Confession. I’m not good at waiting.
I’m working on it. Have been. For at least…well, let’s just say, a lot of years!
This is one (just one) reason I am always both amazed and encouraged when I read of the promises of a Messiah to the people of Israel.
First, the promise. Through his trickery and scheming, Satan had brought a curse upon Adam, Eve and their offspring. Adam and Eve’s sin separated them and their offspring from God. More than a millennium before the birth of Jesus, God, knowing man’s proclivity to sin, promised One would come, seed of the woman, and He would bring Satan’s destruction and man’s deliverance (Genesis 3).
Then, the anticipation. Surely it began with Adam and Eve when the Scriptures tell us that “Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived” (Genesis 4:1a). Was this the seed? Was this the Savior? Through the years the Jews anticipated the promised Messiah – a savior who would restore the former glory of Kingdom of Israel. From the Mosaic Covenant (The Old Testament), we know that God kept His promises, thus the Jews rightly and wisely expected and anticipated the fulfillment of the messianic prophecy. Surely with each struggle, each war, each captivity, the Jews anticipated their coming Savior. Their rabbis, scribes and Jewish priests had taught them that the Messiah would not just come but would overcome their enemies. Surely many women wondered if their seed would be the Savior.
Finally, the wait. Daniel, the prophet of the Biblical book of Daniel, prophesied the year of the Messiah’s arrival saying that the Messiah would come 483 years after the orders would be given to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. Keep in mind that by the time we get to Daniel’s day, hundreds of years have already passed since God’s promise to Adam and Eve. Still, they waited.
They waited, yes! But they waited in anticipation, expecting, attentive and in hope. They did not wait passively with crossed fingers; they did not just endure their hardships. They had set their sights on a promise from their faithful God. Theirs was a posture of waiting.
Ours, too, is to be a posture of waiting.
In one of his sermons, John Henry Newman wrote, “We are not simply to believe, but to watch; not simply to love, but to watch; not simply to obey, but to watch; to watch for what? For the great event – Christ’s coming!”
So what exactly is our posture of waiting? It is those actions Newman noted between the “watching.” We are to believe, to love, to obey.
Advent is a yearly reminder, a yearly opportunity and a yearly invitation to check our posture.