This first week of Advent is the week of Hope!
Adonai, you are my God.
I exalt you, I praise your name.
For you have accomplished marvels,
[fulfilled] ancient plans faithfully and truly.
For you have made a city a heap of stones,
turned a fortified city into rubble,
made the foreigners’ fortress
a city that will never be rebuilt.
Therefore mighty peoples glorify you,
the city of ruthless nations fears you.
For you have been a refuge for the poor,
a refuge for the needy in distress,
shelter from the storm,
shade from the heat —
for the blast from the ruthless
was like a storm that could destroy a wall.
Like desert heat, you subdue
the foreigners’ uproar;
like heat subdued by a cloud’s shadow,
the song of the ruthless dies away.
On this mountain Adonai-Tzva’ot
will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food and superb wines,
delicious, rich food and superb, elegant wines.
On this mountain he will destroy
the veil which covers the face of all peoples,
the veil enshrouding all the nations.
He will swallow up death forever.
Adonai Elohim will wipe away
the tears from every face,
and he will remove from all the earth
the disgrace his people suffer.
For Adonai has spoken.
On that day they will say,
“See! This is our God!
We waited for him to save us.
This is Adonai ; we put our hope in him.
We are full of joy, so glad he saved us!”
For on this mountain
the hand of Adonai will rest.
But Mo’av will be trampled down where they are,Isaiah 25:1-12 (CJB)
like straw trampled into a pile of manure.
They will spread out their hands in Mo’av,
like a swimmer using his hands to tread water;
but their pride will be humbled and sunk,
no matter how clever the strokes of their hands.
Your high, fortified walls he will level,
strike to the ground, lay in the dust.
Let me say this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot share in the Kingdom of God, nor can something that decays share in what does not decay. Look, I will tell you a secret — not all of us will die! But we will all be changed! It will take but a moment, the blink of an eye, at the final shofar. For the shofar will sound, and the dead will be raised to live forever, and we too will be changed. For this material which can decay must be clothed with imperishability, this which is mortal must be clothed with immortality. When what decays puts on imperishability and what is mortal puts on immortality, then this passage in the Tanakh will be fulfilled:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
“Death, where is your victory?
Death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin; and sin draws its power from the Torah; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Yeshua the Messiah!
So, my dear brothers, stand firm and immovable, always doing the Lord’s work as vigorously as you can, knowing that united with the Lord your efforts are not in vain.1 Corinthians 15:50-58 (CJB)
There is a difference in what is eternal and what is temporal. We all know this deep down, yet we all spend our lives toiling for the temporal. We all hang our hats on pegs that will not last. We know this, deep down. In the musical Hamilton, King George famously sings, “Oceans rise, empires fall!” We know this to be true from history class. Yet, none of us really thinks about these things as they pertain to us. Yes, we think, America won the Revolutionary War! We don’t think about the fact that England lost. We don’t think about the fall of Rome—not in a way that pertains to us, anyway.
Isaiah says, “Look, we’ve been hoping in this God, and He’s now saved us!” And we think, “Yes, yes! He did come and save us. We know about that Holy Baby in the manger. We know about that King who died for His people. We know how He rose again!” We rejoice in a day that was saved. But the saving isn’t over; it’s still underway. All things are being made new as we speak! Because of the lowly, lovely king (mewithoutYou), I’m being made new, even now. The Day-with-a-capital-D is still coming. And we’re still waiting. While oceans rise and empires fall (Hamilton), we’re waiting. Because on that day, we’ll all be changed! The temporal things—they’ll do what temporal things do: they’ll disappear from sight and, eventually, memory. What will remain? The eternal. Those things that are really important. Those people made in His image who He came to save and change into something new. There will be victory in Jesus for the slaves who have remained captives all these years. We’ll be changed. We’ll still be.
This Advent, as we prepare for that coming Day when we’ll be changed, let us remember to spend our time on the eternal things. What are the eternal things? Not the presents, not the tree, not the tinsel—but the people you’re sharing the season with. The people you worship alongside. The neighbors you pass on your drive home. The family you sit and enjoy the season with. The beggar on the street. The foster child whose gifts you buy. People. That is what is eternal. Pointing those people to the God we have waited for and still wait for, Who will save us—that’s eternal. That’s worth our focus.
Today’s song: Joy Unto The World by The Afters