It makes me uncomfortable to talk about the second coming of Christ. I mean, on the one hand, it makes sense. If God began His redemption plan in Jesus, certainly He would complete it through the same Savior.
But on the other hand, we live in a world filled with so much hatred and greed and poverty and corruption. I want to know why God chose to work the way He did. Why didn’t He just save us all at once? Why didn’t the coming of Jesus to earth as a human bring peace, hope, joy, and perfection once and for all?
Sometimes, I don’t understand God’s plan.
These kinds of questions are not new. In fact, they echo what many were wondering before Christ came the first time.
In between the books of Malachi and Matthew in our Bibles, there is just one page that says “New Testament.” That simple page represents 400 years of silence. 400 years without prophets encouraging the people that the promises of Yahweh would be fulfilled some day. And at the same time as the silence, Israel faced oppression. They were ruled by Rome. The supposed chosen nation of God was not independent.
I can hear that deep, difficult question rumbling through the people of Israel as they went about their daily lives. “Where are you, God?"
It was in the midst of this question that Jesus was born. And when He came, so many people in Israel missed it. They stopped waiting and they missed celebrating Love come to earth in the flesh.
Many gave up on waiting because the timing just seemed so outrageous to them. Why so long, God? Why, 1000 years after the reign of King David, have you still not sent the Messiah?
Because in God’s sovereign, wise, and impeccable plan, this was perfect timing.
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. – Luke 2:1-4
Even in these few verses in the beginning of Luke 2, God shows us that Jesus’ birth happened at the exact right time. The prophets foretold that the Messiah would be called a Nazarene, but be born in Bethlehem. God used a census, and the fulfillment of another prophecy that the Messiah would be from the line of David, to bring these complicated facets together.
The timing of Jesus birth was exactly perfect for every prophecy to be fulfilled and every hope to be realized. And not just the hope of Israel, but the hope of the world. The fact that Israel was ruled by Rome did not mean Israel was forgotten, but that the conditions were perfectly right for the news of Jesus to spread to the nations.
Now we, people from one of those other nations, are people living in waiting once again. It’s been more than 2000 years since Christ came. The Bible says He will come again to make all things right. Though that promise is meant to give us hope, it may also fill us with “why so long?” questions.
The Advent season is here to remind us to not give up on waiting.
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. – 2 Peter 3:8-9
Yes, this world is still in need of its ultimate rescue. And we yearn for that day. But we can have hope that once again God’s timing will be perfect. God is not slow because He forgot, but because He wants more people to hear His message. The message that Christ, His Son, came to earth. That through His birth, life, death, and resurrection, He brought hope to the world. That through Him we have grace, the forgiveness of sins, peace with God, and the promise of everlasting life.
In this Advent season, as we wait, let’s share that message. Let’s remind people what we really celebrate at Christmas. The birth of our Savior.
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.