Israel in the decades of Roman oppression had known 7 centuries of oppression - the horrific Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Greek influenced Ptolemies, the Greek influenced Syrians, the Romans.
And yet they have hope. From the period of Roman rule we have an entire copy of the Isaiah scroll. It includes these words.
How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of the messenger who announces peace,
who brings good news,
who announces salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
Listen! Your sentinels lift up their voices,
together they sing for joy;
for in plain sight they see
the return of Yahweh to Zion.
Break forth together into singing,
you ruins of Jerusalem;
for Yahweh has comforted his people,
he has redeemed Jerusalem.
Yahweh has bared his holy arm
before the eyes of all the nations;
and all the ends of the earth shall see
the salvation of our God.
In the First Week of Advent we are encouraged by the HOPE of the Jewish people over two thousand years ago. They believed that the Creator God who was their Covenant God Yahweh was faithful.
They trusted that they would see the day when the prophets would be able to say: "Your God Reigns."
But at the time of Jesus of Nazareth the Romans were in control their great Fortress Antonio looked down on the temple courtyards.
Imagine such HOPE.
Amid such oppression the Jews worshipped with their oppressors watching on.
And events occurred where Jewish followers of Jesus of Nazareth were able to tell stories of a baby being born who vindicated Israel's hope.
In Jesus resurrection the Jewish followers of Jesus truly are able to say, "Our God Reigns"
And so they told Jesus stories. Stories from his birth, his childhood, his three year stunning ministry, his death but also his resurrection.
Stories of his Ascension, announcing his rule.
So we celebrate their HOPE as vindicated.
And we worship in Advent announcing our HOPE.
Our HOPE that daily we can trust in King Jesus to help us announce ,"Jesus of Nazareth reigns!"
Our HOPE that we can trust in King Jesus to hear our prayers and respond.
Our HOPE that in the midst of trials we can trust King Jesus.
Can we share with our neighbours in this first week of Advent that this is a time of HOPE?
What HOPES do we have this Advent Season to announce to our neighbours?
What HOPES do we have this Advent Season to bring to our Lord Jesus in worship?
May this ADVENT be a time when in worship we reflect on how we live our life in HOPE.
I started following Jesus in 1972 while a journalist for The Courier Mail. I moved overseas in 1977 living in China, the USA, the UK for a little under 30 years. I returned to Australia in 2005. I love being among the nations. I love study. I love encouraging the coming generations.