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Advent Longing

December 5, 2008

star-2 Sin leaves you in desolation spiritually. Broken in judgment before the Lord, his people long for restoration while shamefully resisting the repentance that leads there. The people in Jerusalem after the fall of the once great city to the Babylonian empire must have known the feeling. The city must have felt like a ghost town. A great number of the best and brightest gone, the city left to decay, the longing for what was lost.

Onto the scene steps the prophet Obadiah. The people are well aware of their sin. Prophets had come before who breathed God’s judgment on them for their wickedness and idolatry. At the time they laughed and ignored them, but their words haunt them as they struggle to provide for their families and continue some semblance of normal life under the rule of an alien king, not knowing if what they’ve lost is gone forever. They must have cringed when Obadiah stood, with authority and fire in his eyes, and cried out, “thus says the Lord!”

Fear and shame. It must have been the feeling Adam and Eve felt when God came looking for them in the garden. They scrambled to hide and cover themselves with leaves. If you’re human you know the feeling. The sick desire to hide from the eyes of God and the realization that there is nowhere to hide. Brokenness and shame as the consequences of sin become a reality and the separation from God deep in the soul becomes evident. But the story doesn’t end.

Obadiah declares judgement on Edom. On those who opress and torment Israel. There is hope and future in his voice. Hope of a restoration and a future of peace. There is the anticipation of forgiveness and salvation. The final verse speaks of a savior. A savior who will establish the kingdom of the Lord. It didn’t instantly make everything easy, it doesn’t work that way, but it must have given people peace to endure knowing that, though they’d failed Him, God had not turned His back on them. They must have labored in the dust of that once great city knowing that one day they would be restored.

As we anticipate the savior, we must anticipate the coming of the one who takes the mess of our rebellion and the consequences of our judgement and dresses us in white. The savior that would live a perfect life, offer himself freely on the cross for our sin, rise from the dead and ascend to the right hand of the father to intercede on our behalf was coming.

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