No season is more associated with waiting than Christmas. We count down the days, planning and preparing to celebrate the holiday with family and friends. We shop until we drop, by and large purchasing gifts we don’t really need with money we don’t really have. We bake and decorate to create an atmosphere that conveys warmth, security and joy, all the while watching the calendar.
But imagine for a moment that on Christmas Day all of your problems would be solved. Each of your worries would be eliminated. Your fears would be relieved and your enemies vanquished. Imagine that all that you hope for would come to pass. How might that vision shape your anticipation for Christmas to come?
That’s exactly the kind of anticipation and hope that filled Israel some 2000 years ago. They too were waiting for Christmas, but in a different kind of way.
Most often when we think of waiting we think of it as the waiting of imposition or inconvenience. Long lines, heavy traffic, a late lunch appointment, the overscheduled doctor’s office, the check in the mail, the repairman who hit a snag at his previous house call. Those kinds of things.
But the waiting we read about in the Bible is not a waiting of imposition. It was a waiting for deliverance. Bible people in Bible times were waiting for someone to come and save them. They were waiting for someone who would come to right every wrong and save the day.
We celebrate Advent because the Deliverer has already come. Deliverance is available now. That is why the message of Jesus is called the “gospel;” it’s good news! Jesus is the joy of all people and the hope of the nations. Jesus is the fulfillment of all of the promises of God. We celebrate a waiting that has been already fulfilled.
While deliverance has already come, we now wait for the final consummation of the Kingdom of God—the second Advent—the second coming of Christ. Jesus has come and we have been redeemed. But Jesus will come again and we will be fully restored. In Revelation 21:5, Jesus said, “Look! I am making everything new!” On that day our redemption will be full and complete. Humanity and creation will be fully restored. And that is something to look forward to!