First Lesson: Isaiah 64: 1-9
Responsive Reading: Psalm 80: 1-7, 17-19
Second Lesson: 1 Corinthians 1: 3-9
Gospel Lesson: Mark 13: 24-37
Grace and Peace from Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Human history is littered with some of the wisest and most powerful of people making what turned out to be very foolish predictions.
In the year 1773, King George III of the United Kingdom was asked about the possibility of Revolution amongst the American colonies he responded that he didn’t believe the colonists had the stomach for war.
In 1903, America’s most prominent Astronomy professor was a gentleman named Simon Newcomb. Newcomb made the following comments on the possibility of Air Travel “May not our (engineers) mechanicians . . . be ultimately forced to admit that aerial flight is one of the great class of problems with which man can never cope, and (should) give up all attempts to grapple with it?”. Air Travel at high speeds according to Newcomb was an impossibility.
1903, Henry Ford’s lawyer was a gentleman named Horace Rackham, Rackham was in the process of seeking out financial advice from the President of his local Michigan Savings Bank regarding investing in Ford’s new invention called “the automobile.” When Rackham was told not to invest, the reason was “Ford’s automobile is merely a fad, whereas the horse is here to stay.”
October 21st, 1929. Irving Fisher was an economics professor at Yale University. Fisher was jubilant about a recent uptick in the stock market. Fisher then made the following bold prediction: “Stock prices have reached a permanently high plateau.” Three days later, the U.S. economy is devastated by Black Tuesday’s stock market crash. The U.S. Economy would not recover for nearly two decades.
In 1962, a gentleman named Dick Rowe was the head of talent for a British record label named Decca Records. Rowe had a long and successful career in the music industry. On January 1st a young foursome from Liverpool came to audition for Rowe. Rowe rejected the band deeming “Guitar groups are on their way out.” The group known as the Beatles that Rowe said “no” has since proceeded to sell over 800 million records worldwide.
Now all these predictions were made by really, smart people who years down the line ended up looking quite foolish and silly. This background brings us to Today’s First Sunday in Advent. Throughout Advent this year, we are going to look at the background for each of the Advent candles that we light.
On this day, we light what is known as the ““ Prophecy Candle.” The Prophecy Candle seeks to remind us how Christ’s coming fulfilled previous promises given within the Old Testament while assuring us that a second advent shall eventually take place when Christ returns to Earth.
The point of the Prophecy Candle is to remind us how hard it is truly is to predict the future. Earlier, this Summer, The Superior Hiking Trail had a guided hike scheduled in the Grand Marais area. The hike was to start at 10 A.M. So around 6 AM; I look at that day’s forecast. I see a warning of severe thunderstorms to take place later that afternoon up in Cook County. I look at the radar, see some weather cells seemingly several hours away that could have caused trouble. I dreaded being out in the woods with safety several miles away. I didn’t want to drive sixty miles only to hear “no hike, Today.” So I decided that I was going to stay home. By noon on that day, the weather was as nice as it was all summer. Seventy degrees without a cloud in the sky, talking to fellow hikers later “They commented on the glorious weather.” Now Meteorology is not an easy science, but on this Saturday I had certainly been led astray by it.
So human predictions regardless of the experts behind them promise to have a high degree of error, what makes Biblical predictions different?
Biblical predictions are different because of the nature of the one making the predictions. No matter how smart we get in this life, we remain unable to control the future.
What happens in the life of Jesus? Jesus’ life is marked by predictions that eventually come true.
One-Thousand years before his birth. Psalm 22 predicts Christ’s death by declaring that his hands and feet shall be pierced, they will divide his garments and cast lots for his clothing.
Several hundred years before his birth. The Prophet Isaiah declares “the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Immanuel means “God with us.” Isaiah also is specific in tying the Messiahs’ family tree to Israel’s greatest King in David.
The prophet Micah about six hundred years before Jesus’ birth declares that the tiny village of Bethlehem shall be the birthplace of Israel’s next great religious leader.
The Old Testament closes in the Book of Malachi by promising a prophet just like Elijah to get people ready for the Messiah. This prediction was known by the author of the Gospel of Luke as he speaks of a “new Elijah” named John the Baptist.
The overriding theme of the Old Testament shared by both Jews and Christians alike is that a Messiah is soon coming. The Messiah’s presence will soon change everything. As Christian people, we believe Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection were all predicted and have all come true.
