So, Isaiah says, it’s God’s fault that we have made such a mess of things. If he would just make himself more known, “...open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence...” then we would behave better than we do.
God appeared to have done something like that in the Exodus stories, and it didn’t make much of a difference. Maybe God’s timing was off. The people just weren’t ready for it. After all, they did complain that they didn’t want anything like that to happen again, and would be much happier if God would confine himself to speaking through Moses from now on.
We are reminded, during this season of Advent, that God did open the heavens and come down, not with quaking mountains, but with angels singing across the skies to an audience of a few ignorant shepherds to herald the Christ coming humbly as a baby born in rude circumstances and of doubtful parentage. Why won’t God do it the way we want God to do it?
During the first few Sundays in Advent we give thanks for the birth of Jesus while boldly asking that he come again soon to do it right this time, to come in glorious majesty to judge the living and the dead. I wonder. I wonder if Christ’s second coming will be just as unpredictable as his first? The various apocalyptic writings in scripture describe, in great conflicting detail, what the second coming will be like, and centuries of interpreters have made their living off assuring us of their accuracy. My bet is that they are all wrong.
I wonder if God might be waiting around to see if we will ever learn from what Christ has already taught. How long will it take for us to begin living daily lives more in tune with Christ’s teaching? Maybe, as the rabbis say, if there is ever a single twenty-four hour day in which genuine peace is enjoyed throughout the earth, the Messiah will come. In the meantime it might be prudent, in the words of the theologian Rooster Cogburn, to “prepare to meet your maker,” because the greater probability is that you and I will go to him through the humiliation of death before he comes to us through ripped open heavens in the glorious power of quaking of mountains.