Dec. 1 – Throughout the gospels, Jesus sums up the Hebrew Scriptures a number of times as “the law and the prophets.” The Torah constitutes the Law – the first five books of the Bible, and the prophets constitute many of the remaining books (Isaiah, Jeremiah, the many minor prophets like Jonah and Hosea). There’s wisdom literature (Psalms, Job) and historical books too (1 & 2 Chronicles, 1 & 2 Kings), but the bulk of attention is on the law and the prophets.
During Advent we always focus on these two. John the Baptizer arrives in the true prophetic tradition, and this Sunday’s Luke passage 3:1-6 even has him quoting from Isaiah one of the most major of the major prophets. The prophets predict that God will enter into human experience and that we need to prepare for that — usually by returning to God (i.e., paying attention to God’s law) and/or repenting because we’ve neglected God’s law.
It seems to me there is so much biblical evidence for the predictability of human behavior: we stray from God. We’re told to repent. God enters into our experience in the way we least expect it, and pursues us no matter whether we repent, agree, follow, or whatever. God chooses us way before we choose God.
That’s underlying the prophetic passages we hear every Advent: that Christ is coming, because God always comes after us, even to the extent of sacrificing God’s own son. God’s love is relentless; God’s grace, once we truly experience it, is irresistible. It really is the ultimate Christmas gift, one that keeps giving and giving in exactly the right way at the time we need it. Happy Advent! See you in church.