Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Advent Words ~ Word 2: Longing


Word 2: Longing

The Prophet Isaiah

“Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
    that the mountains would tremble before you!
As when fire sets twigs ablaze
    and causes water to boil,
come down to make your name known to your enemies
    and cause the nations to quake before you!
For when you did awesome things that we did not expect,
    you came down, and the mountains trembled before you.
Since ancient times no one has heard,
    no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
    who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. Isaiah 64:1-4

For many centuries God’s people waited for the Messiah, God’s promised One, to rescue and redeem them. God spoke to them through His prophets promising the arrival of the Savior. These promises produced hope, the waiting produced longing. Longing and waiting are the rhythms of the Advent season, but we do not long and wait in vain for we have the hope of God’s promises.

The prophet Isaiah lived during the time when the nation of Israel was divided. The northern kingdom was Israel, and the southern kingdom was Judah. Isaiah and other prophets of his day from the southern kingdom, Jeremiah and Micah, were God’s voice to the people. All three shared promises of the Messiah, but Isaiah’s book contains the most. His words gave the people hope and produced in them a longing for the Messiah to come quickly, to free them from oppression and hard times, for the promised Messiah would bring justice for God’s people.

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
    my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
    and he will bring justice to the nations.
He will not shout or cry out,
    or raise his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
    and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
    he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.
    In his teaching the islands will put their hope.” Isaiah 42:1-4

Isaiah’s words gave the people glimpses of who the Messiah would be and what he would do.

The Messiah would be born of a virgin – Isaiah 7:14

He will be called Immanuel, God with us – Isaiah 7:14

He would reign on David’s throne – Isaiah 9:7

The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him – Isaiah 11:1

His peace will be everlasting - Isaiah 9:7

He will uphold justice and righteousness for His kingdom – Isaiah 9:7

He will defend the poor and needy – Isaiah 11:4

He brings justice to the nations – Isaiah 42:1

He will be a light for the Gentiles – Isaiah 49:6

He will bring salvation to the ends of the earth – Isaiah 49:6

He will take up their infirmities, take on their transgressions, and bring them peace and healing – Isaiah 53:3-4

He brings good news to the poor, binds up the brokenhearted, gives freedom to captives, release for prisoners, comforts those who mourn, and brings beauty, gladness, and praise – Isaiah 61:1-4

This is the One the prophets promised. These are the things that the prophets said the Messiah would bring. This is what built their faith in God and gave them hope. This is the One they longed for.

We will come across Isaiah’s words again and again as we go through the Advent story. Advent is a time of connecting with the waiting and longing the nation of Israel had in expectation of the Messiah’s arrival, of celebrating God coming to earth as Immanuel, and reminds us of our own waiting and longing “while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13) in His promised return.

"The whole life of the good Christian is a holy longing. That is our life, to be trained by longing. You do not yet see what you long for, but the very act of desiring prepares you, so that when He comes you may see and be utterly satisfied." ~Augustine




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