This year, December 2 marked the beginning of Advent. Advent is a period of four weeks in December that many Christians observe to prepare for the celebration of the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ. While it is commonly known that Jesus was not born on December 25, His birth is traditionally celebrated on this day by many. Advent is the Latin word for “coming”, which makes Advent preparation to commemorate the incarnation of Jesus Christ (Lk. 2).
However, it’s obvious that all who celebrate Christmas are not celebrating the birth of Jesus. For non-Christians, the Christmas season is merely a time for winter trips, shopping, parties, decorations, exchanging presents, etc. For the retail industry, it is usually a time when businesses recover from financial deficits throughout the year. This profit surge usually starts on the Friday after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday. Corporate budgets typically shift from red (deficit) to black (profit) due to the increase of demand for their products. Certainly, Christians contribute to retail and travel industry profits during this time of year, but at large, the culture is not seeking to genuinely glorify Jesus Christ. For many, He’s a mean to a great financial end. This is just one of the reasons why Advent significantly matters and is so desperately needed.
Why the need for Advent?
As stated, the Advent season is a time to commemorate the coming of Jesus Christ. The most significant person ever to be born was Jesus Christ and part of what validates that claim is understanding why there was a need for Him to be born.
Everyday all across the globe we see and hear of terrible and tragic events. All one has to do is tune in to their local news or national news channel or social media outlets to see or read about various tragedies occurring non-stop, as it seems. Tragedies and sufferings are experienced by all of creation. These tragedies and sufferings are what the Bible calls the groans of creation longing to be free from the curse that it was subjected to.
Romans 8:20-23 says –
20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
While Romans 8 is arguably one of the most encouraging chapters for the believer, it does explain why all of creation, including you and me, suffers. Let’s observe what this text says as it pertains to the present condition of creation, our response to these conditions and why this condition exists.
Verse 21 tells us that creation is in bondage to corruption. Though there is much beauty to behold in all of creation, it is marred by corruption. This corruption expresses itself in physical corruption and moral corruption. Every tornado screams corruption. Every stillborn baby screams corruption. Every cancer diagnosis screams corruption. Strife and deception among humanity screams corruption. Man’s rejection of his Creator screams corruption. Corruption and its effects are pervasive physically and morally.
Verses 22 and 23 tell us that all of creation, including humanity groans, but is awaiting an emancipation from our corrupted state (See v21 & 23b). These groans serve as a witness that all is not right and there is a deep desire for an emancipation from corruption.
However, verse 20 seems to be the most provocative verse in this passage. It says “creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it…..” The original word for futility means that which is devoid of truth or appropriateness or perverseness and depravity. Creation was subject to that which is devoid of truth or depravity, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it. Someone subjected creation to a condition of corruption or depravity. There has been some debate about who him is in this verse, but Genesis 3 settles that debate.
After transgressing the clear command of God to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God curses Adam, the woman and the serpent. With respect to the curse pronounced to Adam, creation would work hard against man’s rule and cultivation. All that man had dominion over would be subject to futility. Due to Adam’s sin, man’s relationship with God, with his wife (and all other human relationships) and with creation was broken. This was God’s judgment for Adam’s sin – futility. God subjected all of creation to futility as a form of judgment. Creation groans because of the curse we’re under and the corruption we experience every day. In fact, this is the whole point of Ecclesiastes. All of life without God is vanity or futility. Also, futility is our natural state (Ps. 51:5, Eph. 2:1-3). Due to Adam’s rebellion, we’re born in a state of moral corruption. Our sinful nature is incapable of pleasing God in any way and only fit for His just wrath. We need liberation from sin and from God’s wrath.
Thankfully, Romans 8:20b-21 reminds us that that futility is not the end. God subjected creation to futility “in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom….”.
But how? How will creation be set free from its bondage to corruption?
Genesis 3:15 gives us a small hint of the one God would send to set man and the rest of creation free from His wrath and from the bondage to corruption to obtain freedom. The rest of the voices of the Old Testament grows progressively louder concerning the coming of this appointed emancipator.
May our Christmas season be a joyful gratuitous expression for the Christ who has come and brought freedom!