December 3: By Faith
This past Sunday, we entered the season of Advent in the Christian calendar. During Advent, we remember the years of waiting that God’s people experienced — a season of silence between the prophecies and the Prophesied. And we celebrate the end of that silence — when the prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus. The culmination of the Advent season is Christmas (or Christmas Eve), when we rejoice in the “advent” or “coming” of the promised Messiah.
The third verse of By Faith leads us nicely into the Advent season. “By faith the prophets saw a day when the longed-for Messiah would appear, with the pow’r to break the chains of sin and death, and rise triumphant from the grave.” These lyrics remind me of the prophecy which Isaiah gave (Isaiah 61:1-2a) and Jesus explicitly claimed to fulfill (Luke 4:14-20):
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
The lyrics also remind me of Zechariah’s song of praise inspired by the Holy Spirit in Luke 1:67-79:
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), salvation from our enemies…
“Salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
We see in Zechariah’s prayer that the Advent of Jesus means not only release from physical slavery but salvation from our chief oppressors, sin and death. This victory over sin and death is because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:54-57) — whose birth we celebrate in this season.
As a worship leader (and worshipper), one of my favorite things about celebrating Advent in church is hearing the many, many prophecies in Scripture read out loud, and singing songs that relate these Old Testament prophecies to the birth of Christ. As we listen and sing, may we be reminded of all of the wonderful prophecies that Jesus fulfills, and worship him.
For Reflection: Read Isaiah 61. Think about sins in your life, and ask God to forgive your sins in his tender mercy. Think also about suffering you may be enduring, and the pain or death of loved ones. Thank Jesus for coming to earth to bring freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners. Thank him for promising victory over sin and death and an inheritance of joy, salvation, and righteousness. Ask him to help you to live by faith in these promises.