Advent: Those who wait shall renew their strength

waitingAdvent: Those who wait shall renew their strength

Please read Isaiah 40: 9-31

As I wrote yesterday, Advent characterizes patiently waiting for the Lord. The Israelites had to wait for a very long period of 400 years after the last prophet spoke to them. The prophets played a key role in the lives of Hebrews. In fact, the prophets were one of the three religious institutions in the Old Testament; the other two being the priests and the kings. The prophets, therefore, played a pivotal role in building anticipation for the Advent of the coming Messiah—Jesus Christ. In times of trouble, darkness, silence, and hopelessness, the prophets brought hope and encouragement to the people of God. The prophets keenly observed the world around them and declared what was wrong with it. They also preached that a better world was needed. In order for a better world, the prophets proclaimed, they needed a better King who would act justly and establish justice. The prophets also preached that people, who contributed to making the world a corrupt and unjust world, needed to repent and turn from their sinful ways. Only when the people repented and accepted the new order that the Messiah brings in will they be able to usher in a new and better world.

The Prophet Isaiah in particular announced that anticipating all this to happen in our world is a matter of patiently waiting. That’s why he announces that there’s even a huge incentive for those who chose to wait upon the Lord:

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40: 31 ESV).

Notice here that Isaiah doesn’t mean we remain idle as wait upon the Lord to come back as the ruling King of his Kingdom on earth. To wait is not that we just mark our time. Rather, it’s to be active on his behalf for the kingdom, working towards its fulfillment in the here and now. That’s why he uses three verbs in the above verse: we shall “mount up… run…walk…” That provides a vivid picture of what we should be doing as we wait upon the Lord. Isaiah says the Lord knows when we wait upon him. He knows that as human beings it’s against our nature to wait. He knows that we will become weary and worn out through waiting and trusting upon God. Therefore, he has also provided for an incentive, i.e., he will renew our strength when we become weary of waiting. The incentive to renew our strength is clearly for the purpose of getting more involved in his Kingdom as the three verbs describe for us. God knows that we’re not made to be sitting apathetic but to engage with the world. Therefore, he’s also willing to supply us the needed strength, through the Holy Spirit, to mount up like eagles, to soar higher, to run faster, and to walk with sprint in our feet, to do his will on earth as it’s done in heaven!

Amen. Have a blessed week ahead!

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Advent : A time to wait upon the Lord

waiting

Advent : A time to wait upon the Lord
Please read Isaiah 64: 1-9

Christmas is a time of so much rush and busyness for most believers that there are just not enough hours in a day and days in a month to accomplish all we are supposed to do for Christmas. The West has so much commercialized Christmas that we often forget what it is all about—the birth of the Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord. Therefore, it’s high time for us that we take Advent, the holy season preceding the birth of Christ, as a time when we wait upon the Lord instead of rushing to do things for Christmas. Remember, the Israelites were sent several prophets with a clear message about the coming Messiah. But then, after the last Prophet Malachi put his pen down, there ensued a period of complete silence. It was a period of silence for 400 long years. A period that some have also called the darkest period in the history of Israel. It’s rightly called the darkest period because God was the quietest during this long time. The Israelites were used to hearing the Word of God proclaimed through the Prophets as the writer of Hebrews says: “God, at various times and in different ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets” (Hebrews1:1). But after Malachi, the prophecies ceased and there was no voice of God until John the Baptist was sent by God to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah.
So Advent is a good time to begin instilling some stillness into our days in a very busy world. It’s a time to patiently wait for the Messiah to show up in our lives and transform us into his image and likeness. Prophet Isaiah reminds us in 64: 4,

“Since ancient times no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.”

The biblical God unlike other gods has attributes like patience, compassion, and long-suffering. Therefore, he’s also eager in acting on behalf of those would wait for him. I know from personal experience that waiting is not easy. I’m an impatient man and I don’t like waiting for anything. However, God wants us to wait. Advent teaches us to wait because waiting means that I continue to believe and trust in God when all others have given up. When others are no longer hoping for God to show up, waiting means I depend on God’s timing rather than my own timing. Waiting teaches us to believe in the here and now and to get involved in expanding the Kingdom of God instead of idly sitting around and hoping for the rapture to take us away from this world.

I really hope and pray that this Advent season, you will slow down and draw near to God to patiently learn to wait upon him. Christmases will come and go, what is more important is learn to wait upon the Lord and to learn to trust in him and in his perfect timing.

Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus.