Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Hope of Advent - A Bible Study

Advent starts the Christian year like January starts the beginning of the calendar year.   

Advent is a time or season that is celebrated by most of the Christian church world, that includes the Catholic Church, most Protestant denominations, and many non-denominational churches.   

Definition:  the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event: christian theology the coming or second coming of Christ.

Advent is a season observed in many Western Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. The term is a version of the Latin word  adventus meaning "coming".  Adventus is the Latin translation of the Greek word parousia, ( is an ancient Greek word meaning presence, arrival, or official visit) commonly used to refer to the Second Coming of Christ. For Christians, the season of Advent anticipates the coming of Christ from three different perspectives. In the flesh in Bethlehem, in our hearts daily, and in glory at the end of time." The season offers the opportunity to share in the ancient Jewish longing for the coming of the Messiah, and to be alert for his Second Coming.

We look back and identify with those that awaited and longed for the arrival of the Messiah foretold to them. We do this today knowing, that God, in His faithfulness, provided that Messiah in Jesus, just as the Scriptures prophesied. We also look ahead, in expectation and longing for the second coming of Christ.

Advent Today                                   

Today, the Advent season lasts for four Sundays leading up to Christmas.  This year Advent started last Sunday November 27th.   Advent is a season of preparation for Christmas. Christians prepare for celebrating the birth of Jesus by remembering the longing of the Jews for a Messiah. In Advent, we’re reminded of how much we ourselves also need a Savior, and we look forward to our Savior’s second coming even as we prepare to celebrate his first coming at Christmas.

The themes most often used for the four weeks of Advent are Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.  I’m not going to be here every Sunday of Advent but I wanted us to start celebrating the coming of Jesus’ entrance into the world as a man just like us and to celebrate the fact that because He came to be just like us we are able to also have Him come into our hearts as our Savior who died for our sins and to look forward to His second coming at which time we will be like Him.  

1 John 3:2 (NKJV)2  Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
Advent is not a biblical mandate, but a Christian tradition to set our minds and hearts on the coming of Christ.  During advent we look closer into the implications of advent, that Christ provided, in Himself, hope, peace, joy and love. He is the Hope of the World, the Prince of Peace, the Fullness of Joy and the Lover of our Souls.

Hope of Advent

H.O.P.E. Hallelujah Overflowing in Praises Eternal.

Hope. (a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.)

G.K. Chesterton wrote, “Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances that we know to be desperate.” It is not a blissful ignorance or wishful thinking but a subversive cheer that refuses to let circumstance triumph over courage, doubt overcome faith, or adversity conquer compassion. This is not easy; it is not our default setting. When we hit brick walls, the first emotion that naturally arises is generally not hope. Hope requires a strength that comes from focusing on a greater vision than what is wrong. We may not have every problem figured out, but we serve a God who loved this world enough to join us in it. We trust that when Jesus said, “Behold, I am making all things new,” he meant it.

Expectation and Hope

Advent teaches us to not only to expect hope for eternity, but we can expect hope for today. If Jesus could remain obedient to death on a cross, surely we can get through what seems hopeless for us today.

If we keep focusing on the lowly conditions in which Jesus came into the world and on His painful death on the cross, then we, too, can have hope for the days ahead of us.  Remember, what you are going through today is not to harm you but to strengthen you for what's ahead for you.


Isaiah 9:1-2 (HCSB)1  Nevertheless, the gloom of the distressed land will not be like that of the former times when He humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali. But in the future He will bring honor to the Way of the Sea, to the land east of the Jordan, and to Galilee of the nations.2  The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; a light has dawned on those living in the land of darkness.

Here Isaiah was talking about the gloom in Israel because they had been captured by Assyria but in the future, (in this case the distant future from the time of Isaiah’s prophecy) honor would come through Jesus who would headquarter His ministry in Galilee.  This is a prophecy of the Messiah.   So there was hope for the land.


Matthew 4:12-16 (NKJV)12  Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee.13  And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali,14  that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:15  "The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles:16  The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned."


Isaiah 7:14 (NKJV)14  Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.


Matthew 1:22-23 (NKJV)22  So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:23  "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us."

Isaiah 9:7 (NKJV)7  Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.  

Luke 1:26-33 (NKJV)26  Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,27  to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary.28  And having come in, the angel said to her, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!"29  But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.30  Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS.32  He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.33  And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end."

Romans 1:1-4 (NKJV)1  Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God2  which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures,3  concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh,4  and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.  


Isaiah 61:1-2 (NKJV)1  "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;2  To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn,


Luke 4:18-20 (NKJV)18  "The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
19  To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD."20  Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him.  


Isaiah 53:12 (NKJV)12  Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.


Matthew 27:38 (NKJV)38  Then two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and another on the left.  


Isaiah 53:5-12 (NKJV)5  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.6  All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.7  He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.8  He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.9  And they made His grave with the wicked-- But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth.10  Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.11  He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities.12  Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.


Romans 5:6-8 (NKJV)6  For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.7  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.8  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

We just looked at a few prophecies in the book of Isaiah but The books of the Old Testament contain many passages about the Messiah which Jesus Christ fulfilled.   Some Bible scholars suggest there are more than 300 prophetic Scriptures completed in the life of Jesus.

After the resurrection, preachers of the New Testament church began to declare officially that Jesus Christ was the Messiah by divine appointment:

This is part of Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost:

Acts 2:29-36 (NKJV)29  "Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.30  Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne,31  he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.32  This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses.33  Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.34  For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: 'The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand,35  Till I make Your enemies Your footstool." '36  "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."  

So you see that the hope of Israel for its Messiah was fulfilled in Jesus although most, if not many of the missed it.  But the Gentiles, us, can claim Him as our Messiah too.

Isaiah 42:6 (NKJV)6  "I, the LORD, have called You in righteousness, And will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, As a light to the Gentiles,

Acts 2:17-21 (NKJV)17  'And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.18  And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy.19  I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.20  The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.
21  And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved.'

Romans 3:29 (NKJV)29  Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also,

Isaiah 2:1-5 (NKJV)1  The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.2  Now it shall come to pass in the latter days That the mountain of the LORD'S house Shall be established on the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills; And all nations shall flow to it.3  Many people shall come and say, "Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths." For out of Zion shall go forth the law, And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.4  He shall judge between the nations, And rebuke many people; They shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war anymore.5  O house of Jacob, come and let us walk In the light of the LORD.

In the time of Isaiah Judah was a vassal state of Assyria. During Isaiah's lifetime the Assyrians would sweep in and totally annihilate the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and threaten to do the same to the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Judah had weak leaders who saw it more politically expedient to appease the Empire than to be faithful to God. And yet there were those like Isaiah who could envision a different reality, who could hope for a time when Israel would be faithful and allow God to be God. Israel was weary of war and threat, weary of the divisions that had torn her country apart after Solomon, weary of the instability of a world in which power and the oppression that it brings were the controlling factors in the world. Some like Isaiah knew that God's vision of the world was much different. They knew that the God they served was the same God who had heard the cries of oppressed slaves in Egypt and entered history to relieve their oppression. And they knew that because God was such a God, he would not forever tolerate oppression in the world.  And so they hoped. And they dreamed. They dreamed of a time when God would enter the world and bring an end to war and suffering, when he would establish his reign on earth and restore all creation to what he intended it to be. They dreamed of a time when the division that had torn their people apart and divided them into north and south might be healed, and they could once again be a whole people under God. They dreamed of a time when "nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."

Most theologians and historians believe that Isaiah's prophecies were about 430 BC.  

When the New Testament opens with the announcement of Jesus birth we know that the King was Herod the Great who reigned from 37 to 4 BC.   So Israel had waited a long time.

They were waiting for the one who would deliver them.  In fact they mention Him in their prayer of lament;

Psalm 80:17 (HCSB)17  Let Your hand be with the man at Your right hand, with the son of man You have made strong for Yourself.

God had promised That Man (The Messiah)  would come and save and rescue them and He did.  He didn’t come to save just Israel but all the lost.


Luke 19:10 (HCSB)10  For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”

With everything that’s going on in this country and the world we may feel like the nation of Israel felt.   
We’re in decline, we’re in trouble, we need a revival and restoration.  We can and should pray this same prayer as Psalm 80.   

Psalm 80:1-19 (NKJV)1  Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, You who lead Joseph like a flock; You who dwell between the cherubim, shine forth!2  Before Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh, Stir up Your strength, And come and save us!3  Restore us, O God; Cause Your face to shine, And we shall be saved!4  O LORD God of hosts, How long will You be angry Against the prayer of Your people?5  You have fed them with the bread of tears, And given them tears to drink in great measure.6  You have made us a strife to our neighbors, And our enemies laugh among themselves.7  Restore us, O God of hosts; Cause Your face to shine, And we shall be saved!
8  You have brought a vine out of Egypt; You have cast out the nations, and planted it.9  You prepared room for it, And caused it to take deep root, And it filled the land.10  The hills were covered with its shadow, And the mighty cedars with its boughs.11  She sent out her boughs to the Sea, And her branches to the River.12  Why have You broken down her hedges, So that all who pass by the way pluck her fruit?13  The boar out of the woods uproots it, And the wild beast of the field devours it.14  Return, we beseech You, O God of hosts; Look down from heaven and see, And visit this vine15  And the vineyard which Your right hand has planted, And the branch that You made strong for Yourself.16  It is burned with fire, it is cut down; They perish at the rebuke of Your countenance.17  Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand, Upon the son of man whom You made strong for Yourself.18  Then we will not turn back from You; Revive us, and we will call upon Your name.19  Restore us, O LORD God of hosts; Cause Your face to shine, And we shall be saved!

The reality is that the promised One has come with all power is in His hands;

Matthew 28:18 (HCSB)18  Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

Because He did come….nothing can ever stop us not even death.  

Matthew 16:18 (HCSB)18  And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it.

We can have hope for a successful future

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (HCSB)11 For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

We can joyfully anticipate something better ahead; that is, if we maintain hope. We eagerly await something beyond what we could either think or ask.

Ephesians 3:20-21 (NKJV)20  Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,21  to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

If you’re going through something now are when you're go through something in the future, because of Jesus there’s HOPE!

While things may seem hopeless we are reminded that the promised One has come in glory and power to rescue, revive, restore, and save.  

Hebrews 6:19-20 (NKJV)19  This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil,20  where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

Hope comes first, hope for the peace and joy and love we cannot find on our own and never in real and lasting measure apart from Christ.

Jesus is the example of how we should live our lives. And with Him as the example, we can welcome the days ahead full of hope.

Romans 8:29 (NKJV)29  For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

I want to read you something from a sermon by a guy named Rodney Buchanan a Retired Methodist, Pastor/Minister
Years ago, there was a very wealthy man who, with his devoted young son, shared a passion for art collecting. Together they traveled around the world, adding only the finest art treasures to their collection. Priceless works by Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet and many others adorned the walls of the family estate. The widowed father looked on with satisfaction as his only child became an experienced art collector. But the day came when war engulfed the nation, and the young man left to serve his country. After only a few short weeks, his father received a telegram that his beloved son had been killed while carrying a fellow soldier to a medic.
On Christmas morning a knock came at the door of the old man’s home, and as he opened the door, he was greeted by a soldier with a large package in his hand. He introduced himself to the man by saying, “I was a friend of your son. I was the one he was rescuing when he died. May I come in for a few moments? I have something to show you.” “I’m an artist,” said the soldier, “and I want to give you this.” As the old man unwrapped the package, the paper gave way to reveal a portrait of his son. Though the art critics would never consider the work a piece of genius, the painting did feature the young man’s face in striking detail, and seemed to capture his personality.
The following spring, the old man became ill and passed away. The art world was in anticipation! According to the will of the old man, all of the art works would be auctioned. The day soon arrived, and art collectors from around the world gathered to bid on some of the world’s most spectacular paintings. The auction began with a painting that was not on any museum’s list. It was the painting of the man’s son. The auctioneer asked for an opening bid. The room was silent. “Who will open the bidding with $100?” he asked. Minutes passed with not a sound from those who came to buy. From the back of the room someone callously called out, “Who cares about that painting? It’s just a picture of his son. Let’s forget it and go on to the important paintings.” There were other voices which echoed in agreement. But the auctioneer replied, “No, we have to sell this one first. Now, who will take the son?” Finally, a friend of the old man spoke. “I knew the boy, so I’d like to have it. I will bid the $100.” “I have a bid for $100,” called the auctioneer. “Will anyone go higher?” After a long silence, the auctioneer said, “Going once. Going twice. Gone.” The gavel fell. Cheers filled the room and someone was heard to say, “Now we can get on with it!” But the auctioneer looked at the audience and announced the auction was over. Stunned disbelief quieted the room. Someone spoke up and asked, “What do you mean it’s over? We didn’t come here for a picture of some old guy’s son. What about all of these paintings? There are millions of dollars worth of art here!
We demand that you explain what’s going on!” The auctioneer replied, “It’s very simple. According to the will of the father, whoever takes the son... gets it all.”
That is the essence of the story of Christmas: Whoever takes the Son gets it all. The Bible puts it like this: “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life”  The one who has the Son has it all.
1 John 5:11-12 (NKJV)11  And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.12  He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
But exactly what is included in the “all”? Advent promises new life in Christ because: It means we now know what God is like. The coming of Christ gave us a living picture of who God is. Christ’s coming put a face on God.
Colossians 1:13-16 (NKJV)13  He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,14  in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.15  He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.16  For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.
This is what we mean by the incarnation — God came to earth wrapped in a human body. The God of heaven came to live among us that we might know what he is truly like. He came to teach us. He came to die for us that we might be forgiven. He rose from the dead to help us know that we too will be raised. He ascended to the Father to intercede for us. He promised that he will return so that eternal hope would burn in our hearts. He opened the doors of heaven.
Christmas means that Christ has given us the gift of heaven. At this point it is still wrapped. But the package has our name on it. We know what awaits us. It is ours. We would never have received the gift if it were not for Christmas. But we wait longingly for the day when we will enjoy the gift of heaven in all of its unwrapped wonder.   As it says;
2 Peter 3:13 (NKJV)13  Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
The day will come when we too will hear the words:
Revelation 21:3-4 (NKJV)3  And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.4  And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."
Because Jesus came, we know what God is like. We experience forgiveness for our sins and the transformation of our hearts and minds. We have received the promise of heaven and eternal life. What better gifts could we ask for?   
That’s the H.O.P.E.  (Hallelujah Overflowing in Praises Eternal) of Advent.

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