Introduction to Advent
Today marks the first Sunday of Advent. For those who are unaware Advent is a time dedicated to waiting. Contrary to popular thought, Advent is not a countdown to Christmas. It is, as author and Pastor Timothy Paul Jones writes, “The proclamation of the sufficiency of Christ through the discipline of waiting.” This simply means that Advent is a time where we find satisfaction in Jesus Christ through the practice of waiting. Waiting? Yeah, waiting is a discipline for me. I, like many of you, have fallen into the trap of busyness and instant gratification. I don’t like the words “persevere,” “patience,” and “wait.” But this is what Advent is all about. It’s about waiting, preparing, and anticipating.
Originally, Advent was not a celebration of the first coming of the Christ-child, but rather, it was a time of anticipation and preparation for the Second Coming of Christ. However, by the 8th Century, the church (universal) adopted what western Christianity today observes as Advent. Since the 8th century, Advent has become the celebration and observation of the Messiah’s coming to the earth through his birth in Bethlehem (first advent), the anticipation of his future appearance at the end of time (second advent), and the remembrance of his presence among us through the Holy Spirit.
Since Advent is about waiting and anticipating it is appropriate for us in the next four weeks to look back to the expectations and anticipations of the people of Israel as they waited and longed for the coming Messiah. Today we are starting a new series titled “Christmas Prophecies” where we will look back and focus on the Old Testament prophecies that point and speak to the first advent of Jesus Christ.
Some may ask the question, “Why look back in an age of progress?” Because when we look back we see God’s intended plan of redemption from the beginning of time and how God works through His people (Israel), and prophets to bring the act and message of salvation to the nations.
Significance of Messianic Prophecy in O.T.
Let’s begin our look at the significance of the O.T. prophecies by going to the end of the ministry of the earthly ministry of the Messiah.
The Road to Emmaus
One day, post resurrection, two followers of Jesus were walking on the road to Emmaus (about 7 miles from Jerusalem). They were talking about the events that just happened (the crucifixion of Jesus) and suddenly Jesus appears to them on this road. We are told that God/the Holy Spirit kept Jesus’ identity from them. Jesus begins to engage them in conversation about the events of the crucifixion. They clearly were upset because they thought that everything, they believed in was squelched at Calvary. He gently rebukes the men and proceeds to share with about how the O.T. writings were, in fact, about Him… The Messiah.
Luke 24:27 - Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
Did you catch that? Jesus explains how all scriptures from Moses and the prophets pointed to Him.
I don’t know how many times I have had people say to me, “Why are you preaching out of the O.T.? As Christians we should be focusing on the N.T.! The Old Testament is no longer valid because Jesus did away with it. Sure, when you look at it from that perspective, I understand people’s concern. However, when you consider the words of the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 3:16 -17, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” you understand why. ALL SCRIPTURE… Including the O.T.
Genesis to Malachi
The Old Testament points us to the coming Messiah. You may not know this, but Jesus is evident throughout the Old Testament. It is chock full of prophecies regarding Him and His future redemption. Now, we do not have nearly enough time to go through every prophecy concerning the Messiah, but we will look at a few in the coming weeks. Plus, in 2022 we are planning on going through an overview of the whole bible and we will see more connections to Christ in the O.T. in that series.
So, let’s go back to the beginning… the Genesis. In the opening chapters of the Bible, we witness the beautiful act of creation. In God’s creation He creates paradise and gives humans dominion over his creation. Unfortunately, only three chapters in we see how God’s paradise is corrupted and his communion with his creation is severed due to the acts of sin and disobedience… Eating the fruit from the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In this act of sin and deception God places judgment on the guilty parties… the man, the woman, and the serpent. This judgment is the beginning of a longtime battle between good and evil. However, tucked in this judgment (Genesis 3:15) we see something hopeful, something promising, and something for all humanity to anticipate in the future.
“Protoevangelium” or the first gospel account of the Bible. The Offspring refers to Jesus Christ, the Messiah. This offspring of the woman is foretold as being at war with Satan and his “offspring” (his followers the demons and evil powers). It will be a war for the soul that Satan cannot win. A prophecy is spoken and proclaimed over the serpent.
He will strike your head – Death, resurrection & redemption. Jesus delivers a fatal blow to Satan and his demonic kingdom because will is the perfect sacrifice for humanity. All who believe will be redeemed and made right with the father; thus destroying the work of the devil.
You will strike his heal – Satan will seemingly celebrate a short and temporary victory as the crucifixion unfolds. The death and rejection of Jesus will be painful and harsh and temporary… non-lethal (bruise his heal). From the offset it will appear Satan has won but in the end Jesus will be victorious.
