This is the season of Advent. Advent means “coming.” In ancient Rome, the adventus was a ceremony in honor of the emperor, welcoming him into the city, often as he returned from a victorious military campaign. The Christian season of Advent is a time of waiting and preparation that focuses on the arrival of Jesus the Messiah, God’s Anointed King, into the world. This was His first coming, and we remember it as Christmas. But in this season we also have an eye toward His second coming, when He will return at the end of the age.
At His first coming, the kingdom of God entered into the world and the promises of God began to be fulfilled. At His second coming, the kingdom and all those promises will be brought to completion. In the season of Advent, we remember those promises as we prepare to celebrate the birth of King Jesus, but also as we await the return of the King.
God has much to say, through Isaiah the prophet, about those promises. Isaiah long ago prophesied what would come in the “last days.” We often think of this as the “end times,” and envision the robed and bearded man, all cartoon-like, walking the city with a sign that reads, “Repent. The end is near.” But here the “last days” are about the completion of God’s plan, the fulfillment of all He has promised His people. The first anticipation of hope Isaiah brings is found in chapter 2:
In the last daysThis foretells a time when God will reign over all the nations of the earth, from His holy city, Zion. They will all come to His mountain, to the house of the Lord, His temple, the place where He dwells on earth. From there He will send forth His Word into all the world and disciple the nations in His ways. The Lord will judge between the nations and set everything right. There will be no more need for the implements of war — there will be no more war.
the mountain of the LORD’s house will be established
at the top of the mountains
and will be raised above the hills.
All nations will stream to it,
and many peoples will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,For instruction will go out of Zion
to the house of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us about His ways
so that we may walk in His paths.”
and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He will settle disputes among the nations
and provide arbitration for many peoples.
They will turn their swords into plows
and their spears into pruning knives.
Nations will not take up the sword against other nations,
and they will never again train for war.
House of Jacob, come and let us walk in the LORD’s light.
(Isaiah 2:2-5 HCSB)
This began to be fulfilled when Jesus was born in Bethlehem. The Word, who was God, became flesh and “dwelt” — literally, “tabernacled” among us (John 1:1, 14). God became present with us as a human being through Jesus the God-man, who is fully human as well as fully divine.
After the cross and resurrection, and before Jesus ascended to His throne in heaven at the right hand of the Father, Jesus gathered His disciples and declared: “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). Then He commissioned them to go out into the world:
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20)This is the instruction of the Lord going forth from Zion, His word going forth from Jerusalem to all the nations. At the end of Revelation, the end of “the Book,” and the end of the age, we see God’s holy city, Jerusalem, coming down and joining heaven to earth.
You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God ...Here is the mountain of the Lord, the Holy City and the Temple where God dwells forever with His people. It is the kingdom of God come into the world, the will of God being done on earth exactly as it is being done in heaven. Here are all the nations of the world bringing all their glory to honor King Jesus the Lamb. And here they all find their healing and restoration — the Tree of Life.
But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it ...
And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 21:9-10, 22-26; 2:1-2 )
At Advent, we prepare our hearts to celebrate the coming of the Lord Jesus into the world at Bethlehem two thousand years ago, even as we live in the present reality of His Lordship and watch for His future coming — and the fulfillment of all things. Let us go up to the mountain of the Lord and walk in His light.
Let Earth Receive Her King
Advent, Christmas and the Kingdom of God
by Jeff Doles
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