First Sunday of Advent-Promise of the Word-December 2, 2012
Scripture: Jeremiah 33:14-16; Psalm 25:3-7
Lighting of Prophecy Candle
Jeremiah brings a message the is direct about God’s promises and character. All too often the word prophecy is thought by many to be predicting or telling the future. In the biblical perspective that is not necessarily the case. God’s Prophets were those that we speaking and proclaiming the truth of God, bring a message of God’s promises. In that way they are telling the truth about a future event but it is not from uncertainty but because the all-knowing eternal God has already shared this information with them. Therefore, it is a proclamation about the truth of God yet to be revealed in time. Jeremiah in this scripture fulfills that role.
Days are coming says the Lord, when I will fulfill the good word I have spoken to you. The days have not yet arrived but are coming and we should trust the word of the Lord. Then more specifics are given, a righteous branch of David will spring forth. This righteous branch will execute justice and righteousness on earth. In those days, more specifics, Judah shall be saved, Jerusalem will dwell in safety, and the city will be called the Lord is our righteousness.
Days are coming indicates that better days are coming and Jeremiah is not vague he gives specifics. Just because we may not know the plan God has does not mean that there is not one. God has a very good plan for His purposes. His ways are not our ways and He does the unexpected to bring glory to Himself. Through David’s line, God is working to bring justice and righteousness. In reality a sinful fallen world will never have the answer for how to fix itself, it can’t, nor was it intended to, only the righteous, holy, loving, creator, can restore creation to the order and balance He intended. It is the sin of pride to believe, apart from God, we understand what the world is supposed to look like and that we can fix it.
In our pride to say we have answers to fix the world’s problems that don’t include God as the solution, we are telling God we don’t need Him. We are essentially telling God He is wrong and to do so would be the same as saying we don’t know or trust Him. We are certainly not allowing His plan to shape our lives. Prophecy is the stating of a reality that God already has planned. Then trusting and knowing He is able to fulfill those plans in His time.
In those days the city will have a change of name/identity. A new name that is similar to being under the witness protection program. The city will witness and testify of the fulfilling of God’s truth, and will live in safety with a new name. This is also the same promise to all who would call His name, and bear witness to Him.
These things will happen in those days that God has determined and the difficult part often times as people of faith is to wait for the promise of those times when the world mocks and ridicules. The Psalmist tells us not to be weary in waiting, or get embarrassed, because those that trust Him will not but put to shame. Whereas, those who deal treacherously will be put to shame. Waiting is not standing by doing nothing but being bound together with other believers in our common identity in Christ living in expectation of the fulfillment of God’s word.
Make, Teach, and Lead are all verbs and they are the action of God in scripture not of us. Why would anyone ask God to make, teach, and lead because He is the Lord of our salvation and we owe our lives to Him and for this we should wait all day, every day, and/or forever. It is not too big a task to ask our Creator to make anything, so the Psalmist asks, make me know your ways. Put your knowledge in me and make me yours. Teach me your paths so I can learn which way to walk. In learning to walk I will often stumble and lose sight of your paths and ways, so lead me.
It appears that many in our cluttered culture today worship a God that seems aloof and disconnected or uncaring. It is hard to have a personal relationship with a depersonalized God. If He is not personal we see obedience as an option or something we can put off. But what if Jesus saw the cross as optional? Where would we be? So as it is Lord, make/create, teach/instruct, lead/give the example. You alone are worthy, you are a personal God of flesh that came to this place and bore the sin of humanity upon your body, and died in my place and even if you never did another thing for me your salvation is the greatest gift of all. Because of that I owe you my life, allegiance, and obedience.
Remembering, does not imply that God can forget, rather God allow the core of your character, which is compassion and loving-kindness to triumph over the actions of man. Allow the strength of that love to cover all my former (youth) & daily sins (transgressions) & willful disobedience. According to the love with which you created me, remember me that way. See my life, see me the way you created me not the ugliness of my sin, because that is who you are and really the only hope I have is in your mercy. So it is in Advent we wait alongside countless generations, because those who wait in expectation will not be ashamed.
You always keep your promises. And so in hope, wonder, fear, and expectation we wait for your real, personal presence to transform our lives, change our names, and even our identities. For we are no longer slaves to sin but we ask you to take charge, make, teach, lead, and we wait longingly and trust obediently in your promise that in your Son you will see not my sins of old or my daily transgressions but the person you’ve lovingly created, me. In the fulfillment of these promises you will be glorified and we will be blessed by your work of grace, the great mystery of old, because of your work throughout eternity and all creation. As we then wait, we can celebrate the faithfulness of His Word, our salvation, and the hope of glory is Christ in us. May we bear witness to His holy name.