This Advent: Prepare Yourself for the Coming of God’s Peaceful Kingdom

The 2nd Sunday of Advent is the Sunday of Peace. Peace may be one of the most elusive feelings for the world we live in. There are wars in almost every part of the world today, and it seems more are on the verge of breaking out. And even in our own daily lives, the notion of peace can seem like a pipedream – something we long for but rarely ever possess. But the prophet Isaiah has a message for us. Isaiah tells us that peace has come to earth; that it is in our midst; and that God has started building a Kingdom of Peace that we can all be a part of – today! Many folks get confused about prophecy. When we hear that word today we think about predictions – someone predicting something that might happen in the future. But biblical prophecy is something else. God’s prophets in the Bible were messengers of God’s word to God’s people. They didn’t make predictions. They spoke God’s truth. No “maybes.” Often these prophets warned the chosen people of God about the disastrous consequences that come to them when they do not follow God’s will. 

Isaiah did some of that kind of prophecy. But he is best known for his “messianic” prophecies – telling us of the coming of something new that God would do, and what that would mean for the world. He told the people about the coming of the Messiah. 

In the 11th chapter of the Book of Isaiah, he talks about this Messiah to come: A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. Isaiah is telling us that the Messiah will come from the lineage of Jesse, who is King David’s father. And he tells us this Messiah will be unlike any king we’ve ever seen. He will have wisdom and power that comes directly from God. Indeed, he will be God with us. But even more, Isaiah goes on to tell us about the kind of world that this Messiah will establish. He describes a Kingdom of Peace that is coming with this Messiah. Further on in Chapter 11, Isaiah describes this kingdom: 

The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. Let’s be clear: these are NOT predictions. No “maybes” about this. Isaiah speaks the universal and eternal truth of God. Ever since Jesus came, the doors to this Peaceful Kingdom have been open to us. And even today, in the midst of war, violence, hate and injustice, there will be “Peaceful Kingdom” sightings all over the world. Everything that God intended to bring to the world when he became a little baby in the manger, God has delivered. It is all here. The only question that remains is, when will we join his Kingdom? Jesus has come, and he is coming again. His birth is an amazing gift of God that gave each of us the choice to change our lives and the world we live in. But, we are works in progress! We still have not fully embraced the reign of this new king. We’re still learning how to live the life of love and mercy that he calls us to. The problem was, and is, that we’ve gotten quite comfortable and secure just the way things are. And comfort and security are mighty powerful forces against any change in our lives. Plus, let’s face it; it’s hard to tell if we really believe Isiah anyway. And so Christmas will come and go … again … and nothing will really change. Or maybe not this year — That’s what Advent is for. We still have a great lesson to learn, beginning with Isaiah. That lesson is this: With the coming of Jesus, we are being called to leave the past behind and open our hearts to something brand new. Like Isaiah says – the coming King may be of the root of 

Jesse and the lineage of David — but he will be bringing a kingdom that they could never have imagined. Unlike David, he will not come to set up an earthly kingdom and rule over nations on behalf of the Israelites. Instead — if you can imagine this — he will be bringing a heavenly kingdom — a “Kingdom of God” as he calls it. And in order to understand what this means, and how to be a part of it, you must become willing to surrender your old ways of thinking about God, your old religious beliefs about who God is, and your old prejudices and biases that came along with these traditions — and allow yourself to be consumed with something brand new that God is doing. We have a problem with this! Have you noticed? We prefer to hang on the old stuff that we know and that we’re comfortable with. If we are already the chosen people, then why should we change anything? In Jesus’s time, these people were called Pharisees, among other things. Pharisees are deeply religious people who have devoted their lives to their faith, their Temple, and to God. They consider themselves favored ones who will be “saved” by God and live with him eternally in heaven. Does this sound like you? But what happens when God does something entirely new … and amazing … and miraculous? Pharisees struggle with change. They resist it. Often, they refuse it. They have been known to crucify it. And yet, the Kingdom of God movement continues … moving forward without them. As Isaiah tells us, God is about to do something entirely new this Christmas. It will have ties to the past … but it will be brand new. It will lead us to a kingdom of peace … and indeed already is. This Christmas, will you be ready to accept this new thing that’s coming? This Advent, will you prepare yourself for whatever God has in store for you? Will this Christmas be like all the others … a season of fun and frenzy followed by severe burnout? And in the end, nothing’s changed. Or will it be different this year? Will you be ready to let go of the past — everything in the past – wipe the slate clean — and start a new life with the savior that will come and fill your heart with love? And peace! It all depends on whether you believe the prophecy — whether you trust the truth — whether you are willing to take a leap … of faith … for Christmas! Advent Blessings! 

Pastor Bob