Advent means ‘arrival.’ It is a season of waiting, where Christians around the world celebrate the arrival of Jesus’ birth at Christmas.
While the culture around us rushes ahead to the celebration, we intentionally join in the practice of waiting, retracing our steps in the great Story, remembering how humanity longed for the hope of Immanuel, God with us. During this Advent, we will retrace some steps, through short articles, going all the way back to the beginning, because the whole story of Scripture has been pointing ahead to the hope of Jesus.
In the Old Testament, God makes five core covenants with these people:
1. Adam & Eve
2. Noah & Family
3. Abraham & Sarah
4. Moses & Israel
5. David & The Kingdom
They are more than marks on a timeline of chronological events. They are an outline of salvation history, fulfilled and completed in Jesus. Together, they give us a context for understanding the Old Testament but even more, they prepare us for the Advent arrival of Jesus. Without them, we can’t see the whole picture.
It is anticipated that through these articles on the covenants, we can gain a deeper understanding of Jesus’ Advent.
Though Christmas is called the season of lights, we should remember that our story starts in darkness, longing for the light to come. Genesis 1 opens with an image of chaos, darkness, void, and the Spirit hovering over the waters. Yet out of that chaos, God brings creation.
The first chapter of the Bible describes the work of his Creation. And the pinnacle of his work comes in verses 26 and 27, the forming of humanity in the image of God.
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So, God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26-27
All of Creation bears his glory. But only humanity bears his image. With that privilege comes a mission. God placed Adam and Eve in his garden, as his representatives, entering into a covenant partnership with them. “He will be our God; we will be his people”. And this covenant involves a commitment on our part to embody his character, his will, his way of being in the world.
However, the story seems to have come apart before it even had a chance to start; the fall, and humanity sinking into depravity. But again, God shows his covenant love to humanity and chooses another representative. Like Adam and Eve, God selects Noah and enters into a covenant with him, on behalf of all of us. He raises up Noah to proclaim the rescue of grace, even in the throes of judgment.
Adam, Eve, Noah, and his family, are chosen as representatives of God’s covenant with humanity. Even though they fail in their covenant mission, God is still faithful to His promise. Genesis 1-3 reminds us that what went wrong in the garden is set right through Jesus.
Genesis 6-9 reminds us that even though sin is judged, grace provides the rescue. And the ultimate fulfillment of this is found in Jesus, who takes upon himself the judgment of sin and becomes the expression of our rescue on the cross. From the start of the story, he has been our long-awaited hope.
Scripture shares that time and time again, sin breaks relationships, the curse creeps in, and the downward spiral continues on. And God continues to plant a seed of hope, and we reap the harvest of redemption. Notice the way that the Advent wreath is without light, until the Hope candle is lit. As we continue in this Advent journey, we remember that Jesus is the fulfillment of every covenant and the Hope for Creation.