Have you ever read the first seventeen verses of Matthew 1?
These verses describe, “This dude begot this dude, who begot this dude,” and so on. For seventeen verses. It drags on a bit.
It’s basically Jesus’ family tree, starting with Abraham and going all the way to Joseph (Mary’s husband, not the one with the coat of many colors). Matthew breaks it down into three sections: from Abraham to David (the rise and peak of Israel), from David to the captivity in Babylon (the fall of Israel), and from captivity until the birth of Jesus (the culmination of the covenant with Abraham). And while everyone loved David, and Solomon was all right, everything went downhill from there.
But it seemed like things were getting better when the Israelites returned to Jerusalem and the Promised Land. Starting around 516 B.C, a handful of prophets described the restoration: Haggai, Zechariah, Nehemiah, Ezra, Esther, and Malachi. God’s people had returned to the home He had promised them!
But then, after Malachi died around 400 B.C., God stopped speaking.
Now, a lot of things happened in the world during this span of centuries. Alexander the Great ruled and died. The Great Wall of China was built. Julius Caesar became a meme (Et tu, Brute?). The world around the Israelites was hopping.
But in Israel, there wasn't even a whisper. The voice of God was gone.
Maybe it was the calm before the storm. A thunderstorm brings torrential rain and sweeping wind sending everyone scattering for cover. And in the few minutes preceding the blast, everything is quiet. No wind. No rain. No birds chirping. All is quiet before all hell breaks loose.
Or maybe it was like the beach before a tidal wave. When a giant wall of water is coming, the level at the beach drops as the waves are sucked out into the ocean to join the tsunami.
Maybe God was inhaling. Before singing, you’ve got to breathe in so that you can produce the force of air needed to project your voice over the audience. Maybe, just like God breathed into Adam’s nostrils of dirt to bring him to life, God exhaled into Jesus to give birth to the second Adam through Mary. God's silence was His sharp intake of breath before God became man in a Song still echoing in our ears.
I don’t know why God got quiet. The time from the captivity in Babylon to the coming of the Messiah was over 500 years. And God was silent for 400 of those years.
That’s a long time to wait.
What are you waiting for this Advent season?
More importantly, what should you do in the waiting room?
Because God always had, and has, a plan. And while many in Israel had given up hope of the promised Messiah, someone still waited. And prepared. And saw the newborn King.
If you are in a season of waiting, maybe even of silence, don’t give up hope. The promise is coming. Now is our time to prepare for the arrival.
If it feels like I'm leaving you hanging, I am. This is not a time to wrap it up with a pretty bow. Marinate in the season Israel was in as they awaited the Messiah. Develop a longing for the coming of the King.
This week we focus on preparation. Read a Bible passage each day about the preparation for Jesus. Journal each day as you discover what God has in store for you in this season of waiting and preparing.
Over the next week, read these and ponder on the promise fulfilled and the one yet to come.
Sunday (12/10) - Matthew 1:1-17; Malachi 3:1
Monday (12/11) - Luke 1:5-25, 1:57-80
Tuesday (12/12) – Isaiah 40:3-5; Matthew 3:1-5
Wednesday (12/13) - Luke 2:25-36
Thursday (12/14) - Matthew 25:1-13
Friday (12/15) - Luke 17:22-37, 22:29-36
Saturday (12/16) - Matthew 25:31-46; John 14:3
"Father, give us patience in the preparation. We confess our sins and ask You to cleanse us as we prepare our lives for the coming of Jesus. This we ask in His name. Amen."
Music to meditate on:
Lyrics: The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns
1 The King shall come when morning dawns and light triumphant breaks, when beauty gilds the eastern hills, and life to joy awakes.
2 Not as of old a little child to bear, and fight, and die, but crowned with glory like the sun that lights the morning sky.
3 O brighter than the rising morn when He, victorious, rose and left the lonesome place of death, despite the rage of foes.
4 O brighter than that glorious morn shall this fair morning be, when Christ, our King, in beauty comes, and we His face shall see.
5 The King shall come when morning dawns, and earth's dark night is past: O haste the rising of that morn, the day that aye shall last.
6 And let the endless bliss begin, by weary saints foretold, when right shall triumph over wrong, and truth shall be extolled.
7 The King shall come when morning dawns, and light and beauty brings; "Hail, Christ the Lord!" Thy people pray, come quickly, King of kings!
Lyrics: The People that in Darkness Sat
The people that in darkness sat A glorious light have seen; The light has shined on them who long In shades of death have been, In shades of death have been.
To hail you, Sun of Righteous, The gathering nations come; They joy as when the reapers bear Their harvest treasures home, Their harvest treasures home.
To us the Child of hope is born, To us the Son is given, And on his shoulder ever rests All power in earth and heaven, All power in earth and heaven.
His name shall be the Prince of Peace, The Everlasting Lord, The Wonderful, the Counselor, The God by all adored, The God by all adored.
His righteous government and power Shall over all extend; On judgment and on justice based, His reign shall have no end, His reign shall have no end.
Lord Jesus, reign is us, we pray, And make us yours alone, Who with the Father ever are And Holy spirit, one, And Holy spirit, one.
For further study about Advent:
If you'd like a different perspective on Advent, my friend Ryan Sanders is sharing a daily walk through this season. It's a short read that is well worth your time. You can find it here: http://www.theryansanders.com/blog/.