“The son of man coming in a cloud”
Jeremiah 33:14-16, Luke 21: 25-33
Today is the first Sunday of Advent. We usually think of Advent as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas, and we tend to stop there. But do we know that Advent refers to the Second coming of Christ? Advent means “coming” in Latin, but it is the translation of the Greek word referring to the Second coming of Christ. In this respect, for us Christians, the Advent is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the three comings of Christ: “Christ coming in the flesh in Bethlehem, Christ coming in our hearts daily, and Christ coming in glory at the end of time.” The advent season “offers the opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah, and to be alert for his Second Coming”, having Christ in our hearts daily every moment. In this light, the Advent season is not just in December, but all year round, every day in our lives. It is a time of preparation in repentance and anticipation. It is a time of ushering Christ in our hearts daily. The first two Advent candles and the fourth candle, blue or purple candles mean “penance and preparation”, pink means “joy” (overjoy), and white candle means “love” Christ himself.
Without “penance”, without “preparation” of our hearts in purity and holiness, we cannot have “joy” and “love”. Christ will not be lighted in our hearts without preparation. Advent does not just happen. We have to prepare for the coming of Christ.
With that said, let us turn to our texts which are from the lectionary reading for today. First, Jeremiah 33: 14-16 is one of many prophecies in the Old Testament regarding Christ coming in flesh to save us the sinners. If we look at verse 15, we notice the words “justice” and “righteousness”, –“He shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.” We have to look at these words, “justice” and “righteousness” in order to understand what it means to “execute justice and righteousness in the land”. I will paraphrase what it says about justice and righteousness in the Easton Bible dictionary: God is perfect, and God is righteous in and of Himself and in all He does. This perfect and righteous God imposes righteous laws on people who are created in God’s perfect image. God requires all human beings to keep the laws of God in all respects, toward God, and toward fellow human beings. And it is God’s justice to inflict punishment on those who fail to keep the law of God. This is the unchangeable, un-compromised law of God, –requiring all humans to keep the righteous laws of God, and exacting justice of punishing them if failed. God is pure, holy and righteous, God cannot stand sins; God hates sin. Sin disconnects those who failed from God, which means “death” since apart from God there is no life. Only God and in God, there is life. Death is the punishment for sins.
I mentioned that God will inflict punishment on those who fail, but I would like to question ourselves, ‘Is there anyone who did not fail?’ Everyone failed. Psalms 14: 2-3, “The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of humans, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.” All humans failed, giving in temptations of Satan. Those of us who think that ‘I am a good person, relatively speaking, maybe saying, ‘I am good’ in my mind in comparison with the worst kind of sinners out in the world. But the more we know of God, the more we realize how sinful we are. We realize there is no such thing as the worst kind of sinner as we all are sinners. That is what Apostle Paul realized in Romans 7: 15-19, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For, I know that the good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For, I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.”
Do we hear what Apostle Paul is saying here? No matter how he tried, he could not do the things he should be doing, the good things as the law teaches. He only kept on doing the things he hated to do. Why? Because sin was living in him, which made him a sinner. No matter who we are, that is what we are: sinners. Apostle Paul who was the saint of all in the Christian world keenly aware of who he was apart from God’s righteousness.
When we come to the holiness of God, that is when we realize, –how sinful we are, as Apostle Paul did. Only in the light of God’s holiness, every little single sin we become conscious of, from being greedy and selfish towards God and toward fellow human beings, from not giving a tithe to ignoring people in need, from not loving God to hating our fellow human beings in the heart. We have all turned away from God, being disconnected from God, as the Psalmist said, “There is no one who does good, not even one.”
And God saw there was no intercessor for this pitiful fallen humanity who are doomed to destruction and thought it strange. Isaiah 59:16, “And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his own arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him.” Because God so loves the world, he made His own Son as our Intercessor. God gave his own begotten son to us so that whosoever believes in him will have eternal life from death.
That is what it means that “He will execute justice and righteousness in the land.” Someone had to pay for the death penalty on our behalf in order for the fallen humanity to be restored to God. That, someone, had to be sinless to meet God’s absolute standard. That was the Christ Jesus God incarnate, our Intercessor. He paid for our sins by dying on the cross in our stead. He paid our death penalty by dying for us. He bought us back to God with his own death. We become righteous only through the blood of Jesus Christ by believing that he died for our own sins. Jesus Christ executed justice onto his own life and brought salvation for us, by which righteousness of God is restored in us. That was what Pastor Tom was saying! We do not go to heaven because we are good. We go to heaven because of Christ’s death for us. Christ, the Messiah had come in Bethlehem in the person of Jesus. So many prophesy regarding the Messiah in the Old Testament had been fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. But the question is whether Jesus has come into our hearts. Have we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior and decided to follow Jesus no matter what the world says? We hear carols in the malls, in the stores, we sometimes sing along while we shop for Christmas gifts, “Joy to the world, the Lord has come…” Indeed, the Lord has come for the fallen humanity two thousand years ago, but has Christ come into our hearts as we accepted him as our king? Do we treat Jesus as our king putting ourselves under his authority obeying his commands? That is what it means to accept him as our Lord and Savior, –putting ourselves under his authority obeying his commands with the help of the Holy Spirit. If any of us who have not yet accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior, but would like to do that, please pray in your own private space, “Lord Jesus, I am a sinner, forgive all my sins. I would like to accept you as my Lord and Savior, please, come into my heart and stay with me until the end, In Jesus name, Amen.”
Our New Testament lesson Luke chapter 21 is about Second Coming of Christ. In this Advent season, I would like to ask how many of us are really anticipating and preparing ourselves in repentance for the Second Coming of Christ? Or do we even believe that there will be Second Coming of Christ? Do we know that prophecies in the Bible have been fulfilled everything except the things regarding the Second Coming of Christ and the end-time prophecies? Some of the end time signs are being fulfilled in our days. The full restoration of Israel as a nation is a definite sign of end time, and we see that it is being fulfilled. Jerusalem is not yet fully restored to Israel, but it will, according to the Bible. From the four corners of the world, Jewish people are to come back to their own land, and it is prophesied in the Bible. If we read Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah and many of the books in the Old Testament, we see that the end time signs are being fulfilled in our time. Do you know that Jewish people are coming back to their own land even as we speak? 43% of the whole Jewish population in the world now living in Israel, and they are coming back to Israel. I am very excited about seeing God’s prophecies being fulfilled regarding Israel. My heart becomes overwhelmed with joy and it brings me to tears when I see that God fulfills God’s promise he made to God’s own people 2500 or more years ago. I pray for Israel every day and the more I pray for Israel, the clearer I understand that the Second Coming of Christ is near. The question is, are we prepared for the coming of Christ who will come this time as the Judge of the world. It is not time to mock, it is not time to doubt; it is time for us, the believers, to wake up and be ready. Are we being ready?