Be Ready for Christ’s Second Coming
These are the readings for the First Sunday in Advent.
(This Worship Help aligns with the lectionary readings from Christian Worship 1993 and Christian Worship: Supplement.)
God’s Word for This Week
With Advent, God’s people enter a new year of grace. The word “Advent” means “coming.” While we generally think of Advent as preparing us for our Savior’s first coming to this earth, the first Sunday in Advent highlights Christ’s second coming on judgment day. God urges us to be ready for him with a life of ongoing repentance, watchfulness, and spiritual renewal.
Traditional First Lesson – Isaiah 2:1-5
What is the “mountain of the Lord’s temple”?
The “mountain of the Lord’s temple” was an expression also used by Micah in his book (Micah 4:1). It refers to us, to God’s New Testament church. Isaiah is prophesying the coming Savior whose work would bring the most important time in the history of Israel or Jerusalem. That means, do not focus on the mountain on which the temple was built. Focus on God’s undeserved love for sinners, which will draw people to him, just like the Israelites were drawn to the temple in Jerusalem.
How do we know that the peace referred to in verse 4 is a spiritual peace, not an earthly peace?
Since the fall into sin, there has been no promise from God of peace on earth. Through the coming Savior’s forgiveness, we have peace with God. (See also Luke 1:77-79 and Romans 5:1.)
Supplemental First Lesson – Genesis 6:9-22, 7:11-23
How would you compare the world of Noah’s time to our world today, and how are we like Noah as we wait for Christ’s return?
Jesus told the story of the flood to explain the unexpected coming of God in judgment and grace. Noah was a man who worked and walked in the light. But he lived in a world darkened by sin. The lost around him were deaf to his preaching and blind to the signs. The coming of God’s judgment was as unexpected as it was terrifying for them. But in the middle of all that judgment, God came in unexpected grace to rescue Noah and his family.
As Noah worked and walked in the light, he heeded God’s warnings and trusted God’s promises. He watched; he waited; he prepared. And God made good on his promise: the same flood that judged the world also safely carried Noah and his family until they came to rest on a world washed clean. We live in a world that is still darkened by sin. As believers, we follow Noah’s example as we watch, wait, and prepare for Christ’s coming. We do not fear his return since we know he’s coming to take us to heaven.
Second Lesson – Romans 13:11-14
In what way is our salvation “nearer now than when we first believed”? (See 13:11.)
Each day of our life brings us that much closer to the goal of our faith, eternity with our God.
How do you “clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ”? (See 13:14.)
You clothe yourself with Christ through faith in him. While an unbeliever has no natural ability to believe in Jesus or come to him, a believer in Christ, a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17), chooses to read Scripture, attend worship, study the Bible with others, and apply the Bible to their life. To “clothe yourself with Christ” practically means to immerse yourself in God’s Word.
Gospel – Matthew 24:37-44
In what way is the great flood similar to Jesus’ return on judgment day?
Just as Noah warned the people of his day, our God has warned his world about Jesus’ second coming. Yet, it will take many by surprise; then, as in the days of Noah, it will be too late.
Why do you think Jesus didn’t reveal to us the exact time of his second coming?
Certainly, Jesus knows what we are like. He knows that we procrastinate, are often spiritually lazy, and can succumb to false security. If we knew the date of his return, no doubt many would succumb to these. In his love, he doesn’t tell us when he will return.
What point did Jesus make by saying that not even the Son knows the day of his coming?
The second coming of Christ will be totally unexpected. No one will predict it; everyone must be ready for it to come at any time.