Summary: A sermon for the first week of Advent... HOPE. Advent is about waiting and this sermon talks about the long wait from Gen. 3:15 to Gal. 4:4-5.
The Only Good Snake…
Finish this statement…
“The only good snake… _is_a_dead_snake_”
The best snake to kill? Poisonous
Today is a very important day… the first Sunday in Advent…
Advent comes from the Latin word for “Coming” or “Visitation”
In the Christian church it is the season of expectant waiting and preparation
You could say that today kicks off the Christmas season… at least for the church.
Advent is a four week season that is designed to help Christians to remember the long, long wait of the Jewish people… who were waiting for the coming of the Messiah.
Each week we mark the wait by lighting one of the four candles on the outside of the Advent wreathe. Each candle has a special theme which we will celebrate that day.
Today we lit the candle of HOPE.
The Jewish people expected the Messiah to come with power and be a mighty warrior.
They were in hope that the Messiah would come as a political/military deliverer who would deliver Israel from the bonds of servitude to foreign powers.
The thought of the Messiah… the long awaited Savior coming as a helpless infant… was laughable and repugnant… not to mention VERY DISAPPOINTING.
All of those years of waiting, all of the expectation, the dreams, the promises… and this is what they get???
The Long Wait
How long had they waited. How many years do we symbolize with the Advent season?
Was it 400 years… the number of years that make up what we call the “Inter-Testamental” period… the period of time between the last word or message from God in the Old Testament
From the last message given by the last OT prophet, Malachi (430BC) to John the Baptizer, (c. 2 BC) God was silent. He had grown weary of sending message after message, prophet after prophet, warning after warning and call after call. The Jews refused to heed His call or listen to His threats. They persisted in their idolatrous and stiff-necked ways.
So… God decided to get their attention another way… silence.
For roughly 400 years, God said nothing, answered no prayers, sent no dreams, no miracles, no anything.
They looked to the skies, they prayed, they fasted, they begged, they did acts of penance… BUT NOTHING
Until one day, word came to a man named Zechariah, that his wife would bear a son and he was to be named John. John would be to one to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah.
Ironically, when God does decide to speak, after a 400 year silence, Zechariah is doubtful and God punishes him by making him mute until the baby is born…. More silence…. Go figure.
So had they waited 400 years?
Or was it almost 750 years… the period of time from the fall of Israel into the hands of the Assyrians.
Another of the disobediences of the Jews…
The Israelites had become a vassel state… paying tribute… protection money really to the new world power and political bully, Assyria. Soon the yolk of the tribute became too heavy and the King of Israel sought an ally in the king of Syria. Together they thought they could fend off the Assyrian bully.