The Hope of Advent

The Hope of Advent

It seems as if every few years or so I have a different Christmas song that I deem “my all-time favorite.” Ten years ago it was Silent Night. Seven years ago it was Joy to the World. Over the past four years it has been O Come O Come Emmanuel (if you haven’t listened to the Josh Garrels version, stop reading this and listen to it). As of right now, I do not expect it to change any time soon (particularly to Santa Baby, which, in my humble opinion, is the expired eggnog of Christmas music).

The reason for my deep appreciation for this song is because, as a Bible nerd, I absolutely love how the tumultuous history of God’s people (Israel) is captured in the emotion of the lyrics. One can almost feel the angst of the people wondering “when is God going to make things right for us?”

In the story of the Old Testament, Israel held onto a hope that God will make things right for them. They, in the midst of their suffering as a people, clung to hope. And what was their hope? It is multifaceted, but to sum it up, we find in the writings of the OT prophet Isaiah “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). Immanuel means “God with us.” It’s not hard to imagine a people group, oppressed by stronger nations, clinging eagerly to the hope of “God with us.”

You see, the Old Testament story is that the Creator God created this world beautiful and good with humans bearing his divine image as the pinnacle of His divine creativity (Genesis 1-2), but evil entered the world through humans (Genesis 3). God could have done away with His creation, but instead began a mission to make things right in the world by choosing a family (Israel) to be the agents of which this making-things-right would take place (Genesis 12:1-3). But this family kept screwing up their part of this redemptive mission. So God (knowing this would be the case) promised that He would send His Anointed One (known as the Messiah) to come and make things right and restore peace. Now, if you read the OT Scriptures, you’ll notice that the story of God’s people Israel is a rollercoaster ride of seasons of blessing and seasons of being oppressed (it feels like the later happens more often). Even though times of being oppressed were usually the result of Israel turning away from God, still it is not hard to imagine your average Israelite during a time of captivity longing for the arrival of “Immanuel (God with us).”

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appears

Imagine being an oppressed people group, captive in a land that is not your own, longing with hopeful anticipation for the day when God arrives, fights your battles, and restores you to a place of blessing, peace, and joy.

The holiday season can be a time of great joy. However, for many, it is a season of deep pain. And maybe you are in a place of feeling lost, lonely, and forgotten (like Israel). Maybe you are in need of hope.

Whether you are in a season of great joy and peace, or a season of feeling lost, alone, and forgotten, may you walk through these days with hope in Immanuel (God with you). The invitation of Advent is to cling more tightly to hope in Jesus knowing that He is with you (Immanuel), he has not forgotten you, and there is a bright future with Jesus for the people of Jesus (Revelation 21:1-5).

Oh, come, our Dayspring from on high
And cheer us by thy drawing nigh
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!

So, where are you?

O Come O Come Emmanuel

In slavery in Egypt, in the hopeless of a bleak financial situation, in the endless wandering of the wilderness, crippling anxiety that seems to have no end in sight, in Babylon as an exile, in a marriage that seems to be hanging by a thread, in the seemingly endless silence of God, in a dead-end job and lack of career vision?

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!

May you, whatever your circumstances may be, rejoice in hope knowing that God is with you (Immanuel), and He is making all things new. The days of captivity do not have the last word.



Eating lots of food and looking at pictures of puppies are couple of ingredients to David's perfect day. The driving passion of David's life is walking alongside people as they figure out what it means to follow Jesus today. David holds a B.A. in Psychology from Vanguard University and an M.A. in Theology from Talbot School of Theology. He currently works at Mariners Church in Irvine on the High School Ministry team. David lives in Costa Mesa, CA, with his amazing wife Laura.