Second Sunday of Advent
In verse one of the Malachi reading, we see, Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. ESV This sounds like Isaiah 40:3: A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” ESV That passage is quoted by Luke in today’s reading where Luke attaches the command to John.
But this being the season of Advent, we should consider the messenger to be Jesus. Indeed, when we look at the third reading for today, we read: so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ. NIV
When we go to the Daily Lectionary for this week, we see passages from Numbers, 2 Samuel, and Nehemiah, each of which points to the coming Messiah. In Isaiah 1:24-31, we read verses 30-31: Like an unwatered garden, withered and brown. ‘The Big Man’ will turn out to be dead bark and twigs, and his ‘work,’ the spark that starts the fire That exposes man and work both as nothing but cinders and smoke. MSG This prophecy can only refer to the Messiah.
There are other readings this week from Luke. In Luke 11:29-32, Jesus condemns, not his followers, but the crowd of critics who try to prove that Jesus was a false prophet. He said to them, On Judgment Day the Ninevites will stand up and give evidence that will condemn this generation, because when Jonah preached to them they changed their lives. A far greater preacher than Jonah is here, and you squabble about ‘proofs.’ MSG
And in Luke 21:20-24 Jesus speaks of the destruction of Jerusalem. But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armed forces, then you will know that the time of her devastation has arrived. Phillips
These are not passages we want to read at Christmas. The peace that the Messiah came to establish cannot be established without the destruction of the old ways. Look at verse 6 of the Philippians reading for today. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. ESV We will see all that is Godly, Holy, and perfect when the Messiah returns at the end of time.
Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:4-5: But you, brothers, are not in the dark, so that the Day should take you by surprise like a thief; for you are all people who belong to the light, who belong to the day. We don’t belong to the night or to darkness. CJB We can look forward to the times of trials because we have the Light to keep us on the path.
2 Peter 3:1-18, verses 9-12a: The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some people think of slowness; on the contrary, he is patient with you; for it is not his purpose that anyone should be destroyed, but that everyone should turn from his sins. However, the Day of the Lord will come “like a thief.” On that Day the heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will melt and disintegrate, and the earth and everything in it will be burned up.
Since everything is going to be destroyed like this, what kind of people should you be? You should lead holy and godly lives, as you wait for the Day of God. CJB
But the last word belongs to Jesus. Revelation 22:12-16. See, I come quickly! I carry my reward with me, and repay every man according to his deeds. I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the Beginning and the End. Happy are those who wash their robes, for they have the right to the tree of life and the freedom of the gates of the city. Shut out from the city shall be the depraved, the sorcerers, the impure, the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practises a lie!
I, Jesus, have sent my angel to you with this testimony for the Churches. I am both the root and stock of David, and the bright star of the morning! Phillips
Read my earlier comments on this theme here.
Be righteous and do good.