Summary: It is during this season of Advent that we focus on hope and that hope is centered on the Second Coming of Christ. Advent is not just about preparing for the coming of the Christ child. It is also about looking to the Second Coming of Jesus
The Hope of Advent
In the 19th century, there was a wave of enthusiasm for prophecies predicting the actual date for the Second Coming of Christ. One such prophecy was an Adventist leader name William Miller. After studying Daniel 8, Miller predicted that Christ would return on March 21, 1842, but then revised the date to April 3, 1843. Over 3,500 of his followers jammed the Boston Advent Temple, only to be disappointed. You might have thought that the movement would have died. But it didn’t. Rather it continued to grow. Miller decided to recalculate his date for the Second Coming and soon publicized a new date - April 18, 1844. When the messiah did not show up on that date, there was again frustration and some followers left the Adventist ranks. Undeterred, Miller came up with a third date – October 22. 1844. And, surprisingly, this third date rallied his followers. They began to spread the news of the new date of the Second Coming with an enthusiasm that had not seen before. Churches that did not accept this message were denounced as agents of “Babylon.” and the devil. And - despite opposition from established, mainline religious groups, thousands of people – including many clergy – began to prepare. One account notes that “Fields were left unharvested, shops were closed, people quit their jobs, paid their debts, and freely gave away their possessions with no thought of repayment.” Huge press runs of Advent publications like The Midnight Cry warned the public that “The Time Is Short”. “Prepare to Meet Thy God!” and “The Lord is Coming!” William Miller himself began peddling white “ascension robes” to the faithful, many of whom waited for the miraculous event in freshly dug graves. But as we all know, the Second Coming did not occur. A few weeks later after the Great Disappointment, William Miller wrote, “Although surrounded by enemies and scoffers, my mind is perfectly calm and my hope in the coming Christ is as sure as ever… I have fixed in my mind upon another time and here I mean to stand until God gives me more' light. And that is Today, Today Today. Until He comes and I see Him, my soul yearns for him.”
It is during this season of Advent that we focus on hope and that hope is centered on the Second Coming of Christ. Advent is not just about preparing for the coming of the Christ child. It is also about looking to the Second Coming of Jesus when he will establish His kingdom here on earth. Marques Silva writes, “In college I was surprised when a close friend explained her family crèche. It wasn’t the style or the model that caused me to pause. It was the addition of a figurine that I had neither seen nor considered before. This particular set included not only the baby Jesus but an additional Jesus… hung over the crèche, above the position where the angel usually is placed. As odd as this image may seem to us, it does reflect what the church encourages us to meditate on during the season of Advent and that is the true hope of Jesus’ return. This should be the longing of our heart. Revelation 20:17 directs us to pray, “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come?'” Or again in verse 20, “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” And then Marques Silva writes, “The hope of the Christian is that He returns to us quickly in glory. Advent is actually is about slowing down and patient watchfulness so as to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Kingdom – first in our hearts through an infant savior and then in joyful anticipation of His coming in glory like a Bridegroom to his Bride.”
In expectation of Christ’s birth and His intended return comes hope. And that hope is sure and real. James Chandler tells the story of saying grace before Thanksgiving dinner. In his prayer, he included the phrase, ‘Dear God, I sure hope the Oakland Raiders make it to the Super Bowl.’ He learned that wasn’t really appropriate. But as He grew, he also learned that real hope is not the kind of hope he mentioned in his prayer. Real hope is not a wish but confidence in certainty.” Advent is a time we are to be reminded of the certainty that Jesus entered the world to die on the cross for our sins and of His return to establish the Kingdom of God in our midst. It is in the assurance of that hope upon which we stand, worship, serve and live.
Hope is essential in life. James Addison said that there are three essentials in life: something to do, someone to love and something to hope for.” In short, we need hope to live. One night at dinner told the story of a Flagstaff, Maine which is no longer there. The town was to be flooded as part of a large lake for which a dam was being built. In the months before it was to be flooded, all improvements and repairs came to a screeching halt. What was the use of painting a house if it were to be covered in water six months later? Why repair anything when the village would be wiped out? And so week by week, the whole town became more and more run down. Then he said, “Where there is no faith in the future, there is no power in the present.” We need not only hope for the future but the power it gives us for the present. This is why one of the things we focus on in Advent is hope, and not just any hope, but in the hope of the Second Coming of the Savior and the establishment of His Kingdom here on earth.