Advent – Part 3

Peter Leithart writes from a Christmas post he did five years ago about how NT Wright ruined Christmas carols for him because Advent which is the season of our Lord’s arrival is more about bringing hope to Israel and fulfilling a prophetic longing of the Restoration of all things.  He writes:

What does Simeon sing about? When he takes the infant Jesus into his arms, he blessed God: “Let your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation.” And what is that? Access to heaven? Forgiveness of sins? No: “the light of revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.”

The angelic hymn to the shepherds should be understood in that context. Peace on earth is not some lefty pipe dream. It’s the promise of peace for Israel, and therefore peace for the nations.

Much of the readings in the Book of Common Prayer during the Advent season is prophetic which looks forward to the Christ Child’s arrival and the type of hope which he will bring to Israel.  It is about a longing.  A longing for Christ to God to set things right in the world (God’s judgment), to bring hope and peace, and to redeem and save the world from evil.  According to the prophet Isaiah, a great light will shine forth (Isaiah 60:1-3), and will bring salvation to all peoples both to Israel and to the nations (Isaiah 42:2, 42:6).  The righteousness that the prophets look for is justice, that is putting the world back in order the way the Lord intended it to be.  According to Kevin Antlitz, that longing to put things right both individually (the renovation project), and externally is all about the Lord’s righteousness.  He writes:

Perhaps the most poignant longing we ought to feel is the longing for Jesus to come back, to ultimately set things to rights. Even as the entire creation had been waiting for the incarnation, creation continues to groan, awaiting liberation from the bondage of decay when the Son of Man will come to fully establish His kingdom.

Advent reminds us of God’s promise and our hope: that Jesus will come again. When He comes, he will come in judgment and glory and the result of this advent shall be this:

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea (Isa 11:6-9).

In John Eldredge’s new book, All Things New, he writes that “the passage is clearly describing the kingdom of God operating in its fullness on earth-the renewal of all things.  And animals are clearly a part of it, praise of our loving Father.  But this time around-I can barely write this without trembling- the animal kingdom will be our joyful partners.” (Kindle Location 1181).  I can’t wait when I do cross over to the other side or if Jesus comes back to inaugurate his Kingdom, to hangout with my Chocolate Lab who passed in February of 2015.

It is more than just a renewal of all things and that I can see my pets who have passed, it is that in God’s kingdom, animals who were mortal enemies, the leopard and the goat, the calf and the lion will work together and be at peace with each other since God and his fullness  will reside with them.

That is what Advent is about.  It is more than just an arrival, it is more than just God’s incarnation, it is about true peace on earth where God will be our king and set things right.  His reign and rule will be on earth where everyone will live in harmony and be at peace with each other.

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