The Final Advent of Christ
Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.
They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or
mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
As there is a First Advent and a daily advent, so too there is a final Advent. Just as the focus of the First Advent is Christ coming in flesh, so too the focus of the Second Advent is Christ coming in flesh. This time, however, He will not come as a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manager; this time He will come as a bridegroom carrying His bride over the threshold of Jordan into the New Jerusalem. As Canaan provided temporal rest for the physical descendants of Abraham, the coming Christ will provide eternal rest for His spiritual descendants.
In the Final Advent, the land promises that God made to Abraham will be fully and finally consummated, in that Paradise lost will become Paradise restored. As such, Canaan is typological of a renewed cosmos. Indeed, Abraham, like Isaac and Jacob, viewed living in the Promised Land in much the same way that a stranger would view living in a foreign country. Why? Because as the writer of Hebrews makes plain that, “he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10). As such, Abraham looked beyond binding borders and boundaries to a day in which the meek would “inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5; cf. Psalm 37:11, 22).
I don’t know about you, but the more I think about the new heaven and the new earth, the more excited I get! It is simply incredible to think that one day soon we will not only experience the resurrection of our carcasses, but we will experience the renewal of the cosmos and the Final Advent of our Creator. We will literally have heaven on earth. Not only will we experience God’s fellowship as Adam and Eve did, but we will see the Second Adam face-to-face. God in flesh will live in our midst. And we will never come to the end of exploring the infinite, inexhaustible I AM or the grandeur and glory of His incomparable universe.
Those who die in Christ will experience the new heaven and the new earth as both a physical place in creation and as the personal presence of the Creator:
“The dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.
They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and
be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There
will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the
old order of things has passed away.’
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making
everything new!” (Revelation 21:3–5)
This Christmas, as you celebrate the First Advent of our Lord, may His presence in Word and Sacrament sustain you spiritually and may you fix your focus with eager anticipation on the Final Advent of the Babe of Bethlehem—now a Bridegroom returning with His Bride.