Advent has much to do with anticipatory waiting and fulfilling arrival. We typically tie this into the coming of Jesus in the incarnation and the future hope of the second coming of Christ at the end of the age. Tucked in between those two events and certainly much closer in time to the first than the second is another advent. This advent is the arrival of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Like the other two, this one also required waiting.
Here is what Luke records,
“48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” – Luke 24:48-49
and later in Acts,
“4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” – Acts 1:4-5
You can be sure these apostles were ready to shake the nations…to usher in the kingdom…to share all that Jesus had taught them…to show Christ to the world. They were not to do it without the power and partnership of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus made them wait.
He made them wait and I am quite certain that it put them in a listening posture. How much anticipation do you think they had knowing that what the prophets had spoken of, the coming of the Holy Spirit as Joel prophesied was coming at any moment?
I do wonder if they didn’t have some clue that Pentecost was the answer with all that Festival entails and the symbolism and parallels embedded in its celebration but we don’t know that with any degree of certainty. The point remains, God made them wait. In making them wait they had to acknowledge that apart from the Spirit their mission was off on the wrong foot. In making them wait they had to understand that without the Spirit their mission and message would lack all the power it needed for God to do what God was going to do in them and through them.
They were waiting on the arrival of the Holy Spirit.
How often do we rush God? How often do we fail to attune to the Spirit? How often do we rush headlong with our plans and wishes and desire and preempt the Spirit’s work. We might do better to do more waiting and less rushing. We have little room for anticipation, even faith, if we are always rushing to fill the gaps between what we perceive to be God’s activity.
Tozer summed this up like this,
“When Jesus said, ‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15), Peter probably leaped to his feet and, no doubt, scooped up his hat on the way out. He was going to go right then!
But the Lord said, Peter, come back and ‘tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high’ (Luke 24:49).
I heard a Christian leader warn recently that we are suffering from a rash of amateurism in Christian circles. Christianity has leveled down and down and down. We are as light as butterflies – though we flit, flit, flit around in the sunshine and imagine that we are eagles flapping our broad wings.
Sometimes I think the church would be better off if we would call a moratorium on activity for about six weeks and just wait on God to see what He is waiting to do for us. That’s what they did at Pentecost.” – Life in the Spirit
You can’t rush the birth of Jesus. You can’t rush the second coming. You certainly cannot rush the timing of the Holy Spirit’s work. Maybe we need more waiting and more listening…more anticipation of God’s working and less busy work. This is the stuff that faith is built on. Rushing the Spirit’s work is an act of self-faith and we must fight ourselves to keep from our souls dwelling in that place.