Several years ago while reading a magazine article, I learned a new word which I haven't yet found in a dictionary: "entomophagy". It sounds and looks like "entomology", which is "a branch of zoology having to do with insects." However, entomophagy isn't the study of insects, but rather the eating of insects. Many animals eat insects. So do some human beings. Although bugs aren't a popular food in our culture, to some people insects like grasshoppers, bees and spiders are an important food source. What seems strange to us is normal to others.
When we hear about John the Baptist, we often focus on unimportant details, such as his strange diet: "His food was locusts and wild honey" (Matthew 3:4). We wouldn't dream of purposely eating insects. Yet when we focus on John's grasshopper-based diet, we lose sight of the truly important detail about him: his message.
Advent is a season of preparation. During Advent we prepare to celebrate Jesus' birth. During Advent we also remember how important it is to be prepared for Jesus' return. When Jesus came to this world, God sent John the Baptist to prepare the way for him. John brought an important message: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."
John the Baptist's message called for a complete change in the lives of his hearers. He called them to repent, to turn away from their sins. Why? Because "the kingdom of heaven is near." Christ was coming soon. Jesus was about to begin his ministry. As God, Jesus rules over heaven and earth. As our Savior, Jesus brought us heaven. Because of our sins and disobedience toward God, we deserved nothing but hell and suffering forever. Yet Jesus, our heavenly King, set aside his glory and took our sins upon himself instead. Jesus suffered and died to pay for those sins, to earn the forgiveness we could never have on our own. Jesus gave up his own sinless life to save our sinful souls from the eternal death we deserve. Through his sacrifice for us, Jesus opened heaven for us and promises us eternal life.
John the Baptist called his listeners to prepare for their coming Savior. He calls us to prepare ourselves too. That call, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near," applies to us today. Jesus promised that he would return soon, to close down this world and to judge all people. In the Bible, God calls us to be ready for that Judgment Day. The Bible urges us to be prepared through faith--by believing God's promise of forgiveness and heaven through Jesus. The Bible also urges us to be prepared through repentance--turning away from our sins, which can destroy our faith in our Savior and King, and which can take us away from heaven.
This Advent season, focus your preparation on Jesus: on his birth in Bethlehem, and on his return on Judgment Day. Be prepared for Jesus' return by reading and studying God's Word regularly, learning what it means to have Christian faith. Put that faith into practice in your life, turning away from sin and turning instead toward your Savior. Jesus came to bring you many blessings. Through faith in God's message, prepare for the day when Jesus returns to bring you God's greatest blessing: heaven.