Today, I am so proud and honored to have my son, Daniel, sharing his Advent thoughts in this space. He is a graduate student in Biblical Studies as well as an almost to be husband, as he gets married this December 27th. You can find him blogging at The Harbor, in between his many other commitments.
I’m not sure what kind of church you attend or if you attend one, but the church I grew up in celebrated this season of Advent with bell choirs, famous Christmas songs, and four candles to mark each week of the season (all of these are great, by the way). However, growing up, I knew what to expect and when it came to the story of Jesus being born, I felt like a know-it-all since we heard the same story each year. There’s nothing wrong with hearing a great story over and over again. If I had it my way, I would read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit every few months. Yet something was missing in my “knowing everything” about this story of Jesus. Until recently, I hadn’t realized that the story of Israel’s promised Messiah arrived on the scene as quite a shock to those who lived in that time. It was shocking to see Israel’s “Anointed One” born in a feeding trough. It was shocking to discover that the Christ was born in a small and seemingly insignificant town. It was shocking to actually claim that God was finally acting by sending the Messiah in a time of oppression and apparent exile for his people. This is the climate of Judea in the beginning of the first century, and this is the time and space into which Jesus, our Lord, was born.
One of the best practices for reading Scripture is to recall the narrative being told and to even attempt to place ourselves into this people’s first century context. When we do this, we gain an even better appreciation for who God was and who God is. With the story of the birth of Jesus, we definitely ought to do the same thing. Maybe, for example, we can envision ourselves as one of the shepherds who visited Jesus. If we don’t do this, we admit that it’s far easier to place ourselves at a distance from this story and to merely recall it as a “nice” story to share once a year and leave it at that. However, the idea I hope to share here is that we gain so much more by looking into the first century world of Jesus and to see this story afresh.
Jesus was born into a world of chaos and exile. Nearly four centuries earlier, Israel had continuously rebelled against God and they were sent into exile and the original Temple built as a house for the Lord was destroyed. Eventually, God allowed his people to return from exile and to even rebuild the Temple. The problem was, some of the older Levites and priests had seen the original Temple before it was destroyed, and they realized the rebuilt version was not quite the same.
“But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first house wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid” (Ezra 3:12).
The idea we get here is that though the Temple was rebuilt, there was still a sense of exile in which God’s people lived. Many years passed, and the people were waiting on a king, the Messiah, to arrive and restore the fortunes of Israel. Nations like Greece and eventually Rome took control of Israel and ruled over them. If Israel was supposed to be God’s chosen nation to bring salvation to the world, it certainly seemed like the opposite was happening. Groups of people rose up and would-be messiahs attempted to overthrow the Roman authorities. None of these “heroic” acts seemed to work. Rome was still in charge, so where was God in all of this? When was God’s Messiah going to show up and set everything right? When would the one from the line of David, from the line of Abraham, arrive to restore the fortunes of the people of God?
[Tweet “This Advent let’s consider a story of chaos, exile, fulfillment & redemption. #Advent”]
In the middle of this chaos and exile, there was a night in a small and seemingly insignificant town where the history of the world changed. The unexpected happened. The Messiah was born into a lowly setting. God did act by sending his beloved Son to bring redemption to the created order. Into this world of rebellion, of exile, and of waiting, appeared the Savior of the world, the world’s rightful Lord.
“And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord’” (Luke 2:10-11).
This Advent season, let us consider a surprising narrative that tells a story of chaos, exile, fulfillment, and redemption. Let us consider this narrative, which is anything but mundane and that we are very much a part of, as we wait in expectation of our victorious Lord Jesus to set the world to rights once and for all.
Thank you all for blessing me today by being here and reading my son’s words. What would it be like to immerse ourselves in the narrative of the time preceding Jesus’ birth as well as what followed?
To catch up on all the posts in this Advent series, click on the button below.
Join my mailing list!
Subscribers receive updates, newsletters, and FREE resources! Your information is safe and will never be shared.
If you're not receiving emails from me, check your spam folder and mark my emails as "not spam."
Thank you everyone! It truly is an honor to share any words on this blog that has been a blessing to so many people. This is an excellent series and I’m very glad you all have been able to be a part of it. I’m really grateful that my mom gave me this opportunity to share a different perspective on this season that we are all currently celebrating! I pray you all have a wonderful Christmas and continue following the Lord Jesus as we await his everlasting kingdom.
I love the idea of putting ourselves in these incredibly important stories of so long ago, Daniel. What a powerful way to study the Bible! Thank you for sharing this wonderful tip and the rest of your beautiful words here. Many prayers for your special day this week and the many years to come for you and your precious wife.
I’ll, of course, be praying for your Mommy too, who I love dearly. I know there will be some major tears dropping this week, my dear Mary. If you need me, just call ;)…
No words for how you bless me just by being here! Thank you for the encouraging words for my son and for being such a good friend to me. Yes, there will be tears and there may have been a few already, but there will be so much happiness as we get to witness the beginning of the story of Daniel and Kayla.
