Advent 2020 (part 2)

   “Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” Says your God.” (Is. 40:1 NKJV) “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.” (Mic. 5:2 NKJV)
   “During the first months of occupation, the hardest thing to get used to was the German uniform everywhere, German trucks and tanks in the street, German spoken in the shops. Soldiers frequently visited our store.”, writes Corrie Ten Boom. “Newspapers no longer carried news we could trust, only long glowing reports of the successes of the German army. So we depended on the radio. The curfew, at first, was no hardship for us since it was originally set at 10:00 p.m. What we did object to were the identity cards each citizen was issued. These small folders containing photographs and fingerprints had to be produced on demand.”
   It is hard for any American to imagine what it might be like to be ruled by a foreign government. After all, we live in the greatest nation in the world but when you read accounts like that of Corrie Ten Boom’s during the German occupation of Holland you begin to get a sense of the oppression and bleakness that the situation might bring. Just for a moment consider a foreign government with a strange culture, different language, and a feeling of superiority taking control of your daily life. You may begin to feel a bit hopeless.
   This is the world that Jesus’ first advent takes place in. The Jews were under the foot of the Roman Empire. Before the Romans were the Seleucids. Before the Seleucids were the Greeks, and before the Greeks the country was ruled by the Persians. The Jews had been under foreign rule for more than 600 years! It was in 63 B.C. that Pompey conquered Judea and Roman rule was implemented. When the Romans took control they introduced a new system of taxation. Each household must return to their hometown for a census every five years.
   It happened by divine providence that Mary, the wife of Joseph, was pregnant during the time of the census. Joseph packed up the things that he and Mary would need and set out on the 90 miles or more journey from Nazareth to his home town of Bethlehem. It is interesting that immediately this journey brings to the imagination a picture of Mary sitting on a donkey led by Joseph yet in the scriptures there is no mention of a donkey. That is not to say they did not use a donkey but who knows they could have borrowed a camel! The Gospels do not focus on the arduous journey, the route that was taken, or whether or not animals were used. The Gospel narrative puts the emphasis on God fulfilling a promise He made over 700 years earlier that in Bethlehem the Messiah, God incarnate, would be born!
   The Jewish people were waiting for the advent of the Messiah with great expectation. God had given so much information regarding the Anointed One through the mouth of the prophets. Messiah would be: born of the line of David (Isa 11), born in Bethlehem (Mic 5:2), that He would comfort His people (Isa 40), that He would establish the throne of David forever (Isa 9:7), Messiah would return their land (Gen 17:8), that the gentiles would be drawn to the light of Israel and with them, they will bring their wealth (Isa 60), and so many more hope-filled promises of Israel's Messiah.
  With the promises of a conquering King and glory for Israel God also gave less popular promises of a suffering servant Messiah. Of the need for Israel to be redeemed from their sin, as well as the need for a new and greater covenant where God would put His law in His rebellious people's hearts (Jer 31). These less popular promises were not just invitations for the oppressed but also for the oppressor.
  I know, I know, generally when people are suffering or oppressed it is not socially acceptable to tell them they also have a deep spiritual problem and are sinners who need to be set free. Oppressed people tend to disregard their own faults due to what they are suffering. When suffering people are confronted with sin it is often received as belittling or harsh. With all that said let me communicate a truth to you and that is that God does not care about being socially acceptable or politically correct! Rather He cares for the lost sinner waiting to be found. The Holy Spirit prophesied through Zacharias the father of John the Baptist, “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited and redeemed His people, And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of His servant David...To give knowledge of salvation to His people By the remission of their sins...To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:68–69, 77, 79 NKJV)
   We all desire a quick solution or remedy to our physical oppressions or oppressors. No one wants to be oppressed! We all want to be free! God knows that true freedom starts in the soul of every person! The wonderful hope that Jesus' first advent brings us is freedom from sin and freedom from the bondage of death. It is because of His first advent that I am invited into a kingdom with no end! I am no longer afraid of that which previously oppressed me. “... neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:38–39 NKJV).

See you Sunday! God bless you! 

Dave Johnson

The Certainty of His Coming -Final newsletter of t...
Advent 2020