Thus, we see in this one small portion of scripture and continuing throughout Genesis God’s plans revolve around a collective the offspring that comes from the line of Abraham: the nation of Israel. Throughout we see the hardships, disappointments and challenges the patriarchs face, especially in barrenness (no children) we see this barrenness is overcome by God’s help throughout, “it is God himself . . . who is responsible for the birth of the promised ‘seed.’” Including Israel, but more specifically Jesus himself.
Matthew 2:13 – 15
Now, let’s go to today’s text found in Matthew 2:13 – 15. This short passage contains a prophecy fulfillment found in the short Minor Prophet Hosea.
Vs 13: “After the wise men had gone…” The Nativity story contains many parts and includes many people. In this passage it talks about the Magi. We have talked about the Magi in previous years, but it is the Magi who come and visit the young Jesus and lavish him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and Myrrh. Originally, they were going back to Herod to tell him the location of the newborn king, but an angel of the Lord tells them not to go back. In this God takes sovereign action to protect his Messiah. God is beginning to work behind the scenes. He takes proactive measures to protect his chosen Messiah.
Vs 14: “That night…” When the angel appears to Joseph, he is told to get up (right away) and go to Egypt. This shows the urgency of the angel’s directions. That night the angel spoke about Herod, and that night Mary, Joseph and Jesus left for Egypt. Traveling at night was not ideal and very dangerous. This tells us there is a sense of urgency. Then we are told Joseph, Mary, and Jesus’ calling out of Egypt was a fulfillment of a prophecy found in Hosea 11:1.
This is an unusual prophecy to cite because when reading the full prophecy of Hosea 11 we get the impression the prophet is talking about another King David. Biblical scholar James E. Smith writes, “Just as Hosea expected another David, so here he expects another Israel, one who would be called as a child by God. Matthew sees in this verse a reference to Christ” (Matt 2:15).
Throughout the Bible Egypt is place of refuge to those fleeing Israel when things went bad.
Background of Hosea (the Book)
The book of Hosea is interesting to say the least. The prophet, Hosea, is commanded to marry a prostitute as a symbol of how Israel has become unfaithful to God. There is so much to this minor prophet book, and I would encourage you to read it today or this week. In the book GOD’S MESSIAH IN THE OLD TESTAMENT the author writes, “the heart of the prophecy is a story of love gone wrong. The turbulent marriage of Hosea and Gomer (Hosea 1 and 3) reflects the history of the covenant relationship between God and Israel from the exodus to the exile and to the return (chap. 2). Gomer’s sin, punishment, and restoration become a symbol of God’s dealings with Israel. After the merited punishment of the exile, there will be a new exodus, a new wilderness journey, a new entry into the land, and a renewing of the covenant that involves the restoration of monarchic rule in Israel.” It is even in this prophecy as a collection we see that it all points to the restoration of the monarchy, but this monarchy is not of a human ruler, but the divine Messiah who is yet to come.
So, as I conclude the message for today, we can ask the question, “What does any of this have to do with anything?” Glad you asked…
In lieu of the temptation to get caught up in all the hustle and bustle of Christmas this year, let’s re-focus and commit to the discipline of finding sufficiency in Jesus Christ. Let’s take comfort in knowing…
 Smith, J. E. (1994). The Minor Prophets (p. 264). Joplin, MO: College Press.
 Abernethy, Andrew T.; Goswell, Gregory. God's Messiah in the Old Testament (p. 124). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
There are an abundance of teachings, beliefs, and religions all claiming to possess or know “the way” to God. They claim to have the keys to eternal life, nirvana, paradise, happiness, or etc. Some mix and match different theological and philosophical thoughts and beliefs to customize their own personal religion; it is personally designed individually just for you. Since time began humans have loved the idea of custom-made spirituality. The world loves the pluralistic religious culture it has created, resulting in society no longer holding to or knowing absolute truth. Truth has become relative.
I was in a conversation with someone years ago and I remember him saying, with slight tongue in cheek, “When I was young 2+2 = 4, today though 2+2 = whatever you want it to be.” Unfortunately, there is some truth to his statement. Sadly, truth in religion has become taboo because people who believe in one way to God or “The way” to Jesus are deemed as narrow-minded bigots. Religious and social tolerance is preached across the globe and if someone speaks up about certain teachings or beliefs being false; then you are immediately deemed a hateful, judgmental, and phobic person. Sometimes Christians are believed to be irrelevant and stuck in the dark ages, simply because we commit to living in obedience to God and holding to the conviction that the Word of God is inspired, it is absolute truth, and teaches that Jesus is the only way to God the Father.
