"Shout and be glad…I am coming, and I will live among you," declares the LORD. "Many nations will be joined with the LORD in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you. The LORD will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land and will again choose Jerusalem. Be still before the LORD, all people, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling."
The Jewish prophets had spoken of a special “anointed one,” a Messiah, who would come from God to save His people from the ravages of sin. But then the prophecies ended and God was silent for nearly 400 years. The nation of Israel waited. Sometimes things looked hopeless and sometimes things looked brighter, but as the years passed their hopes that Messiah would soon arrive grew dim. Had God forgotten his promise that a man would come who would defeat evil and restore the earth and God’s people to glory?
Zechariah’s words are both astounding and full of hope. Not only does the passage say that the Lord will send someone, the prophecy says that the Lord Himself will come and live among people! They must have thought this was figurative language. After all, how could God live with them? And as for many nations belonging to God? Unthinkable! Every one knew Jews were God’s chosen.
Looking back, it seems obvious to us, doesn’t it? Of course, God would keep his promise. Of course, God intended to bless the whole world and not just the tiny nation of Israel. Of course, God will “rouse Himself” at the right time. Things are always clearer in hindsight. They were in the middle of hard times, living in sadness and disappointment, and their vision was forward to something not yet seen, not backward to a known event as ours is. Shout and be glad? When the wait is long, and the words of hope seem faint and far away, well then it is not always so simple to believe. Is he really going to come?
During this first week of Advent we remember what it is like to wait in hope, even when the wait is long.
Prayer: God of Promises, it is one thing to shout and be glad when miracles are happening, blessings are coming in, and things seem good. Help me to keep an attitude of hope and joy even when I wonder when, or if, the things you have promised me will ever happen. Help me remember that your people waited for hundreds of years, yet you were right on time. I will hope in you, O Lord! Amen