Summary: This sermon takes us from the preparations for Christmas to God’s preparations for the incarnation. It is an Advent sermon forcusing on what God did in the fuillness of time and how God is getting us ready today.
Hillsborough Reformed Church at Millstone
Advent I November 28, 2004 Is. 2:1-5, Mt. 24:36-44
I was in Kmart yesterday and was pleased to see a giant heap of boxes of candy canes. I was pleased because I like to have a box of them on hand in my study for when people come to see me and bring their children. I was pleased because I often forget to buy them but in this case there was a giant display right near the check out. I was also pleased because they were only 99 cents a box!
I guess I¡¦m ready for Christmas now! Just kidding. I¡¦m not that much of a Scrooge.
But there is a lot ahead. Christmas cards, special services and activities, purchasing gifts, getting a tree. There is lots ahead for all of us ¡V baking, mailing, decorating. The pre-Christmas season is a time of getting ready. Advent is a time of getting ready in our hearts and minds for the birth of Jesus.
This morning I¡¦d like to reflect a little on someone else¡¦s preparations. God had to get ready for Christmas too, long ago.
The first thing God did to get ready was to promise a Messiah. God¡¦s Messiah would be a perfect king ¡V one who would rule with justice and equity. This ruler would bring peace. This ruler would make life the very best it could be.
These preparations took God a very, very long time. God made his people wait. I¡¦m not sure why, but God had his reasons. The people of Israel lived under foreign domination for century after century, waiting and waiting for the Messiah. Waiting so long generation after generation that many people must have wondered if God would ever send the Messiah.
Why did God wait so long? We don¡¦t know, but we can believe there is a good reason. Sometimes life is like that. Sometimes a single woman will wonder if she will ever find her true love. Then one day he comes along and she knows he was worth waiting for. Earning a degree can be tough. It costs money and takes so much work and maybe sometimes a student might ask if its worth it. But when he has the job that gives him fulfillment and joy, he knows the wait was worth it.
God had to wait till his people were ready. It was an odd time, really. It was a time when they were hopelessly under Rome¡¦s domination, when religion had been stale and distant from the average person and when there seemed no hope for the future at all. Then God sent his Messiah.
The Bible says that God sent Jesus in the fullness of time. Its as if the world was ripe for it just then. Often we pray that someone we care about or work with will accept Jesus Christ into their lives. We witness to them, but they reject it. For some reason, they are just not ripe. But then often the moment comes. It is the fullness of time for that person and they meet Jesus Christ and their lives are changed forever.
The Bible says, ¡§But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that they might receive adoption as children (Gal. 4:4).¡¨ The people expected to be delivered from Roman domination. But that would come much later. No earthly state endures forever. Only God¡¦s kingdom does. There was something more important that had to be done, delivery to the freedom of the grace of the love of God. Deliverance from sin to eternal life. When the time was ripe for that, God did that for his people in Jesus Christ.
And finally, God got ready by sending a Messiah of promise. Jesus was of the house and lineage of David. God promised that the Messiah would be a descendant of David, and so we are told in Matthew¡¦s gospel that Joseph, Jesus¡¦ father was a descendant of David.
So what does all of this mean to us, this business of God getting ready two thousand years ago? It means that God keeps his promises and will always deliver his people.
That means no matter what is going on in your life, God has a future for you and is holding you tightly ¡V so tightly that nothing can do you in. In tough times, you can withstand anything because God is fulfilling his promise to you. In the good times, you can know that God is with you as you walk with Jesus Christ.
Above all, that God got ready so long ago and fulfilled his promises means to you the most important thing in your life is your walk with Jesus Christ. When God sent the Messiah 2,000 years ago, things looked pretty bad. In fact, most of us will never live in circumstances anything like what it was like for God¡¦s people back then. But God showed that Roman power didn¡¦t matter. God showed that peoples¡¦ circumstances didn¡¦t matter. God showed that even the Temple religion which seemed so far beyond the average person was not what ultimately mattered. God¡¦s fulfillment of his promise to send the Messiah mattered. And that is what matters to you and to me this Advent 2004.