Significance of the LORD’s Advent: Confronting the Reality of Judgment and His Divine Arrival

1st Sunday in Advent - 12/3/2023 | Isaiah 64:1-9 ESV

Do We Want the LORD’s Advent?

The dawn of a new year brings a renewed spirit within the church, marked by transformative shifts. Much like the ever-changing seasons, our church now emanates a distinct aura, bidding farewell to the verdant hues of the post-Pentecost season, displaying a refreshing palette of cool blue tones. Notably, a captivating addition graces our sacred space – an Advent wreath suspended in the nave.

The Meaning of Advent

Crafted from lush greenery and adorned with five candles (three purple, one pink, and a central white one), the Advent Wreath serves as our symbolic countdown to the four weeks preceding the pivotal event: the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Christmas holds profound significance, commemorating the moment when our LORD God manifested in the earthly form of Jesus, the Son of God, born to Mary of Nazareth.

"Advent" means "coming," emphasizing the significance of this season's theme. Through Bible readings, sermons, liturgical expressions, or melodic hymns, Advent revolves around the divine presence of God entering our lives.

The Divine Proximity of His Imminent Arrival

The prospect of Jesus drawing near carries immense weight, presenting both a spiritual and physical challenge. The question looms – do we genuinely desire the arrival of God, the ultimate judge? Considering His omnipotence, is it safe to have Him in our midst?

According to biblical teachings, humans are inherently designed with a yearning to know, feel, and glimpse the divine presence. Our purpose is to reflect God's image, mirroring His goodness, righteousness, and unique attributes.

In the early days, our forebears experienced life in God's immediate presence, engaging in conversations and leisurely walks with Him in the garden. However, disobedience altered everything, leading to expulsion from paradise and forming a vast chasm between humanity and God (Isaiah 59:2).

Do You Welcome Yahweh's Arrival?

Isaiah, in the opening of chapter 64, articulates a profound prayer to the LORD, envisioning a dramatic arrival. He implores God to rend the sky, inducing seismic tremors and a spectacle akin to fire igniting wood and water bubbling fervently.

Isaiah seeks a grand manifestation that unequivocally reveals God's presence, especially to those who harbor dissent. The plea extends to nations trembling in awe at the divine appearance.

The reality of God's judgment looms large. Imagining a holy and righteous God encountering rebellious beings suggests a scene of potential devastation. Isaiah, acting as His emissary, essentially calls for divine retribution upon those who oppose Him and His precepts, even if they are adversaries of Israel, Isaiah's people.

Confronting Divine Judgment

In confronting reality, we acknowledge God as the eternal Creator, the sole arbiter of right and wrong. He reserves the authority to mete out punishment for transgressions.

Israel's history serves as a stark reminder – their repeated disregard for God's benevolence led to divine tolerance wearing thin. Ignoring divine statutes, they worshipped false gods, inviting turmoil and adversity from external forces.

A discerning voice reminds us that while God is patient, He will not tolerate mockery indefinitely. When His patience wanes, His judgment is unstoppable. Israel's hardened hearts testify to the consequences of persistent wrongdoing.

A Nation's Dilemma

Parallels can be drawn to our contemporary situation. Despite claiming to be a Christian nation and professing trust in God, do we genuinely embody these values? Is our inclination to blame God in times of adversity aligned with our proclaimed faith?

The acknowledgment of Jesus as our God often lacks the commitment of devoted worship. In the event of God's descent upon us, akin to the historical episode with Israel, would we not be deserving of His displeasure?

This inclination towards false religions, with their distant and malleable deities, presents a dangerous trap. It fosters the illusion of determining our standing with God, a fallacy akin to the deception that ensnared Adam and Eve.

Advent's Reminder of Divine Justice

Within the Advent season, we confront the impending return of God as the ultimate judge, wielding fiery anger to punish those who defy Him, disregard His teachings, and break solemn promises. Regardless of religious affiliation, none shall evade His scrutiny.

The Hymn of Hope

In a recent gathering, we raised our voices in the Hymn of the Day, its lyrics portraying a vision of Jesus, God's chosen one, returning with formidable authority as the appointed judge. The hymn forewarns of vanishing joy and the earth engulfed in flames, aligning with scriptural prophecies (LSB 508, v. 1).

However, there is consolation to be found. God's plan extends beyond judgment. Isaiah, in his prayer, pleads for divine patience, drawing a moving analogy between humanity as clay and God as the potter. He implores for forgiveness and mercy, declaring, "Look, we're all your people."

This plea resonates with the teachings encapsulated in the Lord's Prayer, emphasizing our collective identity as God's children. United by a familial bond, God chose to save us before passing judgment.

Our Promise of Eternal Life

This redemptive act, freeing us from the consequences of sin and God's wrath, ensures that the impending judgment will not evoke terror in those who believe. As the scripture affirms, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life" (John 3:15).

The Son of God descended to our earthly realm, assuming our mortal flesh, riding a humble donkey, and facing God's judgment on the cross. This monumental sacrifice liberates us from God's condemning anger, and thus, our Advent Song resounds with "Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD." Amen!


Sermons from Trinity Lutheran Church in Miles City, MT