Deliverance: the Spirit of Expectation/Beginning of Sorrows

Isa. 25:9.---' Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us.'

The special note of the season of Advent is expectation. We are trained in the habit of looking forward that we may come to Christ with the spirit of expectation in our hearts. For this spirit of expectation is like a golden thread, linking together the children of God of all times. It was the master-instinct of the prophets. They moved through the world of their day with something of the far-off look of men who have trained themselves to look forward. And gradually their vision came to concentrate on one thing---the promise of the coming of Christ. 'We have waited for him.' The Old Testament is the record of how men waited for the Incarnation, how they kept alive the spirit of expectation in the midst of discouragement and long delay. And so, when the promise was fulfilled, it was to men who had learned to wait that the truth was revealed---to Simeon and Anna for instance, who were looking for the consolation of Israel. But still the spirit of expectation lived on. Ask the early Christians what they are doing, and the reply is still the same: 'We are waiting for Him.' And still the unconquerable spirit of expectations lives in human hearts. Still men wait and dream of a good to come---a new coming of Christ.

Whatever else may be said of the early Church, that its back was toward the world and its face toward the coming of the Lord. Its course was steered not alone by the chart of its creed but by the pole-star of its hope. the fore-gleam of the day illumined its dark hours, and saved it from present fears. Its moral and ethical life found surest impulse in the certainty that Christ would come, just as it had found firm foundation in the certainty that He had come; and the inspiration of its splendid sacrifices, conflicts and triumphs was in this same sure consciousness. 'Now' was always 'the day of salvation' and hence of earnest effort to win men to Christ, since tomorrow might be the day of glory.

Waiting for Him. It is not enough to look forward; we must know for what we are waiting. Is it for success, honor, wealth, perhaps, and fame? Or is the true answer the answer of the text---we are waiting for God, for the touch of the Divine hand, the light of the Divine face, the realization of the vision of God? Keep this spirit of expectation, and we keep the secret of courage and hope; lose it and life is like a colored window behind which the sunset has faded, leaving only the darkened framework of the picture that glowed with splendid colors a little while ago.

'He will save us.' How the idea of salvation runs through all the Gospel story. 'Unto you is born a savior.' 'He will save us'---that is what every day comes to tell us again. Not---he will save the heathen, the outcast, the hopeless; but He will save us. It is a personal confession. For it implies that we are dissatisfied with our lives as they are; that we are willing that they should be lifted out of the bondage of convention, the slavery of selfishness and greed, the deception thoughtlessly practiced, the slander carelessly spoken. We confess that we too have need of salvation. And we confess that the power of the incarnate Christ is adequate to our needs.

'This is our God.' The Jewish records told how the people had stood at the foot of a great mountain and seen its summit shaken with earthquake and enriched with flame; and as they watched they whispered: 'This---splendid, terrifying, glory---this is our God.' And they had seen the luminous cloud that floated above the holiest place, and they had said: 'This---among us, yet apart, mysterious, incomprehensible---this is our God.' But the hour came when awed faces of simple men looked down on the cradle of a little Child, and whispered: 'This is our God'; no longer separated, encircled with majesty, but veiled in flesh, humbled to the fashion of men, entering human life through the avenue of birth. Is it strange that from that moment a revolution began in human thought of which no man can see the end?

A creed that tells how God was found in a cradle and on a cross ought surely to train us in the habit of watching for God where we should least expect to find Him. 'This is our God'; we have marked His footsteps along the fields, we have heard His voice among the trees. But, most of all, we have learned to look for Him in the broken bread and the poured-out wine. For the wonder of that first Christmas Day renews itself in simple hearts---

The only real guarantee for peace is in the resolute and watchful action of all Christian men. In this, too 'He will save us,' if we wait for Him. For He will save us from the impulse that makes for war, He will give us strength to stand firm when the passions of men break loose in the clamor for blood; He will teach us that there are better battles to fight than the battles full of 'confused noise and garments rolled in blood.' His battle is against ignorance and vice, against the selfish heart and the grasping hand, against discord and hatred, and all the foul things that haunt the darkness. So we pray: 'Give peace in our time, O Lord,' not that we may rest in indolent ease, but that we may turn to our true task---the battle against vice and ignorance; the truceless battle that must not end till we can join the triumphant song: 'This is our God; we have waited for him, and he has saved us!'

In Christ, timothy. maranatha