Christmas Advent, Faith, Stories from Scripture
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{Advent}A Promise on a Dark Night

For your own sake, Lord, smile again on your desolate sanctuary {Daniel 9:17}

Have you ever been rejected? Have you ever felt so empty that the cries of your heart echoed on the walls of a desolate soul? Have you ever prayed the same prayer, confessed the same sins, over and over again, begged for an answer or a glimmer of hope?

Perhaps your family or marriage was crumbling under the pressure of sin and heartbreak. Perhaps a church split ripped friendships apart. Perhaps the tide of past hurts or mistakes threatened to flood your future keeping forgiveness out of reach.

You can turn to the Lord, like Daniel long ago and plead: For your own sake, Lord, smile again on your desolate sanctuary.

Daniel was a young man when the Babylonian army swept through Jerusalem and plundered the temple and captured Israel’s finest. He marched into the desert and lived the remainder of his life in service to the kings of another country. But always his heart turned toward home, toward Jerusalem and toward the one, true God of Israel.

Daniel held fast to the promise of God. Daniel’s confession and appeal begin this way:

I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed: “O Lord, you are a great and awesome God! You always fulfill your covenant and keep your promises of unfailing love to those who love you and obey your commands.

He went on to confess his personal sins and the offenses of his people. He repeated his cry for forgiveness, deliverance and help. He faced a dark sky from his chamber windows and looked for salvation.

Alone, desperate, he cried out for help.

In answer to Daniel’s prayer, God sent an angel.

The angel’s name was Gabriel.

Gabriel had a special message. A mathematical message that required of Daniel a level of faith most of us cannot begin to muster. The message was frightening, but how could it not be so when a holy God describes the defeat of all evil? But the message was also full to overflowing with hope and salvation:

{Daniel 9:23-24} The moment you began praying, a command was given. And now I am here to tell you what it was, for you are very precious to God. Listen carefully so that you can understand the meaning of your vision. A period of seventy sets of seven has been decreed for your people and your holy city to finish their rebellion, to put an end to their sin, to atone for their guilt, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to confirm the prophetic vision, and to anoint the Most Holy Place.”

And the answer to his prayer was delivered in the form of a promise.

And it was delivered in the form of a name, Messiah {Daniel 9:25, the Anointed One}.

Jesus, the Anointed One, alone would be the answer to this desperate cry. God says he cared so much for Daniel that he gave him the prophetic algorithm so that, if preserved over generations, the Hebrew people could find him when he arrived, that most amazing day when the Messiah became Immanuel and walked and worked and lived with his creation; and even more, pointed to the day when the Messiah, the Anointed One, would become the Sacrifice.

Advent is all about looking forward, upward, toward the Coming of Christ. Like we strain to watch a shooting star streak across the black, velvet sky, we can stretch our souls toward the future and look to see our Savior Coming.

And like Daniel (see his prayer in Chapter 9) we can do these things:

We can be broken by our sin.

We can remember our Faithful God.

We can turn to God for help.

We can confess for our own mistakes and intercede for others.

We can beg pardon and ask for miracles.

We can remember the deeds and character of God.

We can ask for salvation.

We can repeat these steps.

We can wait for his answer.

We can trust in his word.

We can hope in his promise.

We can live and die with Messiah on our lips.

Or, we can go on living as before, nonplussed and unaffected, insulated and isolated, unchanged and dark with hopelessness. But Christmas, of all days, gives us the opportunity to face the dark-windowed night and call to God: For your own sake, Lord, smile again on your desolate sanctuary.

His answer is a promise. The promise is Jesus. He’s coming again. Are you looking forward to that day?

Blessings,

Alyssa

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3 Comments

  1. Excellent. Very encouraging. Thanks for the reminder of His mercy over His fallen world. That’s what Christmas is all about.

  2. Diane says

    Thanks for this…I really appreciate this right now, I said some things just this last weekend that I really need forgiveness for…to my dear sister, too. And she is so hurt and angry, well, I just don’t know how its gonna turn out. So thanks for reminding me of the Love that Christmas reminds us to believe in and live for. With His love, good things are possible, I believe.

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