For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
This week I will present an Advent Devotional Series, in hopes that we might experience afresh the passion and the power of waiting on God during these last few days leading up to Christmas Day.
The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming” or “visit.” Christians generally refer to the “Advent season” as extending through the four Sundays leading up to Christmas Day. It is the time when Christians prepare to observe the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ through prayer, fasting, and repentance. We remember the hope of the Jewish nation and their longing for the coming of the Messiah. Today we will take a brief look at the “Why” of Advent. Later this week, we’ll look at the “How” and the “Who” of Advent.
First, let’s be clear about what the “Why” was not; God did not clothe Himself in human flesh because of sin. As a pastor who labors to point people to Jesus each week, I make it a point to stress the fact that we are all sinners in need of a Savior. We recall Adam and Eve and their catastrophic fall in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), which plunged all the created order into cosmic chaos and made all of humanity sinners in desperate need of a Savior. But sin could not have been the primary “Why” of Advent, because sin was already in the world in the form of the serpent—Satan.
In Isaiah’s and Ezekiel’s references to the kings of Babylon and Tyre, we see Satan’s downfall symbolically described . . . and we also see references to Satan as the spiritual power behind those earthly kings.
How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:12-14)
You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings. (Ezekiel 28:15-17)
In these passages we are given a glimpse behind the veil of heaven, where we see the fall of Lucifer and the sin that was in this world before the first sin of man. Jesus spoke of this event to His disciples, saying, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:18). Clearly, if sin was the “Why” of Advent, God would have sent Jesus to redeem the fallen angels. But that was not the purpose for His coming, as the writer of Hebrews clearly confirms.
Surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Hebrews 2:16-18)
So, if sin was not the “Why” of Advent, what was? LOVE! I opened today’s message with John 3:16, because those words from our Lord make that abundantly, gloriously clear. God in Christ came to rescue fallen, sinful man, and the reason He did so is located in the heart of God and His gracious, amazing love for man—a special love; a redeeming love purchased by His beloved Son on a cross so that we could be the spouse of the Son—the bride of the Bridegroom.
God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners,
Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
Christian, that is why everything in your life works toward your salvation. God so loved you from eternity past that He is working every circumstance of your life (the good, the bad, and even the unbelievably painful) for your eternal good (Romans 8:28).
May this truth of God’s amazing love for you bring you glad tidings of great joy this Christmas season and throughout the new year.
I hope you’ll be back on Wednesday, when we will examine the “How” of Advent.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!