Advent Devotional: First Sunday in Advent

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 9:1–7

Have you ever been promised something that seemed too good to be true?

That’s the kind of promise God’s people received in Isaiah 9. They were promised light in the places that only knew darkness. They were promised freedom instead of slavery. They were promised glory instead of shame. They were promised peace instead of war.

They were promised a child. Not just any child. They were promised a king—better than any king they knew. They were promised a king whose reign would be known by things like justice, righteousness, and peace. They were promised a king whose reign would be without end.

They were promised an eternal king who would make everything right. Forever.

Shedding Some Light . . .

When Isaiah spoke of such things, few listened and few believed. For those who did believe, it wasn’t Isaiah they believed, but instead the God who promised again and again that his passion for his people would make this miracle happen.

As kings came and went, as leaders rose and fell, God’s people were tempted to doubt his promises. The stories of God’s past deliverance seemed like ancient history to many people under the oppressive rule of a foreign king or the unjust rule of one of their own kings. So while they longed for the deliverer Isaiah promised, it was tough to really hope God’s promise would come true.

Why was God taking so long? Did he remember? Did he care?

God did remember. God did care. When the time was right, he sent his son Jesus— the promised Messiah, the great and everlasting king. Jesus was everything Isaiah promised and more.

Now, on this side of Jesus’ birth, we face a situation similar to those in Isaiah’s day. We read of Jesus’ promised return, when the work he started will be complete. When everything (including us!) will be made right. Forever.

But it seems like God is taking a long time. When we start to wonder if God remembers or if he cares, we also start to wonder why we should care. When that happens, worship becomes ritual, obedience becomes a burden, and Jesus’ return becomes something we think about only when things get really, really bad.

Do you long for Jesus’ return? If so, why? If not, why not?

Do you recognize things in your own life, in your family, in your community, in this world that aren’t as they are supposed to be? If so, how do you think they will change if Jesus comes back?

Prayer: Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Speed the day of your return.

Advent Hymn: Stanzas 1 and 2 of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”

O come, O come, Immanuel, and ransom captive Israel that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel shall come to you, O Israel.

O come, O Wisdom from on high, who ordered all things mightily; to us the path of knowledge show and teach us in its ways to go.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel shall come to you, O Israel.

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