What is Advent? What does it signify? Is it important for us to know?
Advent is what is generally thought to be the season leading up to Jesus’ birth. It’s a time of expectant waiting, anticipation, and preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth and often focuses on the nativity of Jesus at Christmas time. Traditionally, Advent begins on the first Sunday of December but sometimes it falls on the last Sunday of November. It’s whichever Sunday is closest to November 30th. Peter wrote “Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories” (1st Pet 1:10-11). To the prophets “It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look” (1st Pet 1:12). The angels are holy and have no need to repent and believe (Mark 1:15) so they can’t about salvation and what it means to us. They can’t understand how the infinite separation that was caused by our sin (Isaiah 59:2) was closed by Jesus on the cross.
The word “advent” simply means “coming” or “an arrival” of someone or something and the arrival for Christians was 2,000 years ago that was life-and-death event that took place was in Bethlehem; Jesus coming to earth to become a man to die for man. That was the advent or arrival of our salvation in real time and space (1st Pet 1:10-12). During Advent there is a lot of eager expectation and anticipation for the arrival of Christmas but it all goes back to the arrival or coming of the One Who this is all about and that is Immanuel or Jesus Christ. Immanuel means “God with us” and now God would be with us and God would dwell with us in the flesh in the person of Jesus Christ (John 1:1, 14). The prophet Isaiah long ago wrote that “the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14) which is exactly what Matthew quoted (Matt 21:23).
The Second Advent
There is another advent coming but not like the first where salvation would is now open for anyone who repents and believes. The second advent or coming is different from the first as Jesus came as a baby, and was meek and humble and as Isaiah wrote “a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice” (42:3). Jesus says of Himself “He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out” (Matt 12:19-20). He came in as a lamb, the Lamb of God; but He comes in like a lion; the Lion of the Tribe of Judah and He will Judge all people who haven’t repented and believed in Him. The Apostle John writes “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen” (Rev 1:7) for “Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matt 24:30). They are mourning because they have heard about the gospel of Christ many times but have never obeyed Jesus’ command to repent and believe (Mark 1:16). Jesus will then look into the book of life and “if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:15). That is the Second Advent.
The Importance of the Advent
I believe the Advent season is a joyous time of year. Many people get to spend more time with family and friends. They often have time off from work. It is the highlight of the year for most people but the most important reason is that we are living in an age of grace. Some call it the “church age” where people still have time to repent and believe in Christ. Although most don’t, that doesn’t diminish the importance of the invitation being open. That age of grace is going to end. Will it be soon? I have no idea, but it is possible. The point is what the author of Hebrews writes, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion” (Heb 3:15). Paul puts it more urgently, “now is the day of salvation” (2nd Cor 6:2). Right now counts…forever! The more you hear the gospel or read it, the more responsible you become for that knowledge. Everyone will be accountable for what they know and then failing to do what they should have done (e.g. repent and believe). Some people hate God so much they read as many Christian articles that they can so that they can leave vicious comments and insults, name calling, and make derogatory remarks at the author, but each time they become more accountable for what they know in their hearts to be true (Rom 1:19-20). The more they reject the first Advent, the more their hearts are hardened and this will make it harder for them at the second advent of Jesus Christ. If that happens, God gives them up to their own devices (Rom 1:24) “because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen” (Rom 1:25). All we can do now is pray that God grants them repentance (2nd Tim 2:25) so that they might be saved.
The holidays are not the most joyful time of the year for the single person. The holidays are one of the most difficult times to go through for someone who’s lonely and have few friends. I would encourage you to do what my wife does for the singles in our community. She bakes these Christmas goods and hand delivers them to their home. It’s her “Christmas present” to her community and friends. You don’t have to bring baked goods but you can invite them over to your house during holidays.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.