Wonder: Prophecy of His Coming

The years and years of waiting for the Messiah were not silent.  

The prophets filled those waiting years with words about whom their Savior would be, how He would be born, and what He would come to do. Their words would have filled the Israelites with anticipation of what it would be like when the Messiah finally came.

 

On this Christmas Eve, the final day of anticipation before celebrating the Savior’s birth, instead of reading my words, let’s read some of these words written about Jesus before He ever came.

 

Some of these prophecies speak words about what Jesus did when He arrived on earth and lived as a human. Some speak about what He will do when He comes back to this earth again.

 

 

Old Testament prophecies should fill us with wonder at the greatness of the One Who came to save us.

 

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel. – Genesis 3:15

 

The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his. – Genesis 49:10

 

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

 

The people walking in darkness     have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness     a light has dawned. - Isaiah 9:2

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. – Isaiah 9:6-7

 

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord— and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. – Isaiah 11:1-5

 

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior." – Jeremiah 23:5-6

 

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past. - Micah 5:2

 

Tomorrow we celebrate the birth of our Messiah. The fulfillment of these prophecies has begun.

 

That is the wonderful news of Christmas.

 

Wonder: Rediscover the Christmas Story is an Advent series designed to help us pause and reflect on how amazing the stories of Jesus’ birth really are. To break through the cluttered busyness of the season and touch our hearts with the awe of what God has done. Let’s make this a season of wonder and worship, marveling together at our great God.

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Wonder: Bringing Down the Wonder

Tammy Perlmutter is great at making connections online and I am glad we found each other. She writes with vulnerability and sees beauty in broken pieces and unexpected places. Her post closes out the guest posts for this series. I hope it resonates with those of you who are feeling broken today.

 

I'm not known for my patience, and sadly it seems as though this trait has been passed on to my daughter. But we wait differently. I wait for good things to happen, but don't expect much. Phoenix waits for good things to happen with unfiltered excitement, joy,and expectation. She literally jumps up and down ecstatically. She is certain that good is coming her way.  

 

My jaded cynicism casts a gloominess on my expectation. I hold back excitement to protect myself from disappointment. When something good does finally come along, I worry about when something bad is going to happen next. I am not certain good is coming my way.

 

Christmas had become a time of severe loneliness and sadness for me, I didn't know how to find joy in the birth of Jesus. The longer nights and darker days leave me feeling bereft, slightly hopeless, and desperate for a new year to start. Since the Christmas wonder had not yet descended on me, I had to bring it down myself.

 

What I needed was to prepare my heart for his coming. I had to choose joy. We bought the advent wreath and the candles. We created our own Advent readings. My heart did grow brighter with each lighting of the candles. I witnessed the radiance magnified with each flame. I begun to anticipate Jesus' birth in a different way.

 

As the flickering grew with each sulfur hiss, my heart grew quiet with hope, but with the hope was a homesickness. In the midst of all the busyness, conflict, events, responsibilities, connections, and blessings, was a longing for home, that place where I would find true rest and true restoration. I would meet the Person who had been preparing a place for me for so many years. I'm growing impatient with myself and this world.

 

The first Advent was recorded in the Book of Isaiah. This prophecy stated that the virgin would conceive and give birth to a son, and he would be named Immanuel. Between the time of Isaiah's prophecy and the ministry of Jesus 680 years had passed. That was a long time waiting. The need for a savior hasn't lessened with time. If anything, it's grown more desperate.

 

It was dark then and it's dark now, some would even argue it's darker, others would say there's nothing new under the sun. For all our enlightenment, scientific advancements, medical breakthroughs, economic progress, and improved quality of life, our lives and times are shadowy still. The horizon may be glowing a bit brighter than before, but we are still in the twilight of our waiting. We still need a savior and our dark hearts still need saving. It's still Advent. Even now, we are waiting, like the people and the prophets, for salvation, deliverance, rescue.

