Summary: In today's lesson, we learn about Christ's timing for his first and second advents.
Today is the Third Sunday of Advent in 2020.
“Advent” (from the Latin adventus) means “coming,” and it refers to the season immediately before Christmas.
The “first advent” looks back to Christ’s first coming. The “second advent” looks forward to Christ’s second coming. We live between these two advents.
This year I am exploring the advents of Christ in a sermon series I am calling “The Advents of Christ.”
Last time, I examined “Christ’s Entrance.” His first advent was prophesied, and he came almost 2,000 years ago (Deuteronomy 18:18-19; Isaiah 7:14). His second advent is also prophesied, and he will come at some time in the future (John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:16).
Next week, I would like to explore “Christ’s Appearance.” When he came the first time, he came as a man (Philippians 2:5-8). And when he comes the second time, he will come as God (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
And finally, on the Sunday after Christmas Day, I would like to examine “Christ’s Purpose.” Christ’s first advent was to save the lost (Luke 19:10). His second advent, however, will be to judge the lost (Matthew 25:31-33, 41-46).
As we consider the advents of Christ, today we are going to examine the timing of Christ’s advent. In his letter to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul uses the following expression in Galatians 4:4 regarding the timing of Christ’s first advent, “But when the fullness of time had come.” The note to this verse in The Reformation Study Bible states that this is “The time set by the Father…when the promises of God are realized in Christ.”
Let us read Galatians 4:4-5:
4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4-5)
The September 11 attacks, often referred to as 9/11, were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by Al-Qaeda against the United States on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. Terrorists hijacked four airplanes and they crashed into a field in Pennsylvania, the Pentagon in Washington, DC, and each of the two Twin Towers in New York City. The attacks resulted in 2,977 deaths, more than 25,000 injuries, substantial long-term health consequences, and at least $10 billion in infrastructure and property damage. 9/11 remains the single deadliest terrorist attack in history and the single deadliest incident for fire firefighters and law enforcement officers in the history of the United States, with 343 firefighters and 72 officers killed, respectively.
Emotions for those who were around at that time ranged all over the place. The sense of invulnerability for United States was shattered. Even the two World Wars of the previous century had mostly taken place away from our precious land. Now, however, many realized that we did indeed live in a fallen world and that we needed to be prepared for the unexpected.
Others took 9/11 a step further. They believed that 9/11 was the beginning of the end of the world. Their fear was solidified by a prediction that circulated on the internet even before the dust had settled after the collapse of the Twin Towers. It was said to be written by Nostradamus in 1654. Here is what he prophesied:
In the City of God there will be a great thunder,
Two brothers torn apart by Chaos,
while the fortress endures,
the great leader will succumb,
The third big war will begin when the big city is burning.
Michel de Nostredame (1503-1566), whose Latinized name is Nostradamus, was a French astrologer, physician, and reputed seer, who is best known for his book titled, The Prophecies, a collection of 942 poetic quatrains allegedly predicting future events. The book was first published in 1555. Over the centuries, Nostradamus has attracted many supporters, who, along with much of the popular press, credit him with having accurately predicted many major world events, such as the collapse of the Twin Towers.
However, Nostradamus did not have any genuine, supernatural prophetic ability. His prophecies are generally vague, meaning that they could be applied to virtually anything. Moreover, his prophecies have often been mistranslated, and sometimes deliberately mistranslated. In addition, there are sometimes fraudulent attributions to Nostradamus, such as the Twin Towers prophecy. Perhaps you noticed that I said that Nostradamus died in 1566 and the Twin Towers prophecy was supposedly penned by him in 1654, which is 88 years after his death! The Twin Towers prophecy was actually written by a university student in in 1997 in his web-published essay on Nostradamus as an example of how to write an important-sounding prophecy through the use of vague imagery.