Advent Week Two: Prophecy
By Zach Dietrich
Advent means “arrival” or “coming.” During Advent, we celebrate the first and future coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Throughout history, Advent has often been a time of preparation.
How do you prepare for Christmas? Are you up early to snag discounted decorations on December 26? Do you request time off for Black Friday months in advance so you won’t miss a deal when November comes? Maybe you pay extra for overnight shipping because you procrastinated. Heaven forbid you are that husband in his sixth store on Christmas Eve thinking, “Please have her size!”
That’s not what we mean by preparation. We mean heart preparation. Every year we sing, “Let every heart prepare Him room.” But how do we prepare our hearts? Long ago, God sent a messenger to help his people prepare for the coming Messiah.
“Prepare the way of the Lord!” preached John the Baptist. He fulfilled a 700-year-old prophecy from Isaiah to Israel: “Prepare the way of the LORD in the wilderness; make a straight highway for our God in the desert. Every valley will be lifted up, and every mountain and hill will be leveled; the uneven ground will become smooth and the rough places, a plain” (Isaiah 40:3-4).
“Every valley will be lifted up, and every mountain and hill will be leveled.” This mountain-crushing, valley-lifting preparation isn’t some ancient snow plow to clear a path to grandmother’s house. It’s heart preparation.
Isaiah’s mountain-crushing, valley-lifting prophecy echoes the paradox of the gospel. A king comes in a manger. The maker becomes a baby. Life comes through death. The lowly are lifted, and the proud are brought down. In other words, you prepare for the Messiah by confessing how hopelessly unprepared you are.
Are you in the valley? Has the last year left you broken or discouraged? Have you been awakened to the bankruptcy of your heart? “Every valley will be lifted up.” God’s glory shines brightest in your darkest places.
Or, has the allure of earthly possessions and success outshone the glory of God? Is self-righteousness growing stealthily in your heart? Every mountain will be leveled. Repent and find grace in Jesus, our good shepherd.
Advent is a season of preparation, so don’t quit shopping, baking, wrapping, or decorating. But do slow down and prepare by praying, repenting, and confessing. Confess the lesser glories that outshine Christ. Perhaps even fast to make the feasts even more sweet. Make time to quiet your distracted soul and prepare Him room.
- Sing together: Joy to the World
- Read together: Isaiah 40:1-11
- Pray together: God, we know advent should be a chance to slow down and reflect, but we confess that we get distracted. We pray that you will lift us up where we feel in valleys. And we even confess where we trust in ourselves. Forgive us our debts, as we have also forgiven our debtors. We pray in the name of our Shepherd and King, Jesus.
- Talk together: What was the most surprising gift you’ve ever received?
- Family activity idea: Listen to one of history’s most famous settings of Isaiah 40:4: Handel’s Messiah, Part 1, Number 3. “Every Valley Shall Be Exalted.” How does Handel musically express the meaning of the verse?