Ben Waaraniemi | The Voice of Zion December 2023 - The Sabbath Word Article --
I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope. My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning. Let Israel hope in the Lord: for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption. And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities. – Psalm 130:5–8
The season of Advent is a time of waiting and preparation. We see in our homes and in our communities the signs of the coming festival in which we remember the humble birth of Jesus Christ. Many of us look forward to our Christmas celebrations.
The themes for the Advent Sundays speak to us of our Lord Jesus Christ: how He comes in both humility and glory, of the need to prepare for His coming, and finally how He is near. Advent is not only waiting for Christmas, but more importantly waiting and preparing for His second coming.
When a family is expecting, everyone in the home waits for the arrival of the child. The expectant mother especially looks forward: perhaps with worries about delivery, to the end of the discomfort of carrying the child or the health difficulties that pregnancy can bring, and the anticipation of the joy that comes with the child being delivered. “A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world” (John 16:21).
The Psalmist beautifully expresses that experience of waiting. The verses that precede this text are a prayer for mercy and forgiveness. They come from the proper place of recognizing that before God we have all fallen short: “If thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?” (Ps. 130:3). The Psalmist also expresses where his trust is placed: “I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.” It is good for us to recall the promises of God and renew our hope in them, also remembering His faithfulness to the former saints.
“My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.” The imagery here brings to our mind those who had the task of watching on the city walls throughout the night. In our time as well, many have duties in which they must stay awake and watch through the night. Law enforcement officials are on duty and must be ready to respond when necessary, doctors and nurses as well must be attentive to the care of their patients throughout the night.
In my temporal duties I monitor the operation of a power plant and have spent many nights watching and waiting for the morning. It is not always easy to stay alert and attentive to my responsibilities and I find myself watching the clock and waiting for the end of my shift. Waiting is difficult for the watchman – the Psalmist compares his waiting for the Savior to a watchman’s shift.
The time of Advent reminds us of the need to watch in faith as we wait. We easily tire in the endeavor; sin so often clouds our vision and makes the journey slow and difficult. As God’s Word instructs, we need to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1). Isn’t our experience the same as that of the psalmist? That “with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption?” We find again that God’s promises are sure and, as often as we need, the grace altar flows with living water. He has placed us in the care of His congregation and given us escorts to help us on the journey to heaven. From their mouths we hear the message from the heart of our heavenly Father that our sins are forgiven in Jesus’ name and blood.
By our faith in that gospel, we are departure-ready. With the same living hope of the psalmist, we can travel to the end of the days that God has numbered for us in this life. When that day comes we will go to the eternal Christmas celebration. “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Rev. 21:4).