The world is full of all sorts of people claiming to be prophets, all sorts of people claiming to speak for God. The test of whether prophecy though is ultimately true or false is whether what a person says ends up being reality.
Matthew 16:21 “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
There is a lot in this world; we can’t say for certain. The 1998 Minnesota Vikings were the best Vikings team in my lifetime. They went 15-1, only losing one game by three points. They set an NFL record for most points scored in a single season. They were one game away from going back to the Super Bowl. I had never been more confident in a Vikings game in my life heading into the conference title game versus the Atlanta Falcons, three short hours and Minneapolis would have the greatest party I had ever seen. The game starts out according to the script; Vikings are up 27-20 with a little over two minutes, left in the game, all that was needed to clinch the game was the Vikings kicker Gary Anderson making a relatively easy kick. Anderson hadn’t missed a kick all season. I was convinced that I knew the outcome, only Anderson misses the kick, the Falcons score a touchdown, win the game in overtime, I exit the Metrodome in dead silence along with 64,000 other people. No matter how much evidence I had, no matter my degree of certainty, I could not predict the future correctly.
As Christian people, there is a lot we don’t know. When meteorologists can’t get the forecast right, we need to admit the future is more uncertain that want to admit. The day of Christ’s return. “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
The point of Advent is the Savior is indeed coming. The Savior has said he’s coming bring us into his presence. We can do one of two things with this knowledge. We can assume that we possess the ability to sort out these grand mysteries of the universe like so many experts before us, or we can place our faith in the one whose promises continually come true. We can find our hope in our powers and abilities, or we can place our hope in the one who conquered death.
Tim Zingale tells the following story. Once upon a time, a tourist was traveling alongside Lake Como in Northern Italy. The tourist comes upon a castle, which was a sight like a tourist had never seen before in his life. The grounds were in perfect order, and the beauty was indescribable. The tourist hoping to look around a little more knocks on the gate. To his amazement, a friendly gardener answers. The tourist asked whether the gardener owned the castle? No, he was told that the owner lived far, far away. The tourist asked, “When was the owner last here?” The gardener answered, “He hasn’t been here for a dozen years.” The tourist wondered what about the owner’s representatives? The gardener replied, “Haven’t seen a single one of them either.” The tourist was stumped at this point, he finally asks “Why all this effort, when you don’t know when the owner might come? To which the gardener replied, “Because the owner might be coming, later today!”
Jesus remains with us even when he might seem completely absent, even when we maybe seemingly haven’t encountered his presence for years: “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
So therefore as Christian people, we are called to remain vigilant “Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning, lest he comes suddenly and finds you asleep.”
The point of Advent is this. Jesus has come. Jesus is coming. Jesus will come again.
Jesus comes as a babe born in a lowly manager. Jesus comes as he hangs upon the cross alongside people no different than you and me. Jesus comes as he bursts out of an empty tomb, declaring death’s power will soon fade away. Jesus is coming when we receive the promises of the forgiveness of our sins upon hearing his Gospel. Jesus is coming as we receive his promises in water, bread, and wine. Jesus will come again because even if it takes hundreds or even thousands of years, his promises will eventually come true. Amen
 Found on Sermon Illustrations.com under “Prophecy”on November 27th, 2017. The following example comes from The World’s Worst Predictions.
 “Simon Newcomb.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 8.Nov.2017. Web. Nov.27.2017.
 “Worst Predictions.” Human Science. Wikia. Web. Nov.27.2017.
 “Irving Fisher.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 16. Nov.2017. Web. Nov.27.2017.
 “The Beatles Decca Audtion.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 7.July.2017. Web. Nov.27.2017.
 Hual, Jeff. “How Will You Keep Christmas This Year? (Part 4).” Mockingbird Ministries (MBird). 18. Dec.2009. Web. Nov.27.2017.
 Hual, Jeff. “How Will You Keep Christmas This Year? (Part 4).”
 Psalm 22:16, 17
 Isaiah 7:14.
 Isaiah 11:1
 Micah 5:2.
 Malachi 4:5-6.
 Luke 1:17.
 Mark 13:32.
 Zingale, Tim. “Hope, Waiting, Anticipation, and Longing.” Sermon Central. 3. Dec.2002. Web. Nov.27.2017.
 Matthew 28:20.
 Mark 13:35-36.
 Based on section of Zingale’s sermon.