Today Protestant churches will light the second candle on the Advent wreath; this candle is associated with the prophecies of Christ’s birth and the faith of those who believed them. How easy it is for us to read the accounts of Jesus’ birth in the New Testament and believe; it is always easy to believe what has occurred. But how hard to hear a prophecy and have the faith to believe that something will occur in the future. Don’t we tend to scoff at anyone who tries to predict what tomorrow will bring? The men and women of old had to have faith that God would fulfill His promises.
Some of the Old Testament prophesies to consider:
- The Messiah would be descended from Abraham, of the tribe of Judah, and a son of King David. In Genesis 22:18 God tells Abraham that “In your seed all nations of the earth shall be blessed”. In Genesis 49:10 Jacob blessed his 12 sons and told them that the ruler of the nations would come from the tribe of Judah. Several hundred years later Jeremiah foretold that the Messiah would be a descendant of King David (23:5) “and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth”.
- The Messiah would come forth from Bethlehem. Sometime between 750-686 BC Micah told that “The One to be ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting” would come out of Bethlehem (5:2). Today’s candle is often referred to as the Bethlehem candle for this reason.
- The Messiah would be born of a virgin. Isaiah offered many Messianic prophesies. In 7:14 he foreshadows the virgin birth of a son who would be called Immanuel and describes a ruler who would be a descendant of Jesse ruling with true justice and faith and establishing true peace in 11:1-10.
Mary and Joseph also received prophetic messages when they were visited by the angel Gabriel who told them of the coming birth of a child who would be the Son of God. Through their faith they believed that God was with them and would accomplish what He told them.
Alleluia. Prepare the way of the Lord. All flesh shall see the salvation of God. Alleluia. (Luke 3:4, 6)
God of timeless grace, you fill us with joyful expectation. Make us ready for the message that prepares the way, that with uprightness of heart and holy joy we may eagerly await the kingdom of your Son, Jesus Christ, who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.
(Prayer is from the Revised Common Lectionary. All scriptures quoted from NKJV, copyright Thomas Nelson 1982)