We live in a consumer age where choice is king. We have the right to choose to shop wherever we want for whatever we want, eat at any restaurant we want, and they will make your meal the way you want, and if they don’t, we will go someplace else. We even have this mindset for the churches we attend.
Many years ago, the queen of talk, Oprah was confronted by a member of her television studio audience questioning her views about God. The woman speaking mentioned the words of Jesus being the way, the truth, and the life. Oprah responded, “There couldn’t possibly be only one way… there are millions of ways that lead a person to the Light or what others call god!” In her mind there are millions of ways to finding your way to what one thinks is God.
With the millions of philosophical thoughts, ideas, teachings, religions, and theories out there today (and many more new thoughts coming to light every day), how is one able to know, discern, or embrace truth? How can you and I find truth amidst the plethora of religious thought and belief’s that the world so lovingly embraces?
The Truth Is in Here
“What is truth?” This was a question asked over 2,000 years ago by Pilate to Jesus. This question was asked in response to the statement Jesus made, “For this purpose I have come into the world- to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, then you are a person of truth. We are a church of the truth. We bear witness to the truth.
I Thessalonians 2: 13 – 15
Vs 13a: “We never stopped thanking God that when you received his message from us, you didn’t think of our words as mere human. You accepted what we said as the very word of God- which of course it is.” The Church of Thessalonica was a Church of truth. According to the Apostle Paul they were a Bible believing and Bible teaching Church. How do we know this? because this verse tells us they accepted the Word of God. They loved the Word of God. They received the Word of God. Paul thanked God continually for their love of the truth. In the Bible the Word of God is equal to the truth. This is displayed throughout the Bible. Jesus prayed in John 17:17, Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is the truth.” The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 33:4, “For the Word of the LORD holds true, and we can trust everything he does.” Proverbs 30:5 states, “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to all who come to him for protection.”
When Paul and his companions came to Thessalonica years before he came proclaiming the Word of God.
Acts 17 shows us what happened prior to the Thessalonians embracing the Word of truth. Paul went to the synagogue in Thessalonica for three weeks, which was his custom, and he began sharing the Gospel with anyone who would here. Paul verbally spoke the Word of God. He proclaimed verbally the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ unashamedly. Why? Because the Gospel had impacted his life so much. The transformation in the Apostles life is nothing short of a miracle. He was once a murderous Christian killer who is now a redeemed follower of Jesus himself. Paul knew the reality of the transforming power of Jesus. He knew the power of the Word of God. It was his life; his passion and purpose and he was going to share it with whoever would here.
While he was preaching the Gospel, he annoyed some prominent men, and he persuaded a group of others. The prominent were the religious Jews and the ones he persuaded were mostly Gentiles. The Gentiles heard, responded to, and embraced the truth amidst all the turmoil that was going on around them. The Jews stirred up a riot and Paul and his companions fled for their lives to the town of Berea. One of the Gentile believers, Jason’s, home was attacked, and he was dragged out with some other men and brought before the authorities and persecuted. The authorities took money from them and eventually let them go free. Paul and his companions had only spent three weeks with the Thessalonian Gentiles, and they were so convinced of the transforming Word of God that they willingly endured persecution and financial loss. These Gentiles were sold out followers of Jesus who lovingly accepted and embraced the Word of God, the truth.
Note, this was not a casual belief or a response to the fad of the time. The people of Thessalonica accepted the words Paul proclaimed (the truth) as words spoken by God. These men were convinced that Paul was not preaching a man-made Gospel. He was preaching a divine, Holy Spirit inspired message from God himself. They were so convinced this was God’s Word that they were willing to endure persecution and potential death.
Vs 13b: “And this word continues to work in you who believe.” This Church didn’t just listen to the Word of God… They were changed/transformed by it. It was at work in them as followers of Christ. The message they heard and embraced changed them; as it always should. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is alive and powerful, it is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” What are some words that may stand out to you to show the Word of God is at work? It is ALIVE – meaning that it has and contains life. God’s Word still speaks to the hearts of individuals today. It is POWERFUL. The Word of God has the power to transform and change individuals for the glory of God. It is CUTTING which means it has the power to convict and correct.
Vs 14 - 15: Because the Thessalonians embraced the Word of God, they also experienced the same trials, tribulations, and persecutions that the Church of Jesus Christ was facing all over the world. The same people who had it out for Jesus had it out for his Church These same men had Jesus killed. These same men had prophets killed. These same men inevitably opposed all humanity by hindering Paul, his companions, and the churches by hindering them from sharing the Gospel on a grand scale. Because of this some were not able to receive salvation… But God will and does always have the last Word.
