November 29, 2015 | text: Isaiah 40:1-5
Why does Charlie Brown even try to kick the football? He knows exactly what will happen when he does; Lucy will pull it away and he will fly through the air landing flat on his back. He has no reasonable expectation this time will be any different because of all the times in past Lucy has let him down.
We learn from past experience. Charlie Brown just keeps trying, but remember the boy who cried wolf? There came a point where no one listened anymore even when there was real danger. He had lost his credibility. On the other hand, think about Honest Abe and Old Faithful; reliability became a part of their identification. When someone proves to be trustworthy time after time, there is no reason to doubt their word. That’s why we read the words of prophecy during Advent. Looking at prophecy and its fulfillment reminds and encourages us that God is always faithful concerning his promises.
The Promise was made. Isaiah 40 is one of many Old Testament passages that foretell the incarnation. Isaiah 7:14 and 9:6 are some of the best known but just last week we looked at the promise made to Abraham in Genesis 15 (and they go back as far as Genesis chapter 3). There are no less than 12 that give us the details of his birth, including the family line, the place and the miraculous sign of the virgin with child. There are lessons to be learned in the waiting and Israel waited another 2,000 years even after the Isaiah prophesies.
The Promise was fulfilled. Hebrews 1 begins “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his son…” We will read the Christmas passages when the time comes but we know the time is coming. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us; light shined into darkness and into the hearts of men and women. He is the image of the invisible God, the exact imprint of his nature (Col 1, Heb 1).
There is more to come. Advent is about more than preparing for Christmas. Advent recognizes that Jesus came into the world, that he is coming into our lives, and that he will come back again. Advent connects the past, present and future of God’s promises and their fulfillment. God’s kingdom is being built. We lived during a period of fulfillment that can be described as already but not yet. God’s promise in Exodus and Leviticus – I will be your God and you will be my people – will not be fulfilled in its entirety until Revelation 21. What Isaiah prophesied in chapter 11 about the wolf and the lamb has not yet come to pass. But we know that God is faithful and true from past experience. He is not a man that he should lie. Finally:
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,[a] not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies[b] will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness,12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. -2 Peter 3:8-13
Peace and God bless.