Today is the First Sunday in Advent. Advent means “coming,” and during this season we focus on the good news of God’s coming. God has come to us in Jesus, and He will come at the end to judge the world in righteousness. But when we speak of God’s coming, it’s important that we do not imagine that God is far away. God is not far away. God is Emmanuel: God is with us. So how do we mean that God must still come?
One of the ways the Bible explains this is with the word revelation. If you throw a surprise party for a friend, you may allow your friend to think that you have forgotten their birthday, and when they come home to the dark and quiet house, they do not notice the people hiding behind pieces of furniture or in the curtains or in the shadows, but at the right moment, the lights go on and friends jump out of the shadows and shout surprise. This is a dramatic revelation that the room was not empty afterall, the birthday was not forgotten in the slightest, and what appeared dark and empty was only a momentary covering over reality.
This Advent, I want us to think on this theme of the Coming of God as the revelation of God, the revelation of His presence, the revelation of His glory, the uncovering of what has been true all along. The sermon text this morning is all about this theme, and we will continue looking for it in the coming weeks. This is an enormously important doctrine because it is why we walk by faith. Our lives are lived in between the Advents of Jesus, His first coming and His second coming. We live in the time when the Sun has begun to rise, but it is not yet fully light. And so we still see the shadows of sin and death. But as disciples of Jesus, as His bride the Church, we have been brought into a wonderful secret, a surprise that awaits the whole world. And that surprise is that hiding in the shadows is glory, hiding undercover are shouts of joy.