Advent – the God of the Before
“Before the coming of Jesus, John preached repentance and baptism to all the people of Israel.”
Paul is carefully but briefly plotting out the preparation that God was doing for the coming of His Son. He shows how John the Baptist born just a few months before Jesus was given the purpose of fore-runner, setting the scene for the ministry of Jesus.
Things were happening before the coming of Jesus that was necessary for that advent. Today is a product of yesterday. God was working in and for your life even before you knew Him. Even when it looked like God was silent, He wasn’t.
It was perhaps a couple of years after the birth of Jesus. The Magi had been and gone. Joseph and Mary are left alone with the Christ-child. But in their room are expensive and substantial gifts. This was a high time for Joseph and Mary. They were overcome with such provision – what are we going to do with all this, this is too much?
Within hours they would realise that God had provided at just the right time for them. They would need the gifts from the Magi to get them through the next period of time, on the journey and staying in a foreign country, Egypt.
When it feels like God cannot change the events of your life, take a step back, turn back the clock, it may only be for a few hours, but turn it back and you will find that He has been preparing you and providing for you in all that you will need for this period of time.
God was there before God is.
Isaiah prophesied in 7:14 of a virgin giving birth to a child whose name would mean “God with us;”
Micah prophesied in 5:2, that from Bethlehem would come a ruler whose “goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.”
In at least Isaiah and Micah’s life but many more, God was. He was preparing them, revealing His plan. I am here but I am coming.
The Jews longed for the day. Simeon was looking for the ‘consolation of Israel’ (Luke 2:25) and when he saw Jesus he knew the hope of the world was fulfilled.
In 1744 Charles Wesley wrote a Christmas hymn:
Come, Thou long-expected Jesus, born to set Thy people free; from our fears and sins release us; let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation, hope of all the earth Thou art; dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.
Perhaps not everyone’s favourite carol yet it reminds us of the expectation that had been growing, simply because God was preparing.
Before your today, God was working. Look around you. The King has come because the King was here.