Untriumphantly: Hope for Now and the Future

This first week of Advent is the week of Hope!

This is the word that Yesha‘yahu the son of Amotz saw concerning Y’hudah and Yerushalayim:

In the acharit-hayamim
the mountain of Adonai’s house
will be established as the most important mountain.
It will be regarded more highly than the other hills,
and all the Goyim will stream there.
Many peoples will go and say,
“Come, let’s go up to the mountain of Adonai,
to the house of the God of Ya‘akov!
He will teach us about his ways,
and we will walk in his paths.”
For out of Tziyon will go forth Torah,
the word of Adonai from Yerushalayim.
He will judge between the nations
and arbitrate for many peoples.
Then they will hammer their swords into plow-blades
and their spears into pruning-knives;
nations will not raise swords at each other,
and they will no longer learn war.

Descendants of Ya‘akov, come!
Let’s live in the light of Adonai!
For you have abandoned your people
the house of Ya‘akov.
Now they are filled from the east,
full of sorcerers, like the P’lishtim;
even the children of foreigners
are enough for them!
Their land is full of silver and gold;
They have no end of treasures.
Their land is full of horses;
They have no end of chariots.
Their land is full of idols;
everyone worships the work of his hands,
what his own fingers have made.
A person bows down, a man lowers himself —
don’t forgive them!

Come into the rock, hide in the dust
to escape the terror of Adonai
and the glory of his majesty.
The proud looks of man will be humiliated;
the arrogance of men will be bowed down;
and when that day comes,
Adonai alone will be exalted.

Yes, Adonai-Tzva’ot has a day in store
for all who are proud and lofty,
for all who are lifted high to be humiliated;
for all cedars of the L’vanon that are high and lifted up,
for all the oaks of the Bashan;
for all the high mountains,
for all the hills that are lifted up;
for every high tower,
for every fortified wall;
for every “Tarshish” ship,
for every luxurious vessel.
The pride of man will be bowed down,
the arrogance of men will be humiliated,
and when that day comes,
Adonai alone will be exalted.
The idols will be completely abolished.
People will enter cracks in the rocks
and holes in the ground
to escape the terror of Adonai
and his glorious majesty,
when he sets out to convulse the earth.

On that day a man will take hold
of his idols of silver and idols of gold,
which they made for themselves to worship,
and fling them away to the moles and bats!
Then they will enter the cracks in the rocks
and the crevices in the cliffs
to escape the terror of Adonai
and his glorious majesty,
when he sets out to convulse the earth.

Stop relying on man,
in whose nostrils is a mere breath —
after all, he doesn’t count for much,
does he?

Isaiah 2 (CJB)

            I’m sure coming to the end of this year, all Christians breathe a sigh of relief knowing that this isn’t all there is. We’re in on a secret. This world is being remade, even now, and there is more than just this sickness, this bickering, and this violence. We have this hope in a coming day. 

            Advent is all about waiting with hope. We’re waiting for that coming day. We celebrate Jesus come to earth in that manger in Bethlehem. But we’re also waiting for his second coming. Talking about the second coming gets weird for most Christians. Some talk about it like an escape ticket. Some talk about it like the apocalypse. Some just don’t talk about it. But our hope isn’t just in what Jesus has done, but in what He is doing and what He is going to do

            This waiting might be especially hard for you this year. You may be mourning losses from this year. You may be mourning the loss of your usual Advent. Whereever this Advent finds you, know that this isn’t all there is. There is more. The day is coming. We’re another year closer to our hope, and we’re another year comforted in that hope. Hope in Jesus is a now-and-not-yet business. 

            Preparing for Christmas looks different in a Christian household. The Christmas holiday has been largely secularized. While we could rant all day and night about it, it won’t change if we don’t change. Let’s face it—a season devoted to looking toward the second coming of Jesus is going to be weird. It is going to look different. If it doesn’t look different—question what it is you’re doing and where exactly your hope lies. But that takes some pressure off, doesn’t it? It isn’t about buying the perfect gift or having Instagram-worthy decorations. It isn’t about being busy and doing all the things. That is a load off my plate, for sure. 

            Preparing for Christmas looks like preparing for the day when the Lord alone will be exalted. What does that look like? Are you living the kind of life that finds good news in Yahweh alone being exalted? (That means I will not be exalted.) Preparing means preparing my life and my family for that day when the idols (of busyness, consumerism, pride, selfishness, haughtiness, self-righteousness) will vanish completely. That is a hopeful day. It is a day that we prepare for now because the day is coming. It is a day we hope in now, knowing, one day, it will be. Stop relying on man, yourself included; instead, put your hope in Him. 

Today’s song: In The Morning by JJ Heller

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