We recover the watchful expectation of the poets and prophets, poet-prophets like Isaiah (9:1-7):
"Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory.
2 The people who walk in darkness
will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness,
a light will shine.
3 You will enlarge the nation of Israel,
and its people will rejoice.
They will rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest
and like warriors dividing the plunder.
4 For you will break the yoke of their slavery
and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders.
You will break the oppressor’s rod,
just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian.
5 The boots of the warrior
and the uniforms bloodstained by war
will all be burned.
They will be fuel for the fire.
6 For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 His government and its peace
will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David
for all eternity.
The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies
will make this happen!"
Before Christ’s incarnate arrival at Bethlehem, the people of Israel were earnestly longing for the Messiah who would rescue and restore them as had been promised by the Old Testament prophets. During Advent, we meditate and hope in God’s promise spoken through Isaiah, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
While remembering the anticipation of those awaiting Christ’s coming, we give thanks during Advent that we have experienced his coming already and long to experience his coming each day in our lives. We ask that God move among us as Jesus encouraged us to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” We celebrate the gospel, that God the Son humbled himself to being born in a barn, putting on flesh, dwelling among us, and rescuing us in his death and resurrection. The Advent Season gives thanks for the incredible miracle of Christ’s incarnate arrival.
Finally, we look forward to Christ’s promised return. Just as Jesus tells his followers to be dressed for service with lamps kept burning (Matthew 25.1-13), so are we to await his coming with eager expectancy. Our hope, peace, love and joy should burn brightly by the constant fuel of knowing his return will finally bring all things to full redemption. Like the prophets of old, our lives ought to be oriented towards this coming event: living each day as though his face would be seen on the horizon.