And now it's over. Taylor and I packed up our presents and brought them upstairs. In a couple of days I'll pack up my suitcase and go home. When I get back to Bethel, I'll pack up my Christmas decorations and put them away. And this sweetness, this waiting for Jesus to come, it seems I'll have to pack it up as well.
But the beauty of Advent is that it not only celebrates Christ's coming to us in a manger, but anticipates His coming to us in undeniable glory. That anticipation, that waiting, does not have to be packed up with the Christmas ornaments. And when the Day finally arrives, it will not pale in comparison to my anxious waiting for it, as Christmas sometimes does.
What I have loved this Advent is learning to relate to God as the One Who Comes. It wasn't just in that Bethlehem stall that God revealed Himself as Immanuel--no!--He has been Immanuel for all of eternity past. He is the God who is present with His people.
In fact, it's the pillar of cloud, again, that reminds us of God's ever-present-ness with the Israelites. It was the cloud by day and the fire by night, the Shekinah, Hebrew for "dwelling," that reminded God's people of His care for them and directed them where they should go (Numbers 9). God came to Moses in the burning bush. He spoke to Abraham. He walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden. He said to Joshua, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." God with us. Not just beginning with Jesus, but from the beginning of creation.
In Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus, John MacArthur writes, "You see, God only whispers in His creation. He revealed a shadow of His glory in the Shekinah. But He speaks with absolute clarity in His Word. 'God...spoke' (Hebrews 1:1), and not in a whisper, but in full voice. Still, there was an incompleteness in it all until, '[God] has in these last days spoken to us by His Son" (Hebrews 1:2).
"Now that is God shouting. You can't mistake it. Christ is God, and you see every attribute of God manifest in him. His judgment, his justice, his love, his wisdom, his power, his omniscience. It's all there in person as we see Him walk through the world, working his work, living his life. The fullness of God may be seen as it was never seen before in Jesus Christ."
"Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
he will come to save you" (Psalm 35:4).