My Musings – “Nobody knows what anticipation is anymore. Everything is so immediate.” (Joan Jett). Anticipation is not something we do well in this age of instant gratification. But perhaps we never have.
Generations came and went. And still the Jews waited for their promised Messiah. As Matthew points out “there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ.” (Matthew 1:17, NIV 1984). Forty-two generations from the time the promise was first given, until its ultimate fulfillment.
An aged nomadic couple with no prospects for children. Perhaps Abraham and Sarah had once anticipated the prospect of children, but that hope had withered into old age. Yet the one who made the promise, was faithful. The childless couple, would grow into a dynasty that would later fall into exile and occupation.
Throughout the years of waiting, the Jewish people’s anticipation of a promised Messiah had become so feverish that when it came to pass many missed it. Jesus did not fit the image that the anticipation had created in their mind. An obscure birth under apparent scandalous circumstances . A carpenter by trade, turned itinerant preacher. Neither a warrior or politician. Humble and gentle. Riding on the donkey, not a white charger. At the point they would have expected Him to seize power, He was arrested, humiliated, deserted by His followers and put to death. What was worse, death on a cross! “Anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse.” (Deuteronomy 21:23, NIV 1984). Built up by anticipation, they were left disappointed. Let down because what they had waited for so long was not what they expected. “[They] had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” (Luke 24:21, NIV 1984).
But not let down by the one who made the promise. They failed to realize that He did redeem Israel (and many others), just not in the way they expected. For “He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5, NIV 1984). Deceived by their own anticipation, many then and since have missed out on this redemption because it does not fit their expectations.
My Advice – Today, we live with another anticipation. The anticipation of His return. Generations have come, and generations have gone, and He has yet to return. Has it been forty-two more generations? It was nearly two thousand years from the promise to Abraham and Sarah and the fulfillment in Bethlehem to Joseph and Mary. It’s been another two thousand years since His promise that He would “come again.” Do not let the delay cause your anticipation to give way to skepticism. Do not join with the scoffers who mockingly ask “where is this ‘coming’ He promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:4, NIV 1984). Keep anticipating. Because while it may seem like it, “the Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9, NIV 1984). Many missed the first coming, make sure you are ready for the second. You won’t be disappointed. The actual event will far exceed the anticipation. The “download” may take a bit more time, but it won’t be cancelled. So, keep looking up in anticipation. Keep “chasin’ after some finer day.” (from the song “Anticipation” by Carly Simon).
Today’s musing was inspired by Pastor Kevin Rutledge’s sermon on December 8, 2019. Check it out at https://www.fbcsycamore.com/sermons. If you live in or are visiting the area, come and join us Sundays at 10:30 a.m. We’d love to be partners in the Gospel with you.