Yakhal / Hope
Advent Series
It can be difficult to feel hopeful. But biblical hope means trusting in God's character and choosing hope despite our circumstances.

Questions for Personal Reflection or Group Discussion:

  1. Read Genesis 8:6-12 (note the mention of 40 days of waiting). After the earth suffers long under humanity’s violence, God resolves to wash away corruption while preserving Noah and his family. The rain pours down, and for months Noah sways back and forth in an ark. He needs to yakhal (wait) in the middle of animal waste and landless seas. So what assurance is Noah waiting to receive? And how does the dove deliver that assurance?
  2. Read Psalm 130 aloud together. The psalmist is sure that if God preserved a record of sin, everyone would be washed out—it’s a scary thought. What specific things about God bring the psalmist relief? What does he yakhal (wait) to receive from God?
  3. Keep Psalm 130 in mind. What do you think the psalmist would do if he did not wait on God for healing and forgiveness? How do you think despair might lead to violence and corruption? Consider how the process of forgiveness removes corruption while preserving life. How is this similar and different from the flood and Noah’s long wait on the ark?
  4. Read Luke 2:22-33 and pay special attention to details about the setting. Then, check out Leviticus 12:1-8 and note the mention of 40 days of waiting (33+7). Why do Mary, Joseph, Jesus, and Simeon go to the temple that day? What is Simeon waiting on God to do for Israel?
  5. Let’s examine a few key verses, starting with Luke 3:15-16. Who does John the Baptist say the people have been waiting for? Now, read Luke 3:21-22 and compare the message that accompanied the Spirit (appearing as a dove) with the message of Noah’s dove. What similarities and differences do you notice?
  6. How does the arrival of Jesus bring relief and assurance? Take time to discuss this and any other themes, questions, or key takeaways from what you learned together.

A Time of Hopeful Anticipation

For centuries, Christians around the world have used the four weeks leading up to Christmas to prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. It’s a time when we observe his first coming while also looking forward to his second coming. In the four weeks of Advent, we meditate on hope, peace, joy, and love.

The Prince of Peace Arrives

The Hebrew Bible ends with God’s people still waiting expectantly for the ultimate king—the anointed one who would bring peace to the world. In the book of Isaiah, we read this prophecy about the long-awaited Messiah: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulders. And his name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

When Jesus was born, angels announced his arrival on Earth by declaring, "I bring you good tidings of great joy, which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a savior, who is Christ the Lord."

And Still We Wait

Jesus’ arrival activated the promises of God and the prophecies of the Hebrew Bible. The Gospel accounts declare Jesus to be God in human form, his son who came to earth to reconcile God’s people back to their covenant partnership with God. During Advent, we join in a centuries-long tradition and we wait. Just like God’s people eagerly awaited the arrival of the Messiah, we remember their hope and we still look forward to Jesus’ final return when he will reunite Heaven and Earth in the new creation. He is the ultimate King, who embodies God’s peace, joy, hope, and love and came to earth so that we might be united with God again.

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