Today is the second Sunday of Advent. Light two of the purple candles on your Advent wreath.
Who is the most important guest you have ever had to visit you in your home? How did you prepare for them?
I remember being a young newlywed, married just a few weeks, when we decided to invite the pastor and his wife, and a guest speaker over for Sunday lunch. We lived in a small one-bedroom apartment with a tiny galley kitchen. I don’t remember the entire meal, but I do recall making a chicken casserole! It was a nerve-wracking experience, but because I had plenty of notice and was able to prepare, it was successful. Of course, my pastor and his wife were so gracious and kind they would have loved anything, even a peanut butter sandwich!
In every culture, preparation is essential to receive an important visitor in the proper way. Our simple traditions of hospitality are but a faint echo of God’s preparation of the world to receive His only begotten Son. According to Genesis 3:15, God’s preparation began in the Garden of Eden when He warned the serpent of the enmity that would exist between him and the seed of the woman – the seed that would crush the head of the evil one. For four thousand years, God made preparations for the Messiah to come – preparations that would last until just the right time.
Galatians 4:4 – But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
God prepared a people through which the Messiah would come. He called Abraham to leave his home and all that was familiar to follow Him by faith and promised to bless all the families of the earth through him. Abraham’s descendants became the nation of Israel, the Jewish people through whom Jesus would enter humanity’s realm in physical, human flesh.
Genesis 12:1-3 – Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”
God prepared prophets through whom the Messiah was proclaimed. Starting with Job, the oldest book of the Bible, the prophets speak of the coming Redeemer (Job 19:25-27). The psalms are filled with Messianic prophecies written by David. Prophets such as Ezekiel and Daniel, Isaiah and Jeremiah received visions and prophecies to proclaim to God’s chosen people about the expected Messiah. And six months before Mary gave birth to Jesus, His cousin, John the Baptist made his dramatic arrival in the world, destined to become the final prophet as Isaiah wrote 700 years earlier.
Isaiah 40:3-5 – A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. Let every valley be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; and let the rough ground become a plain, and the rugged terrain a broad valley; then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
Matthew 3:1-3 – Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, make ready the way of the Lord, make His paths straight!”
God prepared a place in which the Messiah would be born. Jesus’ arrival would not be random in time nor place. Seven hundred years before, Micah prophesied the exact city God had selected to host His birth.
Micah 5:2,5a – But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity. … This One will be our peace.
God prepared a person who would carry the Child conceived by the Holy Spirit. Within the nation He had prepared, God chose the tribe of Judah to be the one through which the Messiah would come. Mary was of the tribe of Levi, but married Joseph of the tribe of Judah; Jesus was legally Joseph’s son, although the virgin birth made possible His sinless human nature. Both were descendants of David, Mary from David’s son, Nathan, and Joseph, from David’s son, Solomon.
Luke 1:26-33 – Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and was pondering what kind of greeting this was. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”
God’s extensive preparations happened over four thousand years of history. As time passed, each succeeding generation received insight into the Messiah’s arrival. This preparation was designed to give assurance and confidence to God’s people as they learned to trust Him and find peace, not in the current circumstance of their lives, but in God Himself. God’s preparation was designed to reveal their need for a Savior and to show that man can never find peace outside of a relationship with Him. Only the promised Messiah could bring peace; and only Jesus bears the title, Prince of peace.
Luke 2:11,13 – For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with who He is pleased.”
God is still preparing hearts to receive the Prince of peace. He draws us to Himself and woos us with His unconditional love and grace. He prepares us for repentance as He convicts of our sin, repentance that will lead to peace with God, and the peace of God.
Romans 5:1 – Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 26:3 – The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You.
Philippians 4:6-7 – Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
This week, we celebrate the preparation God made for the Prince of Peace, Jesus. Our response is to prepare our hearts to fully worship Him, the One who came to make peace between us and our Creator.
- What does it tell you about God that He made such extensive preparations for the birth of His Son?
- How has experiencing peace with God, and the peace of God changed your life?
- How do you see God actively working today to prepare the world for Jesus’ second advent?
- Is your heart prepared to meet the Savior this Christmas? How can we prepare our hearts to celebrate the birth of Jesus?
- What part can we play in preparing others to meet the Prince of peace?