The Two Advents of Jesus

By Not Known

Today is the first Sunday of Advent. ‘Advent‘ is an old word that means ‘coming‘. In Christian use, it refers to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ

The coming of Jesus has two time frames. The first is his past coming. As John records it: ‘The Word became flesh and tabernacled amongst us’ (Jn 1: 14a). The second is his future coming. As Paul puts it: ‘…the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command…so we will be with the Lord forever.‘ (1Th 4: 16- 17). Our present lives are bracketed between these two comings of the Lord and should be lived within the reality of what God has done and will do in them.

Advent links with our present sermons and Bible studies from Genesis 1 and 2. This can be explained by the word ‘tabernacled‘ in John 1: 14

To ‘tabernacle' is to live in a tent. Old Israel had a tent that they called the tabernacle and were they met with God. This tent was the forerunner to Solomon's temple. In this tent, Israel met with God in a mediated form – after much preparatory ritual and only through the priestly intercessions and only behind the various visual and physical barriers specified in the law. In short, Israel could not meet directly with God, see him, or be in his presence.

The remarkable teaching of John is that the first advent of Jesus broke down all these barriers. God lived directly among us in the person of his Son Jesus. When people looked at Jesus on the streets of Galilee and Judea they saw God’s glory with open eyes (Jn 1: 14)

This tabernacling of God with us in Christ is an echo of Eden and a foretaste of heaven. Before sin, people were able to live in the same 'place' as God and even go with him for a cool evening stroll in the garden (Gen 3: 8). Sin brought a sense of shame and resulted in our expulsion from the garden – we were no longer fit to be with God in his tent (Ps 15: 1- 5). That's why Israel's tabernacle had its barriers and its priests.

The effect of Jesus’ tabernacling with us is seen in the description of heaven as being like a new Eden, complete with a perfect garden (Rev. 21- 22). There will be on need for a temple to hide the glory of God (Rev 21: 22) for we will be able to live directly with God, just as in the first garden. Our present tent will be replaced with a permanent home of heaven (2 Cor 5: 2) In this sense, Jesus’ first advent foreshadows and prepares us for the advent that is to come.