O Come, Emmanuel
An Online Women's Advent Bible Study
This year circumstances limit us in the amount we can gather together, but God's good news just can't be limited! That is why we are going to be doing a Bible study online.
The study we are going to do is called O Come, O Come, Emmanuel: An Advent Study by Lifeway Women. It is a four week study that will end just before Christmas. For six days of the week there is a reading with questions which will take approximately 20 minutes. Once per week there will be some group discussion questions you can fill out online here so we can encourage each other and share what we are learning and wrestling with.
A snippet from the introduction of the study:
“Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.”
This year, we’ve experienced sorrow on a global scale. Perhaps you’re reading these words years after they were originally written, but you no doubt remember the coronavirus pandemic that swept our world into a season of fear, death, and heartache.
Every year, no matter the scale, we all experience sorrow—individually and communally. Every year holds its share of loneliness, hurt, and tragedy—of brokenness. This year, and every year, as the days on our calendar dwindle, our hearts cry out with some of the last words in the Bible, “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20b).
Advent is a season set aside to celebrate that Christ came to us as a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, and to look forward with anticipation to the moment when He will return as our triumphant King. It’s a season to rejoice!
We’ve chosen the hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” as the theme for this Bible study. It’s a song that has been sung by Christ’s followers for more than 150 years. I love the verbs found in the chorus. (Hang with me.) The call to rejoice is present tense.
This is a call to action. Rejoice now, O Israel! Sing praise! Be full of joy! Celebrate!
The second sentence of the chorus is future tense.
“EMMANUEL SHALL COME TO THEE, O ISRAEL” (EMPHASIS ADDED).
These familiar lyrics emphasize the past, the time before Christ’s first coming. They help us remember that Israel, God’s chosen people, once longed for Him to come and rescue them. God’s children have been united by the same heart cry throughout the years, “Come, Lord Jesus!” Come be with us.
While they lived in loneliness, in sorrow, in hurt, in tragedy, in the sheer brokenness of our world, Israel begged God to send a savior. But even as they pleaded for rescue, they rejoiced.
Though it’s a precious piece of church history, this song isn’t Scripture. Though it wasn’t God-breathed, it accurately reflects the stories of God’s people recorded in the Old Testament, as well as the longings of our hearts today.
Israel could rejoice as they cried out for a savior because they believed in the promises of God. Our God is faithful, and we know He will fulfill every word He has spoken. Jesus Christ fulfilled all the promises of God (2 Cor. 1:20). So His people can rejoice in what’s to come.
In the same way, even in seasons of uncertainty when the brokenness of our world weighs heavily upon us, we can rejoice too. We can be a people full of joy even now. Emmanuel will come to us again. We can trust it because He said it. He promised, “Yes, I am coming soon” (Rev. 22:20a).
As we look back at the stable where Jesus arrived that first Christmas, we can rejoice, celebrating another promise kept. As we look forward, longing for the day of Christ’s second coming, we can celebrate with singing. Though we mourn in lonely exile here, we celebrate with great hope that the Son of God will soon appear.
Now, and always, “Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.”
Are you in?
If so, here is how to participate:
For $10 (USD) you can buy the e-book here or if you want a hard copy you could also buy one here for $14 (CD). (If you want a hard copy we can supply you with photocopies of the book while you wait for your hard copy to arrive).
Read each day's reading and answer the questions (about 20 minutes).
Once per week, log onto our discussion forum and write some of your answers (about another 10 minutes). If participating in an online discussion forum is not your thing, no sweat! You can still participate! You can call someone else who is participating in the study and discuss the group questions together instead.