What is your most favorite time of year? And no, the answer does not have to be Christmas! What is your most favorite time of year? Why do you look forward to it? What do you do to prepare? How do you spend the days in-between? Is it constantly on your mind?
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14, NIV)
Isaiah began his prophetic ministry for the Lord just over 700 years before the birth of Christ. His ministry spanned over 50 years, much of which Israel spent in turmoil. It was during this time that he gave his most well-known prophecy. You can find it on Christmas cards everywhere. It is oft talked about in churches in the weeks leading up to Christmas. It is quoted every Christmas Eve. And it is reflected upon every Christmas morning.
But we are ahead of ourselves, for we know the outcome of the prophecy. We are the recipients of prophecy becoming reality. But to Isaiah and the Israelites he spoke it to, it was just a prophecy. It was something that was going to happen in the future. It was an event to look forward to!
Remember that time of year you look forward to all year? The birth of Jesus Christ is that event for the Israelites! They looked forward to it every day, every year, for 700 years! Imagine your excitement, your eagerness, your joy for that one day. And holding onto all those feelings for your entire life! That was the reality the Israelites faced.
On this Sunday, November 28, 2021, the first week of Advent begins. Advent is defined as the coming into a place, view, or being; arrival. Advent is just that, the time that precedes the arrival of something expected. The four weeks before Christmas is celebrated around the world by Christians as the Season of Advent. It is a time for us to look forward to the celebration of Christmas, and to remember and experience the Advent the Israelites experienced from the time of Isaiah’s prophecy until its fulfillment. Each week of Advent has its own theme, with this week’s theme being Advent of Hope.
Isaiah’s prophecy gave the Israelites hope. Hope that their lives would get better. Hope that the Lord God had not forgotten them. When we think and look forward to our favorite time of year, we have hope for that day, that it will be a special day full of cheer and merriment.
This week, take some time to reflect upon the theme of the week: Advent of Hope. What does Hope mean to you? How does it impact your life? What Hope do you have? Can you feel the hope the Israelites were awaiting?
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