Wednesday, December 1, 2010

This Season of Waiting

We are now in the season of Advent, a time of waiting and preparation. “Advent” comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming.” The season of Advent is an in between time, the time between promise and fulfillment, the time between “amen” and “there it is!” In the Church calendar, it is a time of preparation for the season of Christmas, when we celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Historically, we are waiting for something that has already come, something that has already begun. That might seem a little strange. After all, if it has already come, why are we still waiting for it? But the truth is that, though it has already begun, it has not yet come in completeness. Theologians refer to this truth as already, not yet. That is, if I may make a little rhyme of it, we are waiting for something already begun, but not yet done.

What are we waiting for? One answer comes to me in my psalms for the day. Each day, I pray in the book of Psalms (5 a day times 30 days in a month is 150 psalms — it works out nicely). Today being the first of the month, I am praying through the first five psalms. But Psalm 2 is what I want to focus on here. Seeing that we are in the Advent season, I naturally tend to see this passage, at least today, in an Advent way. It begins,
Why do the nations rage
And the people plot a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves
And the rulers take counsel together
Against the LORD and against His Anointed? (vv. 1-2)
Now, I have read this question many times before, but this morning I thought to ask it myself: “Lord, why do the kings of the earth still rage and the nations still plot in vain and set themselves against You and Your Messiah, Jesus?” I prayed through the psalm a little further.
“Yet I have set My King
On My holy hill of Zion.”
“I will declare the decree:
The LORD has said to Me,
‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
Ask of Me, and I will give You
The nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession. (vv. 6-8)
Yahweh says, “Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion.” Past tense, completed action. This is the enthronement of a freshly anointed king over Israel. The New Testament attributes this psalm to David. David says, “I will declare the decree.” God has given David a decree and this is what He says to him, “You are My son, today I have begotten you.” In the mind of an ancient Israelite, this would speak of adoption — when God made David king, He adopted him as His son. This psalm, then, applied to David and to whichever of his descendents would ascend to the throne.

But there is also a deeper, prophetic significance here. Neither David nor the line of his descendents saw the fulfillment of the promise: “Ask of Me, and I will give you the nations for your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for your possession.” Indeed, before long the throne of David began to crumble and the divided kingdom eventually went into a long exile, a deep time of waiting with the hope of a Messiah who was to come and a kingdom that would endure. After half a millennium, a new light began to dawn — the birth of Jesus, Son of David, who came announcing that the time was fulfilled and God’s kingdom had now come.

The most important thing in the world happened then. At the Incarnation, when Jesus came and took upon Himself our humanity. At the Cross, when He took upon Himself our sin and destroyed the works of the devil. At the Resurrection, when He took upon Himself our mortality and defeated it. At the Ascension, when He assumed His place at the right hand of the Father, where He now rules and reigns over all. And yet …

We are still waiting for the completion of what has begun. Ever since the days of John the Baptist, the kingdom of God has been “forcefully advancing” (Matthew 11:12 NIV). Still we wait. “The darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining” (1 John 2:8). Still we wait. We pray the prayer Jesus taught us to pray, “Kingdom of God, come. Will of God, be done on earth as it is in heaven.” And we wait for the day He comes again and receives all the nations for His inheritance and the ends of the earth for His possession. That will be the greatest Advent.



Let Earth Receive Her King
Let Earth Receive Her King
Advent, Christmas and the Kingdom of God
by Jeff Doles

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