This week, many Christians around the world will be celebrating the first week of advent. The word “Advent” means coming or arrival.
During this time, we celebrate the arrival of the Christ child, the Nativity of the Son of God, in Bethlehem. At the same time we are looking forward to His second coming. Each of the four Sundays in Advent are assigned one special focus or application: Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.
In this first week of advent we look at Hope. It is very fitting to start with Hope as it was the hope of the arrival of the long-awaited Messiah that filled the hearts of the angels, shepherds and wise men with joy.
Just as importantly, we have what the Bible tells us is the Blessed Hope of the Second Coming of Jesus. Paul tells us that the grace of God enables us “to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:12-13)
The blessed hope of every Christian is the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ, our great God and Savior. This hope is not uncertain, but an assurance that Jesus will return just has Jesus said he would return. By the blessed hope we look forward to an event called the rapture. This word rapture The word “rapture” was from the Latin “rapio” meaning to be “caught up” used in 1st Thessalonians 4:17.
After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (NIV)
This same event is also described in 1 Corinthians 15:51-58
Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.
This event called the rapture is eminent, meaning there are no prerequisites before Jesus is to return. The ancient church was convinced that Jesus was going to return and I believe it is exactly the way every Christian generation should live. While there are no prerequisites to the second coming of Jesus, the prophets tell of certain events that will happen including the gathering of the dispersed people of Israel and their return to Jerusalem, the holy city. Jesus also promised in Matthew 24:14, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
So this week, the First Week of Advent we celebrate Hope.
There’s a song by Chris Tomlin that speaks of this blessed hope. It’s called “I will Rise”
Here’s a portion:
There's a day that's drawing near
When this darkness breaks to light
And the shadows disappear
And my faith shall be my eyesJesus has overcome
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead
And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles' wings
Before my God fall on my knees
I will rise