The advent season is a unique opportunity to draw closer to God through reflection, worship, and celebration. In a time of year where the world beckons us to satisfy our consumer and materialistic urges, the anticipation of the incarnation of Christ draws us away from our self-centered desires and turns our gaze outward and upward. The desire for our staff over this next month is to help lead you deeper and deeper into the mystery and wonder of Jesus' birth with a weekly advent devotional. Each week, we'll reflect on an Old Testament passage that foretold the coming of our Savior. Our prayer is that it would serve to encourage and bless you as you rest and rejoice in the good news of Jesus Christ.
“With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation” (Psalm 91:16).
Many people believe that the Christian’s future hope is a desire for escape. And a lot of Christians have given them good reason to think that. Throughout my life in the church, I’ve heard people say this world was “just going to burn anyway.” This, of course, excuses their ungraciousness, unneighborliness, or their propensity to litter.
In fact, in high school I used to use that line to excuse leaving my fast food garbage in various parking lots across Southern California.
Yes, that’s right, Jesus’s imminent return—the Second Advent—was my excuse to keep from cleaning up after myself. And this perpetuates the idea that we don’t have to worry about the here and now because we’re going to ditch this world one day. Jesus is going to come back, open up a can on the unbelievers, and all the Christians will say one last cosmic, “See ya!”
But that’s not the way it works at all.
We don’t escape this world. Our hope in Christ’s return isn’t about leaving behind a bad physical world in favor of a good spiritual one filled with babies playing harps at one big long eternal church service. It’s about Jesus ushering in a very physical new heavens and new earth. It’s about him making all things new, restoring everything to what he meant it to be.
Hope isn’t about escape. Psalm 91 reminds me of the future tense of God’s salvation for his people. We don’t want to leave this physical world and all the dirt that comes with it. Rather, especially in this Advent season—as we look to back to Christ’s first coming and forward to His second one—we hope in the salvation that will come to us in the end because our God is a faithful God.
God will deliver (v.3), will cover (v.4), you will not fear (v.5-6), danger will not come near (v.7-8), no evil will be allowed to befall us (v. 9-10). God will deliver us, be with us in trouble, will rescue and honor us, and he will show us his salvation (v.14-16).
Advent reminds us of our hope that God will right all wrongs and deliver us from evil. We don’t look to escape this hard, cursed world. We put our hope in the God who promises to deliver us. And we can put our hope firmly in that deliverance because we already received the down payment of it in a manger in Bethlehem.