So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days.
- Nehemiah 6:15
It happened! They completed the wall! In 52 days, no less!
The wall is built, but there is still unrest. There is still longing.
The longing that God has placed in the hearts of His people to be with Him – to commune with Him – to experience the fullness of His unfathomable loving kindness – this longing remained for the people of God even after the wall had been built. It was a longing that would not be fulfilled until a small baby boy was born in Bethlehem hundreds of years later – a baby who would be the Savior of the world.
As we approach the beginning of December, Advent reminds us that we, too, are waiting.
“Even on this side of Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, there is brokenness in our world no cart full of Black Friday bargains can fix; there is hunger in our souls no plateful of pumpkin custard can fill; there is twistedness in our hearts no terrestrial hand can touch. “The whole creation,” the apostle Paul declared, “has been groaning together for redemption” (Rom. 8:22).
In Advent, Christians embrace the groaning, recognizing it not as hopeless whimpering over the poverty of the present moment but as expectant yearning for the divine banquet Jesus is preparing for us.
In Advent, the church admits, as poet R. S. Thomas puts it, that “the meaning is in the waiting.” And what we await is a final Advent yet to come. Just as the ancient Israelites awaited the coming of the Messiah in flesh, we await the coming of the Messiah in glory. In Advent, believers confess that the infant who drew his first ragged breath between a virgin’s knees has yet to speak his final word.”*
As we continue to learn from Nehemiah, may our hearts look forward with anticipation, willing to push pause on the busyness of this season to allow ourselves to fully feel the longing that God has placed in our hearts as His people. And as we long, may we be thankful for the Messiah who has come – the One who has granted us citizenship in a City of God that will one day be free of opposition and unrest. It is this truth that invites us to wait well. It is this truth that undergirds our hearts and minds with the "joy of the Lord" Ezra mentions in Nehemiah 8. It is this truth that leads us to worship.
See you Sunday!
*Taken from https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/why-celebrate-advent/ by Timothy Paul Jones