sort of like having an open book test and refusing to bring your books to the exam. The answer is right there in front of you, but you’d rather find another way? That doesn’t make sense to me. Stranger things are yet to happen in this world as morals and everything else go into decay. So, we have a choice, we can either remain hopeless, or put our home in Jesus Christ, the one who holds all things together and is still in control today, whether you’d like to believe that or not.
His offer of salvation remains, as it always has been, open to everyone who chooses to believe in him. He is still the only way to gain eternal life. We cannot do it by ourselves, but we have hope because Jesus did all the hard work for us.