Advent: December 20

First Reading: 2 Samuel 7:1–11, 16

When the king had settled into his palace and the Lord had given him rest on every side from all his enemies, the king said to Nathan the prophet, “Look, I am living in a cedar house while the ark of God sits inside tent curtains.”

So Nathan told the king, “Go and do all that is on your heart, for the Lord is with you.”

But that night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: “Go to My servant David and say, ‘This is what the Lord says: Are you to build a house for Me to live in? From the time I brought the Israelites out of Egypt until today I have not lived in a house; instead, I have been moving around with a tent as My dwelling. In all My journeys with all the Israelites, have I ever asked anyone among the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd My people Israel: Why haven’t you built Me a house of cedar?’

“Now this is what you are to say to My servant David: ‘This is what the Lord of Hosts says: I took you from the pasture and from following the sheep to be ruler over My people Israel. I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have destroyed all your enemies before you. I will make a name for you like that of the greatest in the land. I will establish a place for My people Israel and plant them, so that they may live there and not be disturbed again. Evildoers will not afflict them as they have done ever since the day I ordered judges to be over My people Israel. I will give you rest from all your enemies.

“‘The Lord declares to you: The Lord Himself will make a house for you. [. . .] Your house and kingdom will endure before Me forever, and your throne will be established forever’” (HCSB)

When you think about reading Advent passages of Scripture, turning to 2 Samuel probably doesn’t come to mind. The book of 2 Samuel is an account of David and his reign as King of Israel. This passage in particular is about David communicating with Nathan his desire to build a more permanent structure for God to dwell in and be among the people of Israel. This is one of the most important things that sets Israel apart from other nations—their God wanted to live with them. Their God wanted to be among His people instead of being a god who was far off and detached. God’s desire has always been to live with His people.

As we continue reading this passage, we see that God loves David’s idea, but instead of David establishing a house for God, God was going to establish David’s house forever. The house that would be established for David would be a royal dynasty that would span for generations and generations—all the way to a carpenter and his wife living under the Roman government.

Then all of a sudden John 1:14 comes: “The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

John is writing about Jesus who is God incarnate—the God who lives and dwells with His people. John 1:14 can be seen as a completion of 2 Samuel 7. The hope that Nathan and David had when thinking about God living and dwelling in the temple among the people of Israel was coming to live in flesh and blood—to dwell in human form among His people. The temple was a representation of what was to come in Jesus—God incarnate entering the everyday life of His people.

As we look around the world today, things seem dark and hopeless, as though God has abandoned His people. But we do not place our hope in temples, buildings, or idols. We place our hope in Jesus—our God who lives and dwells with us every day.

Jesus—who came to His people as a baby.

Jesus—who has not forgotten us, but lived among us.

Jesus—who will be with us forevermore.

Liz Stevahn – One-Eighty Neighborhood Impact Director and Missional Church Planter