This is the first blog in a four-part advent series. Check back next week for the second blog in this series.
“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. … Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.” -Psalm 130:5, 7
Children notoriously are impatient around Christmastime. They anxiously squirm in the days leading up to December 25 and repeatedly ask their parents how many days are left. They eagerly anticipate the gifts they’ll receive that morning and struggle to sleep on Christmas Eve.
For ancient Israel, the anxious waiting was even greater. The history of God’s people was full of enslavement, exile, war, and sorrow—much brought on by the nation’s own sin. Redemption may have seemed out of reach for the Israelites, but time and again God would speak through His prophets to tell of a hope on the horizon. A Savior was coming.
“In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious.” -Isaiah 11:10
“‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.’” -Jeremiah 23:5
“‘But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.’” -Micah 5:2
Yet this promised Messiah had not come. For about 400 years between the Old Testament and the New Testament Gospels, the nation of Israel waited in silence—waited for the first Christmas.
Waiting can come with frustration—frustration with an unmet desire, frustration with a delayed promise. This frustration, if unaddressed, can lead to depression, despair, and hopelessness.
But waiting with hope in the Lord builds a faith strong enough to endure the frustrations of a delayed promise. One man who modeled this kind of waiting was David.
David was likely a teenager when Samuel met him and anointed him king of Israel. From a young age, David knew who God created him to be. Yet David didn’t immediately take the throne. The Bible says David was 30 when he finally began his reign over Israel (2 Samuel 5:4).
This was a long time to wait to become king. But David set an example for how to hopefully wait on God. He trusted the Lord would eventually give him the throne, even as David spent years running for his life. David recorded his faith in God in many of the psalms he wrote.
“‘And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.’” -Psalm 39:7, ESV
David’s faith while he waited on God not only led him to the throne, but it resulted in a promise from God that one of David’s descendants would reign forever—the root of Jesse (Isaiah 11:10), David’s righteous branch (Jeremiah 23:5), a descendant who would be the Son of God (2 Samuel 7:11-16).
It would be easy for Israelites to lose all hope in the Lord after centuries of waiting for the promised Messiah. But Israel is reminded continually— through David’s psalms and prophets—to approach waiting with hope.
Waiting on the Lord is a hope-filled expectation of God’s promises. It requires faith and trust that the Lord will accomplish what He said He would. Those who wait with faith will be strengthened (Isaiah 40:31).
Even now, believers are waiting on the Lord. More than 2,000 years after the Messiah first arrived, He has not returned. But Christ followers wait with hope knowing He will return again.