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Anticipating the Kingdom – Adam Chaney

“The good news of the only true, righteous and just King absolutely permeates the very fabric of society, no matter how pagan, unto the point of transformation, as long as there are faithful justice warriors willing to embody the lifestyle of his Kingdom.”

I love the Christmas season. I should say, I love the Advent season. Traditionally, the church has observed the season of Advent leading up to Christmas day in an effort to cultivate a sense of anticipation and a practice of preparation in the hearts and minds of believers. In this way, the body of Christ reverences the incarnation event, the good news, the arrival of the King, the embodiment of Justice. However, the Christmas season has now come and gone. All the anticipation, preparation and excitement has faded away as it does each year. Yet, I don’t think it should. The holiday season is a time of focused and, in some ways, intense anticipation. When the anticipated moment has pasted, often we ask ourselves “Now what?” I propose to you that we ought to live with an even greater sense of anticipation, expectation and hope now that the season has concluded. Now that we have celebrated the birth of Messiah, we anticipate the rule and reign of the newborn King! The end of the Advent season means the beginning of the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven! Now, that is something to get excited about.

Following the season of Advent on the traditional Christian liturgical calendar is the observance of Epiphany. Epiphany celebrates the sharing of the gospel with the Gentiles for the first time. This is represented by the Magi mentioned in Matthew 2:1-12.

Throughout the Christmas season I am sure you have seen three flamboyantly dressed, multi-ethnic, supposed kings, with various gifts, kneeling at the edge of the manger scene flanked by their camels. And when you see this you think to yourself: “There are those Wise Men with their gifts of frankincense, gold and myrrh for baby Jesus.” Unfortunately, most of our ideas about these guys come from the people who draw Christmas cards rather than theologians or even historians.

We know from the passage in Matthew that Magi from the East arrived in Jerusalem, following an cosmological sign, in search of a king. Note, they are called “magi” not wise men. I will spare you the translation nuances. The important thing to know is that Magi is a title. These guys were of a priestly class from the Medo-Persian Empire. Think of them as the Levites (priests) of Medo-Persia. The Medo-Persians were a very ancient people group and the Magi were their pagan priesthood. They were deeply entrenched in astronomy, astrology and sorcery. This is how we get our word magic. Many scholars have suggested that this strange band of eastern priest had traveled to Israel in search of the King of Kings, the Messiah. There is some historical evidence that suggest the Magi played a significant role in the anointing and christening of kings. They were the ancient king makers of the eastern world. “The Law of the Medes and the Persians” states that no Persian was ever able to ascend the royal throne without first mastering the disciplines of the Magi and then being anointed by the Magi as royalty.

Why am I telling you this? What does this have to do with ending human trafficking and establishing biblical justice in society? Well, it seems that a young Hebrew exile named Daniel played a very significant role in this story. Remember, Daniel was a Jewish exile in Babylon. While he was there, Babylon was conquered by the Medo-Persian. There are multiple references to the Magi throughout the book of Daniel (Daniel chapters 2,4,6). In fact, it seems that Daniel is appointed as a leader, or chief, over the Magi at one point. While in exile for 70 years, Daniel and the rest of the Jews would have certainly told their Gentile neighbors and counterparts about their long awaited and anticipated Messiah King. They would have shared prophetic literature, their creation narrative, and eschatological hopes. Interestingly, Daniel 9 offers a prophetic timeline of signs and wonders that might have been used by the Magi who were watching and waiting for the unprecedented Messiah King of Psalm 2.

Here is my point: The good news of the only true, righteous and just King absolutely permeates the very fabric of society, no matter how pagan, unto the point of transformation, as long as there are faithful justice warriors willing to embody the lifestyle of his Kingdom.

Five-hundred years before the incarnation, a faithful remnant refused to eat at the table of the wicked, refused to fall victim to the defilement of Babylon and boldly proclaimed the Kingdom of God. This is what it means to live a lifestyle of anticipation and preparation; a lifestyle of Advent. The Advent of Christ’s coming as a baby is only the prelude. The King has arrived! Now what? Now the Kingdom is at hand! As the “Season of Advent” draws to a close, let us now begin to live a “Lifestyle of Advent” There is no let down and disappointment here, not for those who are in Christ Jesus. We go on living, anticipating more than ever, expecting more than ever, hoping more than ever, for a coming day when the King of Kings will return once again and establish his Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, forever more.

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