A Message of Hope: An Advent Devotional

Hope. It’s what keeps us going when we’ve been knocked down again and again. The unbreakable conviction that God is in control and will work all things together for the good of those who love Him. Hebrews says that faith is the substance of things hoped for. And what do we hope for? That God will keep His promise and work all things together. But the word ‘will’ here is in the future tense. That means it has not yet been fully realized, or as it says in Hebrews, “not seen.” So, like sailors in a ship tossed about in a storm, we wait, hoping that we will arrive at our desired harbor of God’s promises kept.  The only thing holding us steady in the storms of uncertainty is the anchor of our souls. He is our Hope. And His name is Shiloh!

I bet you thought I was going to say, ‘Jesus.’ Well, I did in a way, but I want to introduce you to a name of Jesus found only in Genesis 49:10. It was spoken as part of the blessing that Jacob gave to his son Judah. (From which tribe Jesus was born into.) Jacob says, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people. Bible scholars have interpreted the name to be a reference to the Messiah. So, for centuries the Jewish people clung to the hope that the right of self-rule would not depart from them until Shiloh (Messiah) comes. Even during the rule of foreign masters, the Jewish people still had a right to a limited self-rule so their hope for the Messiah was not dashed. But it seemed that the hope of the Jewish people was crushed, and the prophecy left unfulfilled when, in AD 7, the Romans took away their last ability to self-rule. They stripped Jewish authorities of the right to impose capital punishment. Tradition says that the rabbis walked the streets of Jerusalem and said, “Woe unto us, for the scepter has been taken away from Judah, and Shiloh has not come.”

Now, you’re probably smiling as you read this because you know something that the rabbis didn’t know. You know that Shiloh had indeed come. You know the whole story, how one night, at least seven years before, but more likely around twelve years before, Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem. So, in AD 7, when the scepter of self-rule was taken away, Jesus could have very possibly been old enough to enter the inner courts of the Temple for the first time.  It is not inconceivable that the scholars in the temple were speaking to Jesus about the unfulfilled prophecy, not realizing that they were speaking to Shiloh! The very fulfilment of God’s promise.

Even though Jesus had fulfilled every single one of the promises about Him, most people never knew He came because they were hoping for something else or were too busy or too full of themselves to go to Bethlehem and see the hope of nations. But I encourage you this Christmas season to go back to Bethlehem in your heart and see Shiloh for yourself. And when you see Him, you can remember that God always keeps His promises. And, quite often, it is far more than we could possibly ask or imagine.

About the author:

Jeff Redding is a Sales Rep at Brentwood Benson. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music degree from Samford University and has been a worship pastor in both established churches and in new church starts for over twenty-six years.  He currently lives near Fairview, Tennessee with his wife and three children.

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