Monday, November 30, 2009
Current Study: Advent
Today’s Topic: The God of Hope
Scripture Reading: John 5:45-46 “But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.”
Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent. The word advent is from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming”. It is a season of the Christian church, specifically the period of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus.
The Latin word adventus is the translation of the Greek word parousia, and is commonly used in reference to the future Second Coming of Christ. As Christians we believe that the season of Advent serves a dual purpose: it is a reminder of the original waiting that was done by the Hebrews for the birth of the Messiah as well as the expectant waiting that Christians today endure for the second coming of Christ.
The significance of waiting for the Second Coming of Jesus is absolutely dependent upon the truth of His first coming as God in human flesh. Any rejection of the truth of the incarnation of Christ removes any hope for the Second Coming. If the truth is rejected that the birth of Jesus introduced the Savior to the world, then fear will overwhelm any thoughts of His Second Coming. Hope in the future coming of Jesus is destroyed by neglecting the truth that His incarnation was necessary so that we could be forgiven for our sin.
When people deny their personal need for salvation, they place their hope in people or things that will eventually condemn them. Jesus attempted to teach this lesson to the Pharisees in John 5. The Pharisees were the law enforcement agency of Israel. They had declared themselves to be righteous by their strict obedience to every detail of the Old Testament law. But that was not enough. They expanded the law to cover every miniscule detail of life and held people in fear and bondage with an ever-watchful eye. They pinned their hopes of salvation on the law of Moses and how they interpreted it for everyday life.
But Moses was not their Savior, and would instead become their accuser before the Father. The hope of the people had been ignorantly placed in the wrong person. If only they had read the writings of Moses with spiritual eyes that were open rather than eyes blinded by personal ambition and recognition. If they had, they would have read in Genesis 3:15 that an offspring of Eve would one day crush the head of Satan, a clear prophecy of the coming of Christ the Messiah.
Or they would have understood that when Moses recalled the story of God’s covenant with Abraham, the father of their nation, he referred to Jesus Christ. God told Abraham “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:2-3) Abraham knew what that meant. Jesus confirmed it when He said “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” (John 8:56)
The Pharisees should also have seen that when Moses wrote the record of the life of Jacob, later named Israel, and the blessing he bestowed on his twelve sons who would become the twelve tribes of their nation, he referred to the coming King whose reign would bring eternal obedience. Jacob said to his son Judah, The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his. (Genesis 49:10)
And they certainly would have understood that the Messiah would be the prophet to whom they were to listen if they had discerned the truth of Deuteronomy 18:15 which says, The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him.
Because they had not clearly read the Scriptures, they missed the Messiah when He came. They rejected the truth of Jesus. They believed in the coming of a Messiah, but when He came they missed him because they had not accepted the truth of who He would be.
Many today will miss the Second Coming of Christ because they have rejected the truth of the first coming of Jesus. They have no joyful expectation of the “blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13) because they have pinned their hopes on the wrong thing. Someday, when they stand before God as judge and try to proclaim their worth to enter heaven, everything they hoped in will declare them guilty. Their money will not buy their way in. Their reputation will be tarnished eternally by the truth of their sinful nature. Their good works will be revealed as filthy rags when the light of the glory of God shines on them. All they hoped for will be lost, and they will stand condemned.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we must tell them about Jesus. They need to discover true hope.