The Kingdom moves more slowly than you’d think, at least when it comes to our final redemption. Not because God is slow, or that God’s desire is not to set all things right. God’s speed in redemption is for the sake of redemption: that none would perish, but all come to repentance.
That means it’s good that God moves more slowly, even if it means we have to wait. And we’ll still be taken off guard when the thief-like Messiah comes to usher in this new earth. The emphasis of Peter, which echoes Jesus’ emphasis, is not to get caught up in when things will happen. They will, and his resurrection and indwelling Spirit are first-fruits of that.
No, Peter wants to see the church get caught up in being found faithful. Holy. Godly. Living in peace.
I think Advent is a hard season to practice sometimes because of the kinds of questions it brings to light. We like to ask questions like, “Who’s excited that Jesus is coming?” But Advent asks more difficult questions:
Are you living a “ready life” in light of the coming Messiah?
Are you striving to live in holiness?
Do you hate sin? Do you desire to be like Christ?
How are you making room for Jesus to arrive in your everyday life?
And those questions can make things a little uncomfortable. I think that’s why it’s important to hear how Peter describes our waiting time in verse 15: “…count the patience of the Lord as salvation.”
Every moment given to us is a salvation moment. We can be redeemed and transformed right now. His patience with us is opportunity to plunge all the more into the deep salvation he has purchased for us. Don’t look at his delay only as moments of longing and want. Look at his delay as an opportunity for the Spirit to continue the work of salvation in your life, as His power transforms you to be more like Christ as you yield to him and follow him. Every moment leading to the new earth holds salvation in the wings.Comments
When the Root of Jesse is enthroned, the peace that overflows from the throne means justice for the peoples of the earth. But it doesn’t stop there. Predators and prey actually live in harmony together. All of nature begins to abide in peace together under the rule of this Spirit-led King.
Again, in the vision given by God to Isaiah, the future God has in store for Israel is bigger than Israel. It has ramifications for Israel- her political, social and spiritual peace- but it extends beyond Israel into the whole of creation.
When the Root of Jesse is enthroned, the very nature of existence changes for us all. Those who know him will overflow with peace, and will begin to live in righteousness and peace with others. What we once were is transformed under the reign of the Messiah, and through his reign the earth is transformed as well.
This is our glorious future. And it is also our glorious present in many ways. For the Spirit who rested upon Jesus, the Root of Jesse, has also been given to us, that in our lives the reign of this Messiah might flood the nations. And it begins in our hearts; His advent into every aspect of our lives.
Which leaves me asking what it means for Christ to reign in me. And how I can make room for this Spirit-led King to bring peace not only into my life, but into my world.Comments
When I was in seminary, I learned to pray the Psalter. Praying Psalms can be an incredible experience. One of my professors told us once that when we pray the Psalms, we pray prayers Jesus likely prayed, for the Psalter is a book of prayers to the Jewish people. I think that’s pretty cool.
There is a beautiful word hidden in the Hebrew of his text that helps the ideas it conveys really shine through: chesed. It is tricky to translate because we don’t really have a word for it in English. Every time you read “steadfast love” in the NRSV, you’re reading the word chesed. It best translates, “covenant faithfulness” or “covenant fidelity”, but carries with it the language of love because of the nature of covenant relationship. Let’s look at verses 6-7 with this definition in mind:
Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your chesed, for they have been from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your chesed remember me, for your goodness’ sake, O Lord!
You see, the psalmist cries out not simply for God’s unchanging or steadfast love; they cry out for God to be faithful and true to his covenant promises. Be faithful to the relationship you established between us! Your mercy of old, rooted in your choice to adopt us as your children- let this be the ground upon which you act! This isn’t simply a cry for mercy; it is an appeal to their history with God and the promises that he made to them.
This is an important aspect of waiting on God: we must remember well what he has done for us, that it would anchor us as we wait to be delivered from our enemies. In Advent, we remember the promise of a deliverer and the fulfillment of that promise. The Word became flesh and tabernacled among us! We have a covenant with Christ through the blood that he shed, and as our Messiah and King, his victory over the enemies of sin, sickness and death will be ours. He has cancelled the penalty of sin for us, and through his Spirit is working out our liberty from its power, which has been broken already in Christ. And soon, he will return to eradicate the very presence of sin in this world, ushering in the new heavens and the new earth.
All of this is secured for us in Christ. We have seen his covenant faithfulness so far, and it is to his chesed we look as we wait for the rest of this promised future to unfold.
I think about Jesus praying this psalm and I wonder what he felt as he prayed these words. Asking not to be put to shame, knowing he had come to bear the full weight of our sin and shame so that we could know and see God’s faithfulness in Him. Pioneering the path of faithfulness that the psalmist asks to know. Sometimes I think of him covering his mouth, restraining himself from saying, “Israel! It’s me! I’m here to lead you in truth and teach you!” And maybe sad that such an outburst would not have been received as he would hope.
But ultimately, I bet he’d pray the last few verses quite loud, letting their truth resonate in the air as the people waited for Him:
Good and upright is the Lord;therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.
All the paths of the Lord are chesed and faithfulness for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.