This Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent. Unfortunately the audio recording of this weekend's message was lost. Below is a summarized version.
Jesus told his followers to watch and pray for his return. Advent reminds us to do just that. It is a season of longing for Jesus to come back and put an end to injustice, hatred, sin and fear. Our prayer is like that of the prophet Isaiah, “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down!” In this text we learn to wait by remembering our past (vv. 2-3), by confessing our sin in the present (vv. 4-6), and by anticipating our glorious future (vv. 17-18).
I. The Past
The prayer asks for a visible show of decisive power that will impress Israel’s enemies. It remembers the events of the past, where God came down to rescue His people from slavery and when God came down on Mount Sinai to establish his people within a covenant of everlasting love and protection.
The Bible presents us with a God who gets angry.
Isaiah was written to a nation in exile. People facing tremendous injustice. Their capital city, Jerusalem, has been torn down. Their own children slaughtered. So in verses 1–3 they’re asking God to come down and judge the injustice.
In order to live with hope, you need a God who gets angry enough at sin and evil and injustice to do something about it!
II. The Present
The problem is what would happen if God really were to come down with justice? Israel’s wicked oppressors would be destroyed, yes. But in verses 4-6, Israel begins to recognize its own sin. They begin to realize that they are just as guilty as their enemies.
Israel has been unfaithful, disobedient and impure. Even their best obedience is unacceptable (v. 6). Israel as a nation has walked away from God’s love and protection. Therefore, Israel is left open and vulnerable to the world’s destruction.
Israel begins to realize that they need not only a God of justice, but a God of mercy.
III. The Future
In verses 8-9 God is characterized as both a father and an artist. This fact does not mean that God does not get angry. Father’s get angry when their children are destroying themselves. Artists get angry when their artwork is misrepresented or destroyed. In fact it is because he’s a loving father and because he’s a committed artist that his anger is justified. God’s love is the cause of his anger.
The opposite of love is not anger. The opposite of love is hate. And the ultimate hate is indifference. The ultimate hate is not to care.
Advent is the season that we remember how much God cares and that He has intervened in the most unimaginable way possible. God came not only to forgive, but to set all things right again. Not only to pardon our sin, but to restore all of His creation. Not only to clear our bad record, but to welcome us home as his children.
God’s salvation is absolutely comprehensive.
Why? Because sin is not merely law-breaking behavior, it is a fatal disease. It is rooted much deeper than just our outward behavior. Sin is a sickness of the soul that makes us subject to futility and death. Which is why God comes not as a punishing judge, but as the Great physician. The one who would heal our brokenness and rescue us from the curse of death.
Sin is not just a series of mistakes we make. It is an entire dominion of darkness. The work of the cross was about God’s power (love) dethroning the cruel, illegitimate, power of Satan. Now all who are aligned with his rule, all who are “in Christ”, are saved because he is victorious!
So this Advent we can pray with confidence, “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down.” Because we know he has already come once to bear our sin himself, so that when he returns he can utterly destroy all wickedness, evil and injustice without destroying us.
“Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people to be a joy.” - Isaiah 65:17-18