When we look at these three short verses today, we can ask, “How can these passages be applied to me/us today?” As followers of Jesus Christ everything we hold true must be rooted in the Word of God and in the person of Jesus Christ. We live in a world where the lines of truth are clouded and even vanishing. Truth is now becoming about majority rule. If the majority agrees something is right or wrong, then it is. So how does this affect us as believers in Jesus Christ? How do we ensure that we remain in the truth?
Have you ever been betrayed by someone? Has someone ever betrayed your trust or hurt you so badly you thought you could never forgive or trust this person again? Maybe this betrayal was done by a close friend, a trusted confidant, or a relative and this made it more difficult to endure. This deception may have shaken you to the core or to a place where you still have difficulty trusting people today. The act of betrayal is defined as a violation of a person's trust or confidence, of a moral standard. It is the act of hurting someone who trusts you, such as a friend or relative by not giving help or by doing something morally wrong against them. I can think of multiple times where I have been betrayed and even an instance or two in my younger days where I had betrayed someone’s trust or confidence. I know for certain; betrayal hurts and it’s often hard to bounce back.
We are continuing our series “Ordinary Rebels” and today we are going to look at an individual from the New Testament who is notorious for his act of betrayal. We see the ugliness of betrayal throughout the Bible with stories like Joseph and his brothers, David and Bathsheba’s husband, and a few others but none so much as in the disciple Judas Iscariot’s act of betraying the Lord Jesus Christ. We see in this betrayal the darkness of the human heart and the way Satan uses people to commit some of the most heinous acts of evil against one another.
Judas Iscariot is one of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ. He is listed in all four Gospels as a disciple of Jesus Christ. He is always listed with a dishonorable depiction of who he was such as Judas, the one who betrayed him (Jesus) or Judas, the one who became a traitor. His dishonorable acts are most likely, why he is always placed last or least among the twelve. We don’t a lot about Judas, but what do know he is not painted in a positive light. The major role he plays in the Gospel account does not come until later in Jesus’ ministry and predominantly at the conclusion of his earthly ministry by handing him over to the authorities to be crucified.
Judas was appointed as the treasurer of the band of disciples who followed Jesus (John 13:29). In the Gospel of John, he is also described as a thief because he stole money from the group’s money box (John 12:6). This thievery may have been something they discovered after he left the group or after he had died. He is also the disciple who criticizes Mary for pouring her expensive perfume over Jesus’ feet and washing them with her hair. He approaches Jesus and asks why she would waste such expensive perfume by pouring it over his feet when they could have taken it, sold it, and given the money to the poor (John 12:3 – 5). Some could say, “that’s a good point!” but we know that charity was not his motivation. In fact, his motivation is in question among scholars as most believe he had no intention of selling the expensive perfume and giving it to the poor, but instead would have kept the money for the disciples and most likely using the money to line his pockets. Thus, many conclude that his suggestions were impure and motivated by his greed and deception.
This morning we are going to look at the remainder of what we know about Judas which are found in the Gospel accounts.
Matthew 26:14 – 16
After Judas criticizes Mary for her wasteful act Judas meets with the leading priests od Israel. It is in this meeting he conspires to betray Jesus for an agreed upon price. We see that he would be paid 30 pieces of silver by the priests to betray him. We read that once the price was agreed upon Judas began to plot his betrayal.
Matthew 26:17 - 25
Following the meeting with the priests Judas joins with the rest of the disciples as they prepare for and observe Passover. During the dinner Jesus tells the disciples that one of the twelve will betray him. One by one they began to wonder and ask if it was them. In verse 25 it would seem Jesus publicly identifies Judas as the one, but in John 13:26 – 30 we see Jesus identify him secretly as the betrayer, because the rest of the disciples did not know that it was him. John 13: 28 - 30 says, “None of the others at the table knew what Jesus meant. Since Judas was their treasurer, some thought Jesus was telling him to go and pay for the food or to give some money to the poor. So, Judas left at once, going out into the night.” Interestingly, we are told in both John and Luke that when he ate the bread that Satan entered Judas. This indicates to us that this was a spiritual matter and Judas’ act was motivated by spiritual darkness. Satan uses Judas to be the instrument to supposedly bring down the Savior of the world. However, we know that what Satan did was not something that brings victory to his evil empire, instead it is the beginning of the plan to destroy it.