 

He's still coming. But we're not waiting 25 days or 680 years. It's been over 2,000 years and counting. Our hearts are heavy with waiting. We are homesick with longing for a place we've never seen. For all my "savedness" at times my heart is still drawn to darkness, I grow weary waiting for my deliverance and I substitute what I need for what I want. I give in. I give up. I settle for less. The hope of the future means nothing to me in those moments. I get hopeless. I get lost in the shadows.

 

I need Jesus to be born again in my heart again and again, when my hope is dwindling and my spirit is darkening. I need this Morning Star, this Light of the World, because I am as dark as a Bethlehem night. This week in Advent we light the candle for hope, while the light breaks through on the horizon. It's dark and dim and dreary here, but the Light is coming. It feels like an eternity, but he promised he would return for us. So we wait, in expectation of the good, with childlike hearts and certain hope, for our homecoming. And hope does not disappoint.

 


About Today's Guest Blogger: Tammy Perlmutter

I grew up in Philadelphia, and in those formative years I was raised in a river-front ghetto, the suburb where M. Night Shyamalan films all his movies, the Pocono mountains and the Jersey shore. I loved it all (except the suburb), and was taught to find beauty and wonder in sometimes unlikely places: curbside cast-offs, junk yards, abandoned houses, railroad tracks, mechanic shops and even a family  friend’s mortuary. My blog is Raggle-Taggle and I tweet @tammygrrrl.

 

Wonder: Rediscover the Christmas Story is an Advent series designed to help us pause and reflect on how amazing the stories of Jesus’ birth really are. To break through the cluttered busyness of the season and touch our hearts with the awe of what God has done. Let’s make this a season of wonder and worship, marveling together at our great God.

Advent Series Day 25- come and worship

Merry Christmas! It has not been easy to get to today. We have endured long car rides and busy airports. We have baked, cleaned, decorated, and crafted. We have worked extra hours. We have navigated sticky family dynamics.

There has been a lot to do. Some has been beautiful. Much has been stressful. Yet, we do it every year. We do it because we think it is worth it. We think that seeing family, watching joy on kids’ faces, and celebrating with those we love is worth extra effort.

So, it is appropriate to wrap up the Advent series by looking at a group who also had a lot to overcome. Yet, they thought it was worth it.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.  – Matthew 2:1-12

“Magi” comes from a Persian word referring to an expert in studying the stars. The Magi were worshipers of the heavens, not of Yahweh. Yet, when this star appeared, they recognized that it meant something more. They came to worship the Messiah.

The Magi likely came from Babylon, since that was a center for the study of the stars. A caravan would have to travel about 1000 miles to get from Babylon to Jerusalem. This was not a journey of days. It was a journey of months. Perhaps even a year. {The idea that this was a long journey is reinforced by 1) fact that the Magi came to a “child” at a “house,” not an “infant” at a “manger” and 2) because Herod kills all males age 2 and under in Bethlehem, “in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.” (Matthew 2:16)}

The journey would have taken much time, energy, and resources to complete. Yet, the Magi did it. They came to worship the Messiah.

This group of Magi, who had no connections to Israel or its prophecies, made an incredible journey to worship Jesus. They dropped their lives as they knew them before. They used their resources to collect gifts fit for a king. They used their time and energy to make a long journey. It took a lot, but they knew it was worth it. {This is in contrast to Israel’s own leaders, who tell the Magi where to find Jesus, but don’t even make the effort to investigate themselves.}

The Magi were outsiders. Yet, God welcomed them just as if they had been a part of His family their entire lives. God led them through a star. God spoke to them in a dream. God recorded their story in the Bible for future generations to hear.

Just as the light of the star led outsiders to Jesus when He was born, those who know this truth are called to be a light to lead outsiders to Jesus now.

As we celebrate, let’s share the story of God’s love and salvation come to earth. Let’s share the message of Christmas:

It does not matter where your journey has taken you before. What matters is where your journey takes you now. It may be difficult. You may have to give up some things. But it is worth it. Jesus came to this world to rescue you. He is Your Savior. Believe in Him, and your sins are forgiven. Believe in Him, and your relationship with God is restored. Believe in him, and your life has a new purpose.

The Messiah has come. The message is for all. Come and worship.