Advent: A Celebrated Rest
A good friend and I were recently discussing the Hebrew sacrificial system adhered to by ancient Israel. We discussed with amazement the sheer volume of blood spilled as part of their ritual atonement for sins. It seems as though blood must have flowed continuously at the altar. And if you think about the amassed measure spilled over the entire course of Israel’s history, it is staggering. So what’s all this about anyway?
At least in one significant sense, this theme of blood and sacrifice that is maintained throughout the Old Testament ultimately initiates a trajectory pointing clearly to the arrival of the one true Sacrifice. So much so, that when Jesus arrives on scene and says “rest,” (Matthew 11:28) we can as believers, and with those who have died before us in Christ, collectively breathe a sigh of relief.
That is what the season of Advent is all about. Not decorations, not time off from work, not food, not time with family, not the usual holiday stress of running around searching for the right gift. If you are not familiar with it, the word “Advent” is from the Latin adventus, meaning “coming” and December 2nd marks the first Sunday of Advent this year. For Christians, Advent is a time of celebration, preparation and excitement with both a thankful eye toward the past and the arrival of our Savior over 2,000 years ago, as well as an eager focus toward the future and His second coming.
For the next four Sundays, my family and I will light candles symbolizing the “light” coming into the world (John 8:12). On each Sunday, we will progressively add one candle to our setting, thus causing the light to brighten and pointing our thoughts and hearts toward God’s most precious gift, Jesus. Each day in between, as part of our family devotions, we will read Scriptures focused on the birth and second coming of Christ. I am anxious for it to start and I pray that this will be a fruitful and spiritually productive time for us and for you as well!
My closing thoughts are on Hebrews 9:27-28: “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.”
Are you “eagerly waiting for Him?” Can you say with Asaph in the 73rd Psalm, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.” Or do you have doubts about leaving this world behind? Are you holding too close to earthly things? Does your faith consist only of a collection of thoughts and ideas about Jesus (even Biblical and right thoughts)?
Or do you treasure Him? Do you value Him above all else in your life? Do you see Him as supremely valuable? If you have never experienced Christ as the fulfillment of your “all in all” (Eph 1:23), I invite you to take this time to pray for God to give you a receptive heart to the true reason for this season. Pray for eyes to see and ears to hear and taste buds to taste, that the Lord truly is good. So that even amidst the hustle and bustle of this time of year, you may truly find “rest” in Christ.
1 John 4:14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.