Advent 2016: The Prince of Peace Week 2 (Sun., Dec. 4th/16)
Last week we noted that the Israelites’ starting point was one of walking in darkness, with “no peace” in their lives and glimpsed the fact that God’s people can walk in the Light and “know peace.” We also explored the 1st purple candle, the “P” in our acronym P.E.A.C.E., which stands for “Prophecy” (the Prophecy Candle, also known as the Candle of Hope). We continue with the 2nd purple candle, the “E”, which stands for “Expectation” (the Bethlehem Candle, also known as the Candle of Preparation).
Even with detailed planning, expectations and reality are often incongruous because many things can go awry. For example, consider the numerous details that are required for planning a wedding. Yet most of us can list the items that didn’t go as expected. We understand that expectations often need to be put aside in order to deal with life’s realities.
People were going about their daily lives when they were unexpectedly obliged to return to their ancestral home towns for an ordered census. Mary and Joseph, and other couples, were expecting to welcome babies into their families. [We know this based on the Scriptures stating that Herod later ordered the slaughter of all male babies who were 2 years old and younger—based on prophecies and the time frame and information given to him by the magi regarding the birth of the King of the Jews.] The 90 miles (120 km) long journey to Bethlehem was danger-filled and challenging for pregnant Mary. [See Luke 2: 1-5]. Joseph and Mary would have realized that her delivery would not occur in the comfort of their home in Nazareth. They probably felt some apprehension as Joseph continued to be turned away from already-full inns--until a sympathetic innkeeper provided them a resting place in his stable. There were many unmet expectations.
Yet the expectations created by the prophecies were fulfilled when Jesus was born. Sadly, many Jews had difficulty believing that the long-awaited Messiah had arrived in a not-so-grand entrance into their world, because their expectations and reality did not match. They believed that the Messiah would deliver them from Roman oppression and set up His Kingdom on earth and not a spiritual one. Consequently, there are Jews who are still waiting for the Messiah’s 1st appearance. Our challenge is to examine our own beliefs and expectations: do we acknowledge our Messiah’s mission and the ways He works in our lives and in the world around us? Have we learned to turn to the Prince of Peace when our lives are turned upside down? Do we know the Scriptures well-enough to outline for non-Christians the prophecies and to share with them how the Prince of Peace is the true Messiah?
Suggested Daily Scripture Readings:
These are some of the Scriptures that speak of God’s preparations for His Son’s entrance into the lives of the “people walking in darkness” in order to shine His Light to bring hope and peace. They also provide an outline for sharing with others.
Sun., Dec.4/16 The Prophets’ (Isaiah and Malachi) Prediction of Jesus’ Forerunner Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 3:1
Mon., Dec. 5/16 John the Baptist’s Birth is Foretold Luke 1: 5-25
Tues., Dec. 6/16 John the Baptist Fulfills Isaiah’s Prophecy Mark 1: 1-3; John 1:23
Wed., Dec. 7/16 Angel Gabriel Prophesied John the Baptist’s Birth Luke 1: 5-25
Thur., Dec. 8/16 The Angel Prophesied Jesus’ Birth Luke 1:26-38
Fri., Dec.6/16 John the Baptist Prepares the Way for Jesus Matthew 3:1-12
Saturday, December 10/16 We Need to be Prepared to Defend the Hope that Christ has Given Us. 1 Peter 3:15
Former Salvation Army Officer