Summary: We look to the past for the promise of the future, how the great patriarch are pointers of the promise of the awaited Messiah.
Pointer’s of Promise
Apart from the first two years, all of my childhood and much of my early adulthood was spent in Dunscroft, a medium sized mining village seven miles north east of Doncaster. Though it was a mining village it was surrounded by fields and hedgerows, which were places I loved to explore with friends but very often I would just go off on my own just to be surrounded by nature. On family holidays, which were always taken on the east coast of England, I would disappear for hours just exploring the cliffs and watching the sea. I was totally in awe of the wonder and beauty of creation; it is something that has never left me. When I first came to Wales in the early nineties, I was awestruck by seeing the blue sky disappear from view in the windscreen of the van to be replaced by a blanket of green forest as we drove into Betws Y Coed and captivated by waterfalls that disappeared at the side of the road only to reappear at the other side.
On honeymoon in the Lake District I was held by the majesty of the mountains and lakes, on holiday in Cornwall it was the rugged coastline of Bude and Tintagel. On yet another holiday in Lanzarote it was the bleak and barren beauty of the volcanic landscape and now we live within a five minute drive of some of the most breath taking scenery these British Isles have to offer. Every morning I can look out from our bedroom window and take in the view of Aberdare Mountain and revel in the beauty and majesty of God’s creation and yet, as beautiful as all these things are, they do not compare with that part of God’s creation that was called Paradise.
Paradise originally meant an enclosed garden where the harshness and dangers of the world could be kept out, it was a place that in creation was intended by God to be our dwelling but because of our first parent’s sinful disobedience we now find ourselves exiled from.
You may be forgiven for wondering what all this has to do with Advent?
The word advent literally translated means “A coming”, we associate it with Christmas as the countdown to the day we celebrate our Lord’s birth, the first coming. Ever since the “Fall” and Mankind’s subsequent exile from the first Paradise, the Garden of Eden, God had opened the way to the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
The first candle of Advent is for the Patriarchs- Noah, Abraham, Jacob & Moses. Heroic figures whose names are known to us through the history of our faith. These all too human figures with all their flaws and weaknesses are nevertheless wonderfully shot through with God’s presence and central to God’s story and his desire to draw all of his people back into a relationship with him. It is the glimpses of light that we can see in their very human lives that we can glimpse and indeed grasp the light of hope for our own lives. Over the next few minutes we’ll take a brief glimpse at two of these patriarchs, in particular the promises that God made to each of them and the significance those promises hold for us.