We live in distressing times, times of considerable unrest in the world. Terrorists would unsettle us with threats of violence. Anthrax rumors and scares abound.
Great distress has been seen in the world before. It always causes the same nervous reaction among men, even among the children of God. When some spoke to Jesus of the wonder of the temple in Jerusalem, and Jesus responded that all this would be thrown down and destroyed so that one stone would not be left upon another, that was very unsettling for the disciples. They couldn’t imagine the destruction of the temple and all of Jerusalem, without it marking the end of the world. Forty years later they would see these things come to pass.
It was shocking for us to see the disaster of 9/11. It is easy to make the same assumption that the disciples had of the temple. We know that when the end comes, these monuments to the greatness of man shall come tumbling down. When the towers had been attacked and collapsed to the ground, the distress in America was intensified.
Our flesh grasps what it can see. Our spirit is led by the Lord to grasp what cannot be seen. And that is where our Spirit-created faith leads us to find our hope. “We do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18).
The Substance Of Our Hope
This Advent season is more than just the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. This is a precious season of the church year in which we are reminded that in the coming of our Savior we have hope in the face of the bleak prospects of this earth.
As we celebrate Christmas we rejoice in one of these precious comings of our Lord to this earth–His coming in the flesh to be our brother, to bear our sin. That coming is the substance of our hope, the fulfillment of so many promises which God had made through the prophets. It lays a rock-solid foundation for our faith.
Jesus comes into our hearts. By this advent of our Lord we receive the assurance of faith that in spite of all the upheaval that surrounds us in the world, in spite of the uncertainty in the economy that causes many to fret, we have no need to fear. “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you. I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isa. 41:10).
The righteousness of Christ which is credited to us through faith in Jesus sustains us through all the troubling times of life. What a blessing to be upheld by the mighty righteous hand of our Savior-God! No harm can befall us with the Lord as our God!
A wondrous hope still lies before us. When all the world is perplexed and distressed, we continue to look for that day of the Lord’s return, His final advent. We look with great hope and expectation. At the end, when for the world all is lost, “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up our heads, because your redemption draws near” (Lk. 21:27-28).
Yes, our hope of life and eternal salvation, even the redemption of our bodies, is found in the advent of our Lord.
We look for the day of His return with eager anticipation because in it is the deliverance from every evil and from every imperfection that afflicts us in this life.
We look for that final advent of the Lord because it is the final culmination of our salvation, found in the full revelation of Jesus’ glory and divine majesty.
–Pastor Theodore Barthels