Romans 15:4, 12-13
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
And again, Isaiah says,
The Root of Jesse will spring up. One who will arise to rule over the nations. In him the Gentiles will hope.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I once met a man who helped me put together the fragments of theology I had gathered in my youth. The link between the Old and New Testaments became clearer each week, and through the teaching, terms I found vaguely familiar turned into truths that reached me at a deeply personal level. My spiritual father, Rev George Ashun-Sarpy, helped me understood the truth behind the old Testament and new Testament.
One day I realized I was a Gentile. I heard the term but never really thought about what it meant certainly not personally. Then one day with the help of the pastor’s teaching and my own personal reading, it occurred to me I was, in fact, a Gentile in Africa, far removed from Abraham and the patriarchs who had been set apart as God’s chosen people. And yet the letters of Paul explained that I was welcomed into the family of God because of the work of Jesus Christ.
Jesus fulfilled all the Old Testament promises, making it possible for me to claim the whole of Scripture as my reality. Even though I was separated by thousands of miles from the Holy Land and thousands of years from the time of Christ and thousands more from the patriarchs, I could glorify God for his mercy, for making a way for me to join the family of God. Floored at how the Holy Spirit linked me to this line of truth that stretched back to God’s earliest promises, I wrote in the margin of my Bible, and then underlined it, amazed.
I continue to be amazed, months later, sitting in the quiet stillness of this day looking back at many of the promises again, grateful that those words were written to teach me, to remind me, to encourage me that this Gentile belongs in the family of God because of Christ Jesus, who came to earth, born as a Jew, fulfilling all those promises recorded in the past to teach us.
Paul wrote in Romans 15:12, The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; in him the Gentiles will hope. And John wrote in Revelation 5:5, And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. I can look back and see the promises fulfilled in Christ applied to me today, to right now, this moment. I can live in this hope, in this reality.
In Jesus, the Gentiles will hope. I can exclaim. Thanks be to God.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: How have you connected New Testament reality with Old Testament stories and promises? What biblical concepts and truths have come alive to you personally? How can a personal understanding of these truths add depth to your Advent reflections?