The December days of my childhood were marked by numbered doors on an Advent calendar. Each day was one day closer to Christmas – so exciting!
December is a long month for a child, (and way too short for an adult.) Our Advent preparations consume about one month each year, but God planned for the first Christmas for thousands of years.
I wonder what God’s Advent calendar would have looked like?
Actually, we have it. It’s called the Old Testament.
The Old Testament story documents God’s redemptive plan as it unfolds in human history through the nation of Israel. We read of God’s blessing, discipline and grace as he dealt with human foolishness, sin and rebellion. Eventually, through historical events and the prophetic voice of God, the promise of a Redeemer became known as the “anointed one” (Messiah) from the line of David who would one day put everything right.
In the centuries immediately preceding Jesus’ birth, Israel’s longing for the promised Messiah grew especially intense.
It was a very long wait.
Finally, “the time came for the baby to be born…” Luke 2:6
Why so long? Why didn’t God just send Jesus sooner and save himself all that trouble?
Of course, only God knows, but we can ponder some possibilities.
God chose to break into history through a nation of people who would know, love, and serve him, and through whom Jesus would eventually be born. Since he started with one old guy and his infertile wife, it took a while.
Furthermore, historical events and prophecies were important pointers to Jesus’ birth. Without Messianic expectations no one would have recognized him. (In fact, many still didn’t.) The idea of the Creator of the universe coming to earth as a human baby is admittedly hard to imagine, and it can only be believed on the basis of God’s former observed actions in history and his prophecies fulfilled.
Perhaps part of God’s preparation for the first Christmas was time…
for God to prepare the nation and the family into which Jesus was born,
to develop the promise of a Messiah,
to allow people to experience the futility of their own efforts at salvation,
to recognize their deep need for a Savior,
and to build intense anticipation.
Just like that of a child opening doors on her Advent calendar.
Her parents, however, who are busily preparing loving gifts and a joyful celebration, experience the time quite differently. It goes faster, yes, but it is also a time to anticipate the delight of children opening good gifts on Christmas morning.
I wonder if that’s how God feels about the great Gift he prepared for us?
“This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Jesus Christ…” 2 Timothy, 1:9-10
How do you observe Advent? Do you have any other ideas about the timing of Jesus’s birth?
Anticipation…you say it so well.
Judy, I love your use of an Advent Calendar to speak about the historic time of waiting for Jesus to be born! The picture is just right too.
As a child, I also had an Advent Calendar and it was so much fun, so exciting – the tiny images behind the numbered doors were charming. My Mother couldn’t afford much for Christmas, but it was always loving and lovely, so much so, that afterwards I was kind of blue.
Now, does the Lord have His Second Advent Calendar? Now, are we opening doors too?
Hi Maria, I know what you mean about a post-Christmas emotional let down. It’s interesting that I often invest more emotional energy in the anticipation and remembrance of a moment than in the event itself. It’s really a wonderful extension of a slice of time in our emotional memories. And I love the two questions you ask. I suppose He does have a Second Advent Calendar, and we have a few clues to “open.” But I always think of how Jesus’ contemporaries missed so many of the pointers to his first arrival and wonder how many of the “doors” leading up to his second coming we’ll overlook. I guess we have a better chance of seeing clearly with the Holy Spirit. More to ponder…thanks for the thoughts!
Judy, yes, His contemporaries missed the pointers. I believe you’re right in thinking we are probably doing the same, and that none of us can say what fulfilled prophecy will look like until it is fulfiled. God bless you!
So blessed as you write how the Old Testament was God’s advent calendar! 🙂 Thanks Judy and God bless your wait!
Thanks Debbie:) Blessings back to you!
“…Do you have any other ideas about the timing of Jesus’s birth?…”
I like how Paul stated it in Galatians 4:4 – “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law.”
Whether it’s a child waiting for Christmas, a person waiting for his calling to kick into gear, or deliverance to occur for whatever reasons, it happens in the “fullness of time” and not one second sooner. I certainly understand this principle of God, especially from the looking forward to as Israel did.
Well said, Larry. Most of us have experienced a long wait for God to act in the fullness of his time, and as you point out, not one second sooner:) I’m still waiting for Him to move in certain situations – faith stretching for sure! Thanks for adding your thoughts and the Galatians verse – an encouragement to me today!
If my life is any accurate example, I can understand the long wait! I had been like one wandering in the desert, carping and complaining, moaning and messing up repeatedly, looking down instead of UP and out. I’m not proud about any of this–but I can say that I appreciate the Revelation and the gift of Deliverance more, for having to wait for them. And it makes the blessed Christmas season absolutely spectacular for me! I don’t want it to end–the anticipation of telling the Baby Jesus story again is sweeter than when I was a child waiting for Santa! God bless you BIG–love, sis Caddo
I love your Christmas enthusiasm Caddo! I too appreciate the season more now that I understand the enormity of what God did a little bit better. (i don’t know if we’ll ever be capable of fully understanding it.). Advent blessings to you, Caddo!