My mother did a great job at Advent and creating traditions. We had candles we lit every night, Bible verses we recited every evening, an advent calendar, and many other things that created a wonder land of excitement leading up to Christmas day! Her children, in turn, have all created our own advent traditions including calendars, wreathes, activities, and so on.
Some of us (ahem...Blythe…) put their Christmas tree up before December and start preparations for Christmas even before Thanksgiving. Some of us (ahem…me!) need to get through one holiday at a time for sanity’s sake. But celebrating Christmas can totally mesh into Thanksgiving (although I’m glad my kids don’t yet know the amazing possibilities of starting Christmas in November! Ha!).
As I’ve reflected on Advent, which really crept up on me this year, I have been thinking about how Advent is kind of a picture of the entire Old Testament. Just as we wait each December day for the day to celebrate the King’s birth, the Old Testament waited for the Promised One for thousands of years! The Old Testament is filled with foreshadows of the One to come, Jesus!
Did you know that Jesus was promised in Genesis? After Adam and Eve sinned, God told the serpent in Genesis 3, I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel. Satan could only bruise the Promised One’s heel while the Promised One would crush him completely on the cross and ultimately, when He comes again. This prophecy was just the beginning of thousands of years of spiritual battles where Satan would try to wipe out the promised Messiah, never succeeding.
God promised Abraham a son and yet years went by, making it seem impossible. Sarah and Abraham were getting very old. Sarah took matters into her own hands and hired her maidservant to be the mother of the Promised One. But that’s not what God intended. He superseded Sarah’s intentions and still gave her the Promised One. He surpassed normal human biology and Sarah became pregnant. The Seed would continue although so many things seemed in the way.
The story of Joseph isn’t just about his colorful coat! If Joseph had not gone through all he went through, he would never have saved his brothers, thus preserving the Seed of the Promised One. He was the one who ultimately helped his father and brothers not starve to death. One of his brothers was Judah. Judah, the Seed, was the great, great, great-grandfather of Jesus.
David’s life was spared time and time again. David prophesied about being the Seed that Jesus would come through, He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever (II Samuel7). David was pursued by many people, including the Philistines, Saul, and his own son, and yet God kept him and preserved the Seed.
Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the minor prophets are filled with lamentations and prophecies of the pain the Israelites went through. They suffered turmoil, pain, and being moved in and out of their land for hundreds of years under excruciating circumstances.
Yet throughout history, God preserved a remnant of His people through which the True Seed—the Head-Crusher—would come and fulfill all that was said of Him. God didn’t keep His promise because these men or women were better than others. It was simply because of His character and His love and the promise that started in the Garden of Eden.
All of these pictures are the Bible’s own Advent. They all point to the Messiah—the Savior whom we celebrate at the end of our December Advent. Much of the Old Testament points to the reason we celebrate at Christmas, similarly to our nativity sets and Advent calendars. Our lights and decorations and presents are only a weak mirror of the joy we have as we await to celebrate the first coming of the King! So while we prepare and enjoy each day, remember that this has been long, long in coming. The Bible spent thousands of years getting ready for this baby in a manger. This only shows the gravity of the meaning of the Messiah.
Let us take our Advent days slowly this year, soaking up the majesty and greatness of the King, and let us rejoice! He has come!