This last week of Advent is the week of Love!
Awake! Awake, Tziyon!
Clothe yourself with your strength!
Dress in your splendid garments,
Yerushalayim, the holy city!
For the uncircumcised and the unclean
will enter you no more.
Shake off the dust! Arise!
Be enthroned, Yerushalayim!
Loosen the chains on your neck,
captive daughter of Tziyon!
For thus says Adonai:
“You were sold for nothing,
and you will be redeemed without money.”
For thus says Adonai Elohim:
“Long ago my people went down to Egypt
to live there as aliens,
and Ashur oppressed them for no reason.
So now, what should I do here,” asks Adonai,
“since my people were carried off for nothing?
Their oppressors are howling,” says Adonai,
“and my name is always being insulted, daily.
Therefore my people will know my name;
therefore on that day they will know
that I, the one speaking — here I am!”
How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of him who brings good news,
proclaiming shalom, bringing good news
of good things, announcing salvation
and saying to Tziyon, “Your God is King!”
Listen! Your watchmen are raising their voices,
shouting for joy together.
For they will see, before their own eyes,
Adonai returning to Tziyon.
Break out into joy! Sing together,Isaiah 52:1-10 (CJB)
you ruins of Yerushalayim!
For Adonai has comforted his people,
he has redeemed Yerushalayim!
Adonai has bared his holy arm
in the sight of every nation,
and all the ends of the earth will see
the salvation of our God.
Who believes our report?
To whom is the arm of Adonai revealed?
For before him he grew up like a young plant,
like a root out of dry ground.
He was not well-formed or especially handsome;
we saw him, but his appearance did not attract us.
People despised and avoided him,
a man of pains, well acquainted with illness.
Like someone from whom people turn their faces,
he was despised; we did not value him.
In fact, it was our diseases he bore,
our pains from which he suffered;
yet we regarded him as punished,
stricken and afflicted by God.
But he was wounded because of our crimes,
crushed because of our sins;
the disciplining that makes us whole fell on him,
and by his bruises we are healed.
We all, like sheep, went astray;
we turned, each one, to his own way;
yet Adonai laid on him
the guilt of all of us.
Though mistreated, he was submissive —
he did not open his mouth.
Like a lamb led to be slaughtered,
like a sheep silent before its shearers,
he did not open his mouth.
After forcible arrest and sentencing,
he was taken away;
and none of his generation protested
his being cut off from the land of the living
for the crimes of my people,
who deserved the punishment themselves.
He was given a grave among the wicked;
in his death he was with a rich man.
Although he had done no violenceIsaiah 53:1-12 (CJB)
and had said nothing deceptive,
yet it pleased Adonai to crush him with illness,
to see if he would present himself as a guilt offering.
If he does, he will see his offspring;
and he will prolong his days;
and at his hand Adonai’s desire
will be accomplished.
After this ordeal, he will see satisfaction.
“By his knowing [pain and sacrifice],
my righteous servant makes many righteous;
it is for their sins that he suffers.
Therefore I will assign him a share with the great,
he will divide the spoil with the mighty,
for having exposed himself to death
and being counted among the sinners,
while actually bearing the sin of many
and interceding for the offenders.”
“Arise, shine [Yerushalayim],Isaiah 60:1-3 (CJB)
for your light has come,
the glory of Adonai
has risen over you.
For although darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness the peoples;
on you Adonai will rise;
over you will be seen his glory.
Nations will go toward your light
and kings toward your shining splendor.
Israel was waiting for a Messiah. He had been promised and they spent centuries trying to hold on to that hope. What they awaited was a king. Someone who would come in power to redeem His people. Someone who would make the nations tremble. What they got was a baby.
God often works in this way. When His people need Him, He sends a baby. He sent Moses and protected him in a basket in a river. He sent Joseph, born as a twerpy younger brother. He sent David, the little shepherd boy with the courage to face lions, bears, and giants. But I’m still not sure that is what Israel expected.
This December is like all the others before it. It is dark. It is too busy. It feels like a lot of pressure. There doesn’t seem to be anything special about this December. It is all so ordinary. Maybe it feels a little weird because the world seems to have halted and flipped upside down on us. But for the most part—this is just December. The tree, the lights, the songs—it can all start to feel very ho-hum. It can all start to feel less than magical. And that’s okay. Because God sent a Baby instead of an army. He chose Bethlehem as His hometown. He chose a poor family. He chose a manger. That all seems a little… less-than. Jesus comes in the ordinariness of time and space. He comes to a poor family in a stable. He comes to us in this ordinary December.
Right now, it may look dark, but the glory of God will arise. We will see His Light. The Light is coming soon! He came the first time to suffering that bore our shame and guilt and redeemed us from the darkness. He is coming again to make all things new. Today, ready your heart. Is your heart ready to see Him in the clouds? Are you ready for the night to end? The Son will soon arise—be ready.
Today’s Song: Here with Us by Joy Williams