The First Advent
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
The term Advent (from the Latin, Adventus) literally means “coming.” As such, Advent is a season in which the Christian church celebrates the coming in flesh of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Advent Church calendar is rife with traditions from biblical readings to the successive lighting of candles on an Advent wreath.
The glory of Advent finds its genesis in Old Testament prophecies that point forward to the coming incarnation of Christ. Moses’ prophecy that God would raise up a prophet like him from among the Israelites (Deuteronomy 18:15) typologically points forward to the Prophet, Jesus Christ. Within the context of the Old Testament, the prophecy that God would raise up another prophet like Moses was fulfilled in the fore-future in Joshua, who led the children of Israel into the Promised Land (see Deuteronomy 31). In addition to its near-future fulfillment in Joshua, this prophecy came to be understood as pointing forward to an eschatological prophet who would lead the people of God as a new Moses and a new Joshua. As Joshua (meaning “salvation”) led the children of Israel into the land of promise, so Jesus will lead His people into “the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God” (Revelation 21:2).
The Gospel of John reveals that this hope was alive and well in the first century AD (cf. John 1:21; 6:14; 7:40), and Stephen implicitly identifies Jesus as the ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy in the impassioned sermon for which he was martyred (Acts 7:37–38). In this way, both Moses’ prophecy and its near-future fulfillment in Joshua serve as types of the great Prophet of God who not only spoke the words of God but was Himself the Word become flesh (John 1:14; cf. Hebrews 1:1–2).
The beauty of the gospel is that Abraham (the father of many nations) was promised a royal seed—and that seed is Christ. However, as the apostle Paul explains, all who are clothed in Christ constitute one congruent chosen covenant community connected by the cross. “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29). The “mystery” is this, says Paul, “that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers
together in the promise in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 3:6).