Advent Still

That noise made when you attempt to hold in your loud cry, deep, and stuck in the pit of your stomach, is not one that I care to hear too often, if ever. Yet, that noise followed by fat tears were ones I heard and felt that afternoon, only to hear them on the phone later on from a friend in a completely different, yet still so painful, situation and life. It’s as if this was what Paul talked of in Romans 8:26, those groanings too deep for words. I tried to figure out how to say it in a more beautiful and inspiring way, but the truth remains plain: life is hard, and we are all fellow sufferers.

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel. And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. And he shall be their peace.
— Micah 5:2-5a

From the post from last week on Micah 4, and the ones prior to those here and here, I have to reiterate: these promises, this hope, was something that seemed wildly impossible with the state of what they lived in and were seeing in that moment. Bruce Waltke and other scholars in the book of Micah go as far as to say that this could be something Micah is proclaiming to a tiny little remnant while Sennacherib of Assyria is laying siege against Jerusalem. Yet, these promises, this hope of the Messiah, one who would come and right all wrongs, who would be their ultimate ruler and King that brought true shalom to their lives, was something Micah called them to imagine. It’s out of this that we get a picture of salvation.

Come, Lord Jesus, come.

Once again, the community is thrown back in faith on I AM, who rules history and its times according to his own counsel. With him in whose hands are the times of all people, a thousand years is as a day, and before the remnant gave birth to the Messiah, it had to first endure seven centuries under the continued sway of Assyria, and then of Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome respectively. In this way the remnant are kept vigilant as they await the imminent advent of the Messiah. As God in the fullness of time rewarded the childlike faith of people like Joseph and Mary, and Simeon and Anna, so also he will reward the faith of his elect today who await his imminent second advent.
— Bruce Waltke

We cry out in hurt because we know within our bodies that this is not the way it was supposed to be. Lament is as much a cry of faith as these verses here, holding both in tension as we wail and rejoice in perpetual advent. We live knowing that the Messiah has come and is coming, a conundrum of sorts that defines who we are as Christ followers, the tension of the pilgrim who makes her home. This hope that we imagine and see not fully, with glimmers here and there of God’s Kingdom already at work, with brokenness around us still that we are begging to be fixed, this hope is very bold and worth staking our lives on.

Although the season of advent awaits for us yet this year, we live in it still, following after the footsteps of our ancestors here in Micah, this great cloud of witnesses. Let us hold fast, let us be faithful, let us have paradoxical imaginations that push us not only to ache for His second coming, but to put our hands to the plow. The weak will be made strong. He is our peace.

Come, Lord Jesus, come.