Sunday, November 28, is the first Sunday in the Christian season of Advent. Advent (meaning “arrival” or “coming”) emphasizes preparation for the coming of Messiah and the celebration of his birth at Christmas. Many Christians mark these four weeks with Advent calendars, wreaths, candles and scripture readings which emphasize themes of hope, peace, love, and joy.
In Advent we remember the first coming of our Lord, his ministry, his sacrificial death and his bodily resurrection. It also reminds us of his promised second coming. We are taught to prepare ourselves to meet him when he comes again. Advent is a season of anticipation, hope, and of spiritual preparation.
Perhaps you receive, as I do, Christmas letters from relatives and friends. They usually contain news of the sender’s family and experiences of the past year. They always express good wishes for a happy Christmas. For my theme for Advent this year I want to take a look at four Christmas letters from the Bible which anticipate the arrival of the Christ, both his first and second comings.
The first is a communication from David, who prophesied the rebellion of the world civilization in rejecting Messiah when he came: “The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed” (Psalm 2:2). The New Testament quotes this (Acts 4:25-26) to refer to the rejection and crucifixion of Jesus.
David’s Advent letter records the response of Almighty God. He laughs at the pathetic arrogance of humanity. The one who sits in the heavens “scoffs at them, He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath saying, ‘I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain'” (Psalm 2:4-5). Here is a prophetic picture of the return of Christ in his glorious earthly kingdom. He will reign in power and perfect justice from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth (Psalm 2:8).
The psalm prophesies Messiah’s resurrection from the dead. “You are my son,” God says, speaking through David, “today I have become your father” (Psalm 2:7). What day is the psalm referring to? The New Testament gives us the answer. According to Paul (Acts 13:27-33; Romans 1:4), it was the day of Jesus’ resurrection that was the final proof of the fact that Jesus was eternally and always the son of God.
He was the son of God before he came to earth. He was the son of God at his conception in the womb of the virgin Mary and his birth. He was the son of God at his baptism. He was the son of God at his transfiguration on the holy mountain. But the apostles had it revealed to them that God explicitly declared Jesus to be his son when he raised him from the dead. They interpreted Psalm 2 accordingly.
This Advent letter closes with an invitation for you and me to “take refuge in him” (Psalm 2:12). This is an appeal to our hearts, our minds, and our wills. “Be wise,” David writes, appealing to the mind. “Serve the Lord with fear.” This reminds us of the repeated maxim that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 9:10).
“Celebrate his rule with trembling,” is an appeal to the heart (Psalm 2:11). “Celebrate” is another way of saying “rejoice!” Joyfully submit to his reign in your life. “With trembling” has the connotation of awe and reverence before a mighty and glorious king.
“Kiss the son” (Psalm 2:12) evokes an ancient way for a subject to do homage before a royal king. This is an act of the will. Jesus is Lord and those who worship him in truth bow in humility before his majesty. The appeal to “take refuge in him” is equivalent to the New Testament word for “believe” or “trust.” No matter how severe his judgments against a rebellious world, the Lord Jesus is always patient and kind toward those who come to him in humility and sincere faith.
Advent teaches us that Jesus came and he is coming. It is wise to be ready.
Pastor Randy Faulkner