Prepare to meet your God, O Israel.
Amos 4:12b (NIV)
Preparation is what the season of Advent is all about. John the Baptist quoted the prophet Isaiah in his preaching “prepare the way for the LORD” (Luke 3:4). But what does this preparation entail?
By looking at the context of both the verse from Amos and John the Baptist’s preaching we can see that it wasn’t preparation in the sense that we often prepare during Advent. Our preparation is often mostly about buying gifts, setting up the decorations, and going to parties, but the words from our verse above and John the Baptist’s message (“Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?”) are intended to strike fear in our hearts. Preparing means taking inventory and confessing that, left to our own devices, we would be utterly lost and unable to meet the requirements of a Holy God.
The reality of someone doing anything to escape preparation to meet God is something we have encountered often. Mind numbing substances provide an escape, devotion to sports or video games, provide means of avoiding the inevitable. Many young and old in our community take part in these activities because they have so much pain in their lives. Instead of looking to the One who can heal and satisfy, they look to others. It is almost as if our world is set up to distract us from the most important thing of all: our standing with God.
In contrast to Israel’s history, where a meeting with God would inspire nothing but dread, we have much to be thankful for. Although there was nothing of our own, nothing we could stand on to give us hope, God gave us His Son. God gave us something to prepare for that matters! God gave us robes of righteousness (Revelation 6:11) so that when we meet Him, He sees Jesus and not our failings. Our meeting with God now becomes a meeting we can look forward to!
Lord, I confess to You that, if I were to stand on my own, all of my faults would keep me from Your presence, and only reveal Your wrath. I am so thankful Lord for Your gift to me, that I can come into Your presence through Your Son, without fear, and look forward to meeting You, Amen.