Thy Kingdom Come: Desire of Nations

Text: Matthew 1:18-25
Date: Advent IV + 12/18/16

Thy Kingdom Come,
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King…
Our King of peace. (LSB 357)
Thy Kingdom Come.

The Christian faith and life is, among other things, one of waiting. Though God’s kingdom has come to us already by the gift of faith in God’s holy Word it’s clear we’re still not there yet, at least not completely. That Word has told us where we come from. It has revealed the reality of our sin and its wages as we are accountable to our Creator. It has also revealed the good news that, though we are not able to save ourselves, God Himself, Who is love itself, has come down to do the saving.

That’s what we begin to celebrate in this Time of Christmas. Already today in our Advent waiting St. Matthew brings us to know Mary and Joseph and the special “child from the Holy Spirit.” “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Isaiah ‘twas foretold it,
The rose I have in mind;
With Mary we behold it,
The virgin mother kind.
To show God’s love aright,
She bore to us a Savior,
When half-spent was the night. (LSB 359:2)

This is what a saving King looks like. He looks at first just like us. As great an honor and miracle as is the incarnation, that He was made man, one of us, still He is more than only like us. For He is also the Son of God. He is Emmanuel, God with us. He is God with us because He wants you to be with Him. By faith in Him you are “No longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Eph 2:19).

The Advent antiphons tell the story we need to know. First and above all, He is wisdom from on high.

“The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of old.
Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth,
before he had made the earth with its fields,
or the first of the dust of the world.
When he established the heavens, I was there;
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
    then I was beside him, like a master workman,
and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always,
rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the children of man.” (Proverbs 8:22-31)

In other words: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” (John 1:1-3).

He, says our antiphon, is Lord of might. Ruler of the house of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the burning bush and gave him the Law on Sinai.

He is Branch of Jesse’s tree. Ah, yes, the Promised One, promised of old, the Root of Jesse, the Messiah, The Key of David and scepter of the house of Israel. He is “the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens” (Rev 3:7). He is the King on David’s throne who rules forever, David’s Son yet David’s Lord.

He is the Dayspring from on high. “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:4-5). “O Morning Star, how fair and bright! You shine with God’s own truth and light, Aglow with grace and mercy!” (LSB 395).

Finally, O come, Desire of nations. Oh come and bind in one the hearts of all mankind. He is Savior of Israel and Savior of the Nations. St. John saw it. “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands” (Rev 7:9). For He said, “Go” and sends His disciples, His believers, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19). We have been made His disciples by water and the Word in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

The Christian faith and life is, among other things, one of waiting. Our waiting is almost over. For in but a few days we sing,

All my heart again rejoices
As I hear
Far and near
Sweetest angel voices,
“Christ is born!” their choirs are singing
Till the air
Ev’rywhere
Now with joy is ringing. (LSB 360)

Our waiting is almost over right now as Emmanuel, God with us, comes as He does in every Divine Service, with His body and blood born of Mary, offered up as sacrifice on the cross and now poured into our hearts binding all believers into one as our King of Peace.

Finally, our waiting shall end as He returns to deliver us from this world of sin, individually and then all at once. New bodies for old. New songs of celebration.

Yea, amen, let all adore Thee,
High on Thine eternal throne;
Savior, take the pow’r and glory,
Claim the kingdom as Thine own,
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
Thou shalt reign, and Thou alone! (LSB 336)