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Summary: Hope is oriented toward what God is doing; wishing is oriented toward what we are doing. Choose hope—hope is living in anticipation of what God is going to do next.

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Webster defines a patriot as one “who loves and loyally or zealously supports one's own country”. By that definition, Asaph (author of Ps. 80), was both patriot and man of God, burdened for his country. Among all nations of the world, Israel was/is God's crown jewel. For hundreds of years she enjoyed God’s favor; she had unmatched fellowship with God, and was enriched with the unparalleled fortune of God.

But golden dreams disintegrate to filthy ashes when Israel forsakes God. She moves from nation of conquerors to a nation of captives—from blessing to bondage. She exchanged the gold bracelets of freedom for the iron shackles of slavery.

Asaph cries out to God to save his country. "Before Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh, stir up Your strength, and come and save us!" (v2), He knows Israel suffers in her sin. Three times Asaph pleads "Restore us, O God; cause Your face to shine, and we shall be saved!" (vv. 3,7, & 19).

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Advent marks the beginning of a new church year. I like new beginnings. They afford us an opportunity to analyze our past and make course corrections for the future. I especially like the season of Advent (Latin adventus, coming), because it brings to focus the coming of Jesus Christ: as a babe to Bethlehem (1st) and as a king coming for his people (2nd).

B. Advent is a time to draw near to God—to restore and be restored. We enter a series on restoration represented by each Advent Candle. We begin with the restoration of hope. OYBT Psalm 80.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Scholars believe the references to Israel, Joseph, Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh suggests the lament (grief-wailing) is from the northern kingdom (10 of 12 tribes). They are ravaged by a foreign power, and seek God’s restorative power.

B. A quick read might lead us to believe it is a psalm of despair, in which the people cry out to God as though there is no hope for them. Fortunately, a more careful reading reveals a fascinating plea for restoration based in hope, not wishful fantasy.

C. The structure of the psalm defines its movements: (1-3) Invocation and petition; (4-7) Lamentation; (8-11) Recitation of God’s saving acts; (12-16) Description of the vine’s current condition; and (17-19) Petitions and vow.

D. The recurring refrain of the psalm defines its tone: Restore us, O God; make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved. Listen to the surety of that refrain! (repeat 2X)

[Hope is oriented toward what God is doing; wishing is oriented toward what we are doing. Choose hope—hope is living in anticipation of what God is going to do next.]

III. ISRAEL COMES BEFORE GOD

A. Invocation and Petition (1-3)

1. Hear us, O Shepherd | who leads us | who sits enthroned. They call upon God, acknowledging him as Almighty, Protector, and Leader.

2. Shine forth before us | awaken your might | come and save us. They long for a glimpse of God; a sign of his presence; the security that he alone provides.

Restore us, O God; make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved.

Lamentation (4-7)

1. Israel laments God’s severe punishment. Their sins demand punishment, yet they cannot bear their feelings of separation from God.

2. How long will you be angry? | You’ve fed us with tears | made us contentious to others | our enemies mock us

Restore us, O God; make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved.

C. Recitation of God’s Saving Acts (8-11)

1. The Exodus from Egypt was a touchstone for Israel, i.e. the standard by which everything is judged. Here they remember God’s saving acts in their history:

a. Saved from their bondage in Egypt

b. Saved from the powers of nations far stronger than they were

c. Saved from homelessness as God “planted them in the Promised Land.”

d. Saved from poverty; God allowed them to flourish in the new land

2. Reading these verses brings new meaning to the commandments of Deut. 6:4-11, to teach your children the ways of God and his goodness throughout the generations.

D. Description of Israel’s Current Condition (12-16)

1. Why have you broken down its walls is a rhetorical question. Israel is aware of its sin. There is no confession; perhaps it is so obvious it need not be repeated?

2. Return to us suggests the desperation of the people, who feel utter separation from God. They refer to themselves as a vine, the root planted by God’s right hand | the son he raised up for himself.

3. The vine is cut down | burned with fire | your people perish. Notice they do not perish at the hands of their enemies, but at God’s rebuke! Fascinating!

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