Advent Week 1: The Beloved Anointed of God
A Reading for the First Sunday of Advent
The story of God’s people, Israel, in the Bible feels like a story of people constantly looking for something. When Abraham and Sarah follow God’s call, they end up looking for a child of promise until Isaac is born. When Joseph is sold off into captivity by his brothers, he is looking for freedom, forgiveness, and a new beginning. When the people end up enslaved in Egypt, they call out to God, looking for deliverance.
Eventually, God’s people begin to look for a sort of leader who will come forth chosen by God. God raises up the judges one after another to fill this role, but the people want something more dependable. They ask for a king, like the nations around them. First it is Saul, then David, and eventually a succession of kings, some who are good and others who are bad. All the while, there is a deep searching for the kind of king truly set apart by God.
There is a word for that sort of king: the anointed one or, in Hebrew, messiah. When a leader was anointed, oil was poured upon their head as an outward symbol of God’s Spirit being poured upon them for the role of leadership. All through Scripture we hear the longing for an anointed one to come and make things right, both internally for God’s people and in relation to the peoples surrounding them.
Psalm 2 is a prayer song of that latter kind, calling out for God and His anointed to set things right with the nations raging around them. The anointed one is described as the son of the Most High, one whom the nations should kiss as a sign of their service to that kingly figure.
The early believers in Jerusalem later quote this psalm when they are being persecuted by religious and political authorities in Acts 4. It becomes a point of reference for them as they pray that God would enable them to step forward boldly to witness to Jesus, the true Messiah.
When we read Psalm 2 with Jesus in mind, suddenly some phrases take on new meaning. Verses 11 and 12 read: “Serve the Lord with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling. Kiss his son.”Once these words may have sounded like a demand from the writer, but now, through Christ, they sound like an invitation to devoted worship. It is probably no mistake that the most common word for worship in the New Testament (proskyneō / προσκυνέω) literally means to “kiss toward” someone as a sign of reverent adoration.
This Advent, may the words of Psalm 2 help us sing the song of the beloved anointed one of God, Jesus the Messiah, who is worthy of our love and worship.
REFLECTION QUESTIONS FOR THE FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT:
- When you think back on Christmases past, what have been things you’ve sought throughout the season that determine whether it was a “successful” season for you or your family?
- Knowing that Christ is the anointed one, the promised Messiah of God, what are the ways you will keep Him as the object of your focus/worship this Christmas?
Family Talk Week 1
INTENDED FOR FAMILIES WITH YOUNG CHILDREN
There’s a playground game called “Captain, May I?”. Maybe you’ve played it before? The “Captain” stands on one end of the play area while everyone else lines up at the opposite end. The Captain calls out a player and gives directions: Take five hops forward, or Spin in place three times.” The player called on must first ask: “Captain, may I?”. If a player forgets to ask, they are sent back to the starting line!
Of course, everyone wants to be the captain! It’s fun to be the one in charge, telling some players to go and others to stop, and really fun to send some all the way back to the start! This is what some people think it’s like to be king—telling everyone else what to do. The king is IN CHARGE!
But, who is in charge of the king?
This is what happened to God’s people. God wanted to be their king, but His people wanted to be like all the other nations—they wanted a person to be king. So, God allowed this. Sometimes, these kings were good, but sometimes they were bad—really bad.
Then, God sang a Savior Song! We hear it in Psalm 2: “I have placed my king on my holy mountain of Zion” (verse 6). God would set apart a special king, his own Son, Jesus, to be a king over all other kings!
This is what we celebrate throughout the season of Advent—the coming of God’s Son Jesus as the chosen, anointed king who would make everything right again. That’s why later in Psalm 2 God says:
Kings, be wise!
Rulers of the earth, be warned!
Serve the LORD and have respect for him.
Celebrate his rule with trembling. (verses 10-11, NIrV)
As God’s people today, we can be happy knowing that Jesus is charge! And we can worship Him as the king over all other leaders on earth.