I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas. May you feel the love and peace of Jesus, which is truly the greatest gift we have ever received. Love you!
My, but aren’t you all going to have a busy week! Prayers for a JOYous celebrations, both for your son on his wedding day, and Christmas day. What an extra-special one this shall be! Thank you for sharing your son and his wonderful insights with us, dear Mary. Blessings on your Christmas.
I cherish your prayers for the upcoming wedding and am blessed as always by your sweet words of encouragement. Thank you for faithfully joining me for my Advent series. God is so good to help me write about story and how our stories are connected with His. Praying you have a beautiful Christmas. Blessings!
When I read of your son’s wedding I was so happy for you…your celebration would be continuous and joyous…
I celebrate with you, Mary.
Hugs and loads of Blessings to you
Thank you for the beautiful wishes and blessings for my son’s wedding. It is an exciting celebration for our family this Christmas season. Hugs to you too!
You should be a proud momma! Daniel, nice to meet you and beautiful words. Blessings on your marriage!
I am a very proud momma! Thank you for stopping by and leaving your sweet encouragement. Blessings friend!
Oh I love this! Thanks Daniel for reminding us that we need to make the Word personal… to put ourselves there in context and culture. The Christmas story is one we have all heard several times and we can tend to take on that ‘know-it-all’ attitude even unaware! I am new to Advent and am loving the power of tapping into the long wait… and the reality that He came, He is here, and yet we wait still! Merry Christmas!
Thank you for these kind words of encouragement. I know I was blessed to step out of my “know it all” thinking by immersing myself in a story that is one I find out I don’t know as well as I think I do. The slowing down, preparing, longing and waiting are the best things I can do during Advent. Praying that this season of Advent has been one of amazing learning for you as you immerse yourself in the story. Blessings!
I always love studying the Bible in the historical context–all to often I think we imagine Mary and Joseph bopping along serenely on a donkey and arriving at a crowded town and having to sleep in the stable. I doubt if there was a lot of peace, not to mention safe, easy travels! Thank you for reminding me of the turmoil. You’ve picked a great day to get married (my parents got married on Dec. 27 😉 ). May God bless you and your bride and may you have a splendiferous day of celebration (not to mention a long and happy life together 🙂 ).
Thank you for your sweet well wishes! I am sure the wedding will be splendiferous (Daniel got a kick out of that). I figured you would be one who would love history. I love putting myself into the historical context that was present then because it gives me a whole new perspective. I pray you and your family have a wonderful Christmas. Hugs friend!
Thank you for this insight and making the Messiah’s birth even more meaningful, Daniel. I had sometimes thought of how they must have felt in such darkness as they waited and longed for the Messiah to come. I think it would have been so easy to fall into despair. But I never thought how they still felt as if they were in exile. That would make their situation even more desolate. Congratulations on your marriage! May God bless you and your wife with His presence! Congratulations to you, too, Mary! 🙂 I hope you all have a joy-filled Christmas and wedding.
Thank you Trudy! The beauty with this story is that the darkness was overcome by the light of the birth of Jesus. It’s nice to know the context to understand how the darkness and exile were overcome. Thank you for your well wishes. We are excited for all the new next steps that are happening in our family.
And why am I not surprised that your son is so deep, insightful, wise, godly?
He’s his mama’s child, for sure …
Thank you so much Linda! Actually he started blogging long before me and his writing as well as my other son’s inspired me to do the same. Hope you are having a wonderful week my friend!
Great post! You should be a proud mama!
I am very proud. I love my son’s biblical knowledge. He’s a great “go to” person when I have a question. Hope your weekend is blessed.
This is beautiful. When I think about “putting myself in context,” I first think of Mary in the stable … Smelly, you know. But I hadn’t thought about the political/religious climate … Not the idea of feeling like they were still in exile. It brings a stronger sense of urgency to the Messiah’s coming.
I love how a deeper understanding of the context of the story can change our perspective. It is a beautiful thing to know that God’s timing is always perfect and more intricate than we realize. Thank you for being here, Dianne and joining in on the conversation. Blessings!
When we make it “personal” the story becomes alive and real and that is when soul-ministry takes place. It is deeply profound to meditate between the lines, as I believe Daniel does! Happy wedding to all of you!
I am captivated by story and more so by God’s story. I love how Daniel immersed us today by giving us the perspective of the current climate of the world when Jesus was born. Any good story develops the background while at the same time promoting the story line. Knowing and understanding the history and climate are fascinating to me. Daniel is good at reflecting between the lines. That’s why he is a Biblical Studies grad student. Thank you for being here and for you kind wishes.
Welcome to this corner of the blogosphere!! Enjoyed reading your post and putting myself into the story. We may not be shepherds, but we live in exile on this planet. So thankful for God’s grace and redemption that is always making all things new. Best wishes on your upcoming wedding…make sure your mom has tissues 🙂
I will need lots of tissues!!! Don’t you just love how immersing ourselves in the story, we gain a better understanding and in the process our perspective of the times broadens? I am thanking God with you today that grace and redemption are part of our stories as children of Christ. Blessings and hugs, friend!