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Week 1: Ancient Promises

Scripture Reading

”And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”
Genesis 3:15 (NKJV)

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone…

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
Excerpts from Isaiah 9:1-7 (ESV)

In the beginning…

The story of Advent, the story of Jesus, the story of humanity, all begins long, long ago, in a garden. God creates a paradise, the Garden of Eden. He makes a beautiful world and creates humanity in His image, after His likeness, and blesses them. He tells them to be fruitful and to multiply, to fill the earth with His goodness and beauty. They walked in unhindered relationship with the Creator God, unafraid and unashamed. But Adam and Eve soon rebelled and ate the fruit from the forbidden tree. Sin and death came in like a flood. Shame and fear, pride and darkness shattered the fellowship and peace and plunged the world into chaos, separating humanity from relationship with God and enjoyment of His presence. It was a dark and terrible condition.

But God was not without a plan and did not leave humanity without hope. In dark chaos, He spoke a word of promise: one day, a Savior would come. A son would be born of woman, a promised Seed, and would destroy evil at its source and deliver humanity. God promised that sin, rebellion, and evil would not have the last word; that the serpent, the enemy, and his plans will not prevail in the end. Our rescue would come. God promised it.

Throughout the Years…

Throughout the Scriptures, God spoke to His covenant people about this promise and gave them what to look for in order to recognize the Savior’s coming. God revealed that the Messiah would be born in the line of David (Isa. 9:6-7), of the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10) and in the town of Bethlehem (Mic. 5:2). He would be a Man of Sorrows— crushed, despised and rejected—reconciling many through what He suffered (Isa. 53). The promised Deliverer would be a light overcoming darkness (Isa. 9:2), preaching Good News to the poor (Isa. 61) and One walking in the power of the Spirit (Isa. 42:1).

God kept reminding His people not to lose heart as they waited for the Savior to come. It’s important to remember that God did not fulfill His promise right away. His people waited many, many years. They spoke of the promised Rescuer from generation to generation, enduring cycles of war, rebellion, captivity and restoration. They watched and waited—anxiously, expectantly—for God’s faithfulness.

We all have times and seasons of feeling hopeless, helpless and in desperate need of rescue. This can be especially real when it comes to sin. We know its effects with every breath—in our bodies, our minds, our hearts—both our own sin and that of others. Our world is full of evidence that something is deadly wrong and needs to be made right. The world needs rescued. We need rescued. The reason we celebrate Advent is because the story the began in the Garden doesn’t end with man’s rebellion—but instead his redemption.

Reflection

Think about a time in your life that you feel like you were stuck in darkness or confusion. How did you feel in that moment? What did it feel like when you first saw light? How does Jesus’ birth bring light into the darkness in the world?

Think about Israel’s long wait for the promised Savior to come. How do you think God’s people fought against doubt, discouragement and the temptation to believe that God had forgot them?

God reveals many things about His nature and character through the birth of His Son. What attributes of God do you see in this part of the Advent narrative?

Response

What is one hope you have for yourself, your family or your community as you begin the Advent season? How can you strengthen that hope this season?

Pray for yourself and those around you, asking God to open your eyes and heart to what He has for you this Advent season.

Advent Hymn

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appears.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

Further Reading

Psalm 25:1-15
Isaiah 40:1-3, 28-31
Isaiah 55:6-11

View Week 2

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