Advent is a season of anticipation. Fundamentally and intrinsically, Advent is a season set a side for waiting, watching, and longing.
And I don’t know about you, but I’ve never liked waiting.
The word “Advent” simply means “The Arrival,” and in the church calendar it marks our Christian season of anticipating the arrival our Savior. “The Arrival” is the place where all of our Christian hope is bound up – the place where our faith finds its flourishing and our longing is met with deepest satisfaction. And that’s not all; we Christians are sitting historically between two Advents – the first arrival of Christ, and His second, promised coming. Our lives occupy historic space between two benchmarks – Jesus’ fulfilled promise to come, and anticipating His final coming, which He has also promised. As such, we sit in what theologians refer to as the “already, not yet.” Christ has come – truly, historically, and surely He has come! And yet … we are still awaiting His final Advent, the time at which He will come and make all things right.
Because of all this, Advent is a season of decided waiting. It’s a time, even, of decided dissatisfaction in which we remind ourselves that there is so much more awaiting us than what we could ever dream. During Advent, we fix our eyes on the heavenly horizon, reminded that God kept His promise at Christmas and that, rest assured, He will keep His promise in the end. In Advent, we choose to wait, to crave, to long. Even when we feel restless, even when our feet are tired of standing and our eyes weary of waiting, Advent is our reminder to press into the longing.
Over the next twenty-five days we’re going to anticipate the coming of Christ together. Each day of study begins with a reading assignment, followed by commentary and questions for reflection. Each day of study closes with prayer points to direct your time in prayer. I am intentionally not including the Biblical text in this digital format. I want you to grab your Bible, open it, and remember – before you read anything else – that God’s Word alone is the source of Truth. Though it is not good business practice, it is absolutely vital that you understand that you do not need commentary or questions or prayer points, but you desperately need the Word of God. So, open your Bible. Read it. Savor it.
As I have been preparing this Advent study, you have been in my prayers. Through the research, writing, and designing phases, my prayer has been the same: Lord, bring Your people to Your Word with delight, hunger, and affection. That is my prayer for you throughout this Advent season.
Two days of study will include a little bit of work with the original language that the book of Matthew was written in – Greek. Don’t let this intimidate you. It is another way we choose to love God with all our minds as we do the hard work of study, but it is certainly not beyond our capabilities. There will be plenty of commentary to guide you along the way (and let me assure you that if I can learn Greek, anyone can).
Finally, below are the works I referenced as I prepared this study. If you have any questions about this study or about this ministry, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bruner, Frederick Dale. The Christbook: a historical/Theological commentary: Matthew 1-12. Word Books, 1987. Hamilton, Victor P.
The Book of Genesis. W.B. Eerdmans, 1990.
Waltke, Bruce K., and Cathi J. Fredricks. Genesis: a commentary. Zondervan, 2012.
READ MATTHEW ONE
Take a close look at the first few words in Matthew 1:1. Matthew says that the book he is writing is a "book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ."
If you know anything about the rest of the book of Matthew, what do you know about it? What narratives do you remember? Are there any key Scriptures that come to mind from this book?
If you were to summarize what the book of Matthew is all about just from your few notes from the question about, what would you say about it?
Does Matthew's opening statement - telling us that this is a book about the genealogy of Jesus - surprise you at all?
Matthew's opening words are vital and intentional. Tomorrow we will look at this little phrase in-depth and in the original Greek. But for today, here is what we need to know: the family tree of Jesus is much more significant than originally meets the eye. Matthew wants us to know right off the bat that this isn't just a list of arbitrary names recorded for historic purposes. He's not just tracing the whereabouts of a man named Jesus (though he also does that), but he is setting out to teach us all about the family of God because the family that God builds for Himself intrinsically displays His unchanging character.
PRAY & REFLECT
Thank God for the gift of His Word. Thank Him that we can search it with delight and depth. Ask Him to fill you with anticipation this Advent season and to increasing your longing for Him.