Advent is a time for hope!
The Hebrew Scriptures present God’s promise to send a Messiah to rule and deliver the people of God (Jer. 33:14-16; 23:5). There is the promise: a “young woman [traditionally: “virgin”] is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel,” which means “God is with us” (Isa. 7:14). Israel lived by hope of a coming Messiah!
The Puritan Presbyterian, Thomas Watson (c. 1620-1686), said, “The great Promise of the Messiah is in the Old Testament, A Virgin shall conceive and bear a Son,” as “foretold by the prophet.”[i] Jesus Christ is the “promised Messiah.”[ii] When Christ was born “all the Prophesies of the coming of the Messiah were accomplished.”[iii]
In Jesus Christ, we can now believe God’s promises of a Messiah are fulfilled! In Christ, we have the hope God has promised. Watson said, “Faith is the Mother of Hope; first we believe the Promise, then we hope for it: Faith is the Oyl [oil] which feeds the Lamp of Hope.”[iv] Watson believed “faith anticipates future things, and makes them present.”[v] In Jesus Christ, our future hope is present—in who Jesus is and what Jesus has done!
Watson said that “hope is like the cork to the net, it keeps the soul from sinking in despair.”[vi] We have an “anchor of hope” (Heb. 6:19) which is, said Watson, “cast upon God’s promise”—the hope of eternal life (Titus 1:2).[vii]
Today, we have Advent hope! Christ is with us. No matter how dark our days or how apparently hopeless our situations may be, our hope is in Jesus Christ who is with us. This Advent, we can “rejoice in hope”! (Romans 12:12).
Donald K. McKim
Dr. Donald K. McKim currently lives in Germantown, TN and is an Honorably Retired minister of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Some of his publications include: (with Jim West), Heinrich Bullinger: An Introduction to His Life and Theology (Wipf & Stock, 2022); Everyday Prayer with the Puritans (P&R, 2021); Everyday Prayer with the Reformers (P&R, 2020); Living into Lent, new edition (Westminster John Knox Press, 2020); Everyday Prayer with John Calvin (P&R, 2019). Several of his other articles can also be found at The Presbyterian Outlook https://pres-outlook.org/
[i] Thomas Watson, A Body of Practical Divinity (London, 1692), 16, 14.
[ii] Watson, Practical Divinity, 94.
[iii] Watson, Practical Divinity, 112.
[iv] Thomas Watson, The Godly Man’s Picture Drawn with a Scripture-Pencil (London, 1666), 29.
[v] Thomas Watson, A Plea for the Godly (London, 1672), 30.
[vi] Thomas Watson, The One Thing Necessary, 2nd. ed. (London, 1658), 67.