04 December 2015

Of Anticipating Advent

The New Testament story of Simeon has long been a favorite of mine (for reasons documented here) and this Christmas season I have been blessed with the opportunity to share a devotion with a precious group of ladies whom I adore. So, of course, Simeon is on my mind and I've been working to flesh out his story and his words even more. What does it mean for Jesus to be "a light for revelation?"

As I have researched and cross-referenced, I have come across the words in Isaiah 40, which declare:
"Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
    and cry to her
that her warfare[a] is ended,
    that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord's hand
    double for all her sins.
A voice cries:[b]
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
    make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
    and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
    and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
    and all flesh shall see it together,
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”"

And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed . . . made manifest, as my footnote indicates.

And Simeon, the Scripture says, is one of these who eagerly anticipated the comfort that had been declared, this glory of the Lord to be revealed.

It has often been stated that the 400 years represented by the gap between the Old Testament and the New are the "silent years" in which God did not speak to His people. Yet, as the angels appearing to Zechariah, Mary, and Joseph indicate, as the Holy Spirit speaking to Simeon that he would not die before he saw the promised One indicates, God was anything but silent during these times.

Just as He is anything but silent in our time.

We live in a time not unlike that of Simeon. His people had waited over 700 years since Isaiah spoke his prophecies declaring this Messiah - 400 years since any prophet had spoken ever. They watched their people be overthrown, tossed around by the kingdoms of this world and then come under Roman rule. Times were difficult. And these people who had been waiting and watching and praying, asked, "How much longer, Lord?!"

And here are we, 2000 years since that first fulfillment of prophecy, yet 1900 years from the last confirmed Word from God to all people. The canon was closed and God turned "silent." And the people watched. And they waited. And they prayed.

And we continue to watch. And wait. And pray. And cry out, "How much longer, Lord?!"

Yet, we do not wait without hope. We have this hope that is Christmas - this evidence of promises fulfilled. We do not know His timing, but we know He is faithful.

And that's what this season of Advent is truly about - feeling the weight of this anticipation. Of watching, and hoping, for this Savior of the world.

It's not simply finding a creative way of counting down 24 days, awaiting the presents, or the meal, or the cookies, or even the starlit wonder in the eyes of children, waking in the pre-dawn hours to unwrap what they have been anticipating.

It is a time of hope and anticipation, to truly grasp what the world felt as it waited from the dawn of time for a Savior of God's people, and for all people, everywhere, to emerge and mend what was broken. And as we live in a world that seems beyond repair, we must know what that was like. We must know this anticipation and hope. And we can see the day coming - the day that represents the birth of this Savior, this God made flesh Who came down, His glory made manifest for all people. And we can rejoice knowing, while we remain in the dark, we can unwrap this greatest gift we have been anticipating and understand, the dawn is yet to come. There is still a day coming.

But it will come. Let us wait with wonder.

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