Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Christmas in Isaiah- The Lifetime Perspective

The prophet, Isaiah, was married with children. His name means- "The Lord Saves". The backdrop of his life is found in II Kings 15-20.

His book is a compilation of his God given messages from 740-700 BC. Most scholars believe he was a resident of Jerusalem and a prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah. He was in the royal family, proclaimed a faithful message, and (according to many sources) was martyred by being sawn in two!
 The 66 chapters encapsulate 40 years of hard and faithful service to God.

'Christmas' is a compilation of years of memories- they are milestones.
  I find it interesting that prisoners often think of their incarceration in terms of 'Christmases missed'.
We all tend to mark this season as special.

Oh the memories of Christmas! My mom and dad and brothers and family. The excitement of trees and gifts, pajamas and hot chocolate!

But there are hard memories too. 

My first sad memory of Christmas involved the story of 'The Little Match Girl'- I remember my mom thinking it was important for me to know that story. 
And the sadness around Christmas is always the loss of loved ones- growing old… past the magic- the knowledge of people who are poor, hungry, lonely, and cold- and watching your kids grow up way too fast. Oh I miss the magic of the 'little years' with them.

There was a sadness to Isaiah's life and his message had dark truth in it.

God gave the prophet a very hard task:
Is 6: 9 And he said, “Go, and say to this people:
“‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand;
keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’

10 Make the heart of this people dull,
and their ears heavy,
and blind their eyes;
lest they see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”

11 Then I said, “How long, O Lord?”

And he said:
“Until cities lie waste
without inhabitant,
and houses without people,
and the land is a desolate waste,
12 and the Lord removes people far away,
and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.

13 And though a tenth remain in it,
it will be burned again,
like a terebinth or an oak,
whose stump remains
when it is felled.”

The holy seed is its stump.

Can you imagine?

So what in the world does this have to do with Christmas?

Well, throughout the book... there is hope in the midst of judgment- light in the midst of darkness- and life in the midst of death.

This Book has awesome promises of the Christmas story.
But even the Christmas story is not all candy canes and coca.
The backdrop of Christmas is darkness and human depravity. It is 400 years of silence in a world that seems to have been abandoned by God. But in the midst of despair…behold, a great light!
The Book of Revelation portrays the Christmas story as a cosmic battle! The red dragon waiting to devour the Child in Rev. 12 is stark and violent!

Isaiah had a hard life and hard message. And we know that life can be difficult. But faithful service over time brings great glory to God!

Over the years, we keep marking the hope of a baby… new life and the promise of a great gift.
A baby in a manger… humble and seemingly insignificant… but this is no ordinary child!

Isaiah saw this day, 700 years earlier and held true to his faith.
And now, 2000 years later- we also hold on!

The Christmas story never loses its power to heal, comfort, and offer hope! And you can experience this year after year after year!

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