Summary: Ist Sunday of Advent
“Our God Comes”
Today is the first Sunday in the season of Advent. It is the season of Hope. It’s the church’s new year’s day, the start of a new Christian calendar. Each year we rehearse the great works of God for us and for our salvation. In the seasons of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany we hear of the Father, who in love sends His Son into the world, to take up our humanity and dwell with us to save us.
In the seasons of Lent and Easter, we hear of the Son, who gave His life as a sacrifice on the cross as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
In the season of Pentecost, we hear of the Holy Spirit, who delivers to us all that the Son died to win for us, and who joins us to the death and resurrection of the Son through our faith. Today, we start the cycle all over again with the advent of Christ.
The word "advent" means "coming" or "arrival." It referred to the coming of the king. Among Christians, it refers to the coming of Christ to save us - both His first advent in humility, conceived of Mary and born as the baby of Bethlehem, and also his second advent in glory, when every eye will see Him and every tongue confess that He is Lord.
The season of Advent is time wrapped up in Hope, of preparation, of worship - both for the celebration of Christ’s birth and for His coming in glory to judge the living and the dead.
Isaiah says, In the Last Days. The time between Christ’s first advent in humility and His second advent in glory is called the "last days." We are now in the last days. We’ve been in the last days since the days when Jesus was conceived and born, suffered and died, rose and ascended.
The last days are the time of the church. They are the days when God establishes His church on earth. Here God teaches the nations His Word. Here God makes eternal peace. That is the prophetic vision of the text that we read from the book of Isaiah. In the last days the mountain of God’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.
Isaiah’s view of history is through a long, telephoto lens. He sees the whole time of the last days all piled up together. It’s like when we look at mountains from afar. It’s hard to tell the near mountains from the far ones. They almost appear to be right next to each other.
Isaiah sees the church as our Lord’s temple built on a high mountain. It is chief among all the mountains and raised up above the hills. When you realize that all religions had mountains, and every high place was a place of worship, you get Isaiah’s point. In the last days, the worship of the true and living God will be established over all other gods. Our God’s mountain will be chief, and his temple will be the place of true worship.
Recall what Jesus said when he pointed to Herod’s temple in Jerusalem. "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again." The temple Jesus was referring to was not the temple building on the mount in Jerusalem. He was speaking of His own flesh, which He would give for the life of the world.
The "mountain of the Lord’s temple" is the body of Jesus Christ, raised up on the cross, raised up from the dead, raised up to the heights of heaven. Where the crucified, risen, and glorified body of Jesus Christ is, there is the mountain of the Lord’s temple. It is where the Word of forgiveness is preached, where the body and blood of Christ are eaten and drunk in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, It is here that we worship and praise Him, It is there we find His mountain. It is chief among the mountains, raised above all high places.
The worship of God in the flesh of Jesus Christ is the death of other religions. Religion is man’s attempt to deal with God. To bribe Him with gifts, butter Him up with sacrifices, get Him to love us and deal kindly with us. Every so-called religion of the world has you climb a mountain to reach up to God. But the worship of our Lord in the flesh of Jesus Christ flattens every religious mountain under the cross of Jesus.
We don’t reach up to God. We can’t; we won’t. But God reaches down to us, and comes to us. We don’t climb up a mountain to reach God. He comes down from His mountain to reach us. He hangs on a cross and dies. He rises from the dead and ascends. And He raises us up with Him. God pushes His mountain up from below.