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.

—Isaiah 9:6

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).

 

Reading

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.”

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. (Matthew 1:18–25)

Questions

What does the term advent mean?

How did Joshua foreshadow Jesus?

Christmas Carol

O Holy Night
—John S. Dwight, based upon a French poem by
Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure

O Holy Night! the stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand;
So led by the light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here came the wise men from Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger,
In all our trials born to be our Friend;
He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger.
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother,
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name;
Christ is the Lord, O, praise His name forever!
His power and glory evermore proclaim!
His power and glory evermore proclaim!