We are arrived at the grand lighting of the fourth candle, the angels’ candle, the candle of peace.
If I were to speak honestly, I would tell you that the one of four, the two and the three of four, would ordinarily disturb my tidy mind just a bit. One flame; three wicks, cold. Two and two. Three alight and a fourth, dark. Only Advent could produce such a thing on my table, evening by evening. One candle, not glowing, or two or three, flameless, while its fellows shone.
The very progression through the lighting of the Advent candles and the Scriptures that tell the story is tremendously time-altering for me. In my nature, it would be Christmas! – Let’s get on with it!
And yet … it has been a long time since I realized that the wait and the expectation of an event is sometimes the greater part of the joy of it all.
On that first Christmas night, that which was and had ever been on the mind and in the heart of God, came to earth, but Jesus was Prince of Peace before the angels were created. They were the heralds of the news, but before they filled the skies in our atmosphere, He was Jehovah Shalom. They had watched and waited for the day of His Advent for … centuries? Probably eons? Jesus had been prepared, from eternity past.
How do I know this? Because Jesus is and was the Lamb Slain from the Foundation of the Earth. That is His name. So also is “God With Us,” and not just a given name is this. He is and ever has been, Jehovah Shammah – God is There, not just “Here” at the right hand of the Father, from the beginning. At least from the formation of this “terrestrial globe,” the heavenly host knew that Jesus would come as Emmanuel to this planet. I suspect that they knew it from their own creation, for Jesus is and was Son of God, Savior, and Great High Priest, even before there was a planet to visit or a people to save.
Imagine having such a calling for such a length of days … or whatever the measure of time in heaven … angelic servants of a slain Son, a sacrificial lamb, the Passover of a people lost in sin and guilt, before there were people. How fully did they see? How much did they understand? We cannot know, but their rejoicing lit up the skies when the day – when the Holy Night – came.
Some of their number did, at some point in heavenly time, decide to wait no longer, and their mascot lifted himself up and fell in the same instant. Those who remained knew then and know now what glory isn’t. It isn’t setting oneself up to defy the truth of the Sovereign God, but rather to serve him, endless faithful days falling one upon another, with no better idea in mind and no greater desire in heart than to wait and watch and worship.
During this last week together, we will explore those ideas as they relate to us, with a little something more, something so tremendously more that angels “downward bend their wondering eyes at mysteries so bright.”
The Archangel Gabriel, by Titian
(glorious! – but probably not nearly glorious enough)
public domain, 100 years beyond the death of the artist, Wikipedia