Matthew 26:47 – 50
Jesus goes to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. It is in this prayer Jesus has an intimate moment with the Father and asks, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Shortly thereafter, Judas approaches Jesus and kisses him, thus identifying him to the authorities. Immediately he is arrested.
John 18:1 – 7
John’s account is a bit different and more dramatic. We are told that after Jesus had finished his prayer and concluded his farewell discourse, he went to a garden that he went to often with his disciples (Luke 22:39). Judas knew Jesus would be there at this time. He brought with him Roman soldiers (possibly up to 200) and the temple police to the garden to have Jesus arrested. Judas kisses Jesus, but John does not record it. Jesus meets the group and asks who they are seeking? They (we are not sure who “they” are) responds, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus replies, “I am he.” The literal translation is “I am.” John tells us the soldiers drew back or as the NET Bible says, “they retreated” or moved back and fell to the ground. What happened at this moment? Why did the soldiers fall? More conservative biblical scholars believe that the soldiers in the front may have jumped back when Jesus unexpectedly advanced forward causing those in the front to start a domino effect of soldiers falling to the ground. Others believe the falling was a result of a Theophany (an appearance of God to humans) causing his enemies to fall back and fall prostrate before him. Both are plausible, but I hold more to the second view. Either way we know Jesus is in control of the situation. In this moment they are hit by a power such as that which struck the Apostle Paul and his companions in Acts 26:14. It was the magnificent radiance of the majesty of Jesus Christ which overwhelmed them. This show of power before he submitted to authorities would show His authority over evil, and the freedom with which He submitted Himself to them. I think it’s important for us (whether a believer or not) to know and understand as Pastor Tim Keller says in his sermon, I AM HE “Nobody can stand on their feet in the presence of God.” The power of God is awesome in all senses of the word. Not only is it awesome, but awe inspiring. I believe in Jesus we see the power of God manifested in His name (I AM, Yahweh). If the mere mention of the name of God can bring a squad of soldiers to their knees, and cause demons to tremble, then we should acknowledge, recognize and respect the power of God and his name altogether.
After this happened Jesus asks them again whom they seek and informs them he is the one they seek. He tells them to let the men with him go unharmed. Then Peter decides he wants to seize the opportunity and attacks the High Priest’s servant cutting off his ear. Peter’s knee jerk reaction spurs Jesus to let everyone know he is not seeking violence but will go peacefully. In fact, he rebukes Peter by asking him, “Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” This is his way of saying to Peter, “This all has to happen. This has been set since the beginning of time. I must do as the Father says in order to accomplish the plan from the start.” As we can see Jesus has accepted the mission the Father has given to Him. His death on the cross was not a hiccup in the plan of God, it was THE plan from the beginning.
Matthew 27:3 – 10
When Judas realized that his betrayal was the death sentence of Jesus Christ, he could not live with himself. Interestingly, we are told that he was filled with remorse. Was this repentance? Was this guilt? Was this a man who came to, once the devil left him? We do not know. We do know that once he realized he had sold out his friend, mentor, and savior for thirty shekels of silver he took the silver and threw it down on the temple floor and then took his life. It is a sad testimony to the end of his life. He was not martyred for his faith in Christ, he took his life because he his friend, mentor, and the God of the universe in the flesh.
In these passages we see the curtain rising to the final “act” in the Gospel account. The irony to the Good News of this story is that tragedy must strike in order for the news to be good. Since the time of creation this has been the plan of God. Jesus must take this cup and he must drink it in order for those who believe to be redeemed. What I find most beautiful is our perfect Savior lovingly, willingly, and obediently going to the cross of Calvary to give life for us the flawed followers of Jesus. Rejoice in this today. Know you have a Savior who has all the power of God available to him (even so much that at the mere mention of the name of God his enemies fall over) and yet he humbles himself to the point of death so that we who believe may have life and have it abundantly.
In this betrayal we certainly see the ugly side of sinful humanity. We see a man who some may have debated as to his purpose in the Gospel account and others question whether he was truly a follower of Jesus Christ. But what we do see is that God uses people, even in their sinful state, to accomplish his purpose. Was Judas a true Christian? Was he faking it all along? Was he pulling a fast one on God? Was Satan using him? These are all questions that can be answered in one way or another, but my purpose is not to go there this morning. What I see in this passage is the true core of the sinful human heart. Below are some observations…
Jeff has been in full-time ministry for thirty years. He currently serves as Executive Director at Anchor House Ministry at SeaPort Manatee in Palmetto, FL and he is a part-time Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Southside in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored A Lent Devotional (A Spiritual Journey to Lent) an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). All three are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
Preview or purchase Jeff's Books