Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Post

It must have seemed like a ridiculous promise at the time.

Israel was under siege. The king of Assyria was marshaling his forces for attack. Israel faced the threat of occupation, loss of freedom, destruction of property, and even exile from their land. The people were afraid. And the prophet Isaiah had given them reason to be afraid. They had spurned the way of the Lord, and so the Lord had chosen Assyria to be his punishment of choice. They were coming.

But there was hope. In the midst of this, Isaiah also prophesied that there would be salvation in the midst of judgment. The ones walking in darkness would see a great light. I can imagine how closely the people must have been listening to Isaiah now, how would it happen? How is God going to miraculously deliver his people from the invading barbarians?
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given.

There's a baby. It must have seemed like a ridiculous promise at the time. In the face of their well founded fear of the enemy at the gate, Isaiah was waxing poetic about a baby. Promises like this require faith. No doubt the Israelites would have preferred a squadron or two of battle trained warriors, but instead the promise was a child.

Perhaps the near term fulfillment of this promise referred to Isaiah's own son Shear-Jashub, whose name literally meant "A remnant will return." This was some hope, at least. But the full fulfillment would have to wait much longer.

Again God's messengers would come to his people when they were 'sore afraid.' And again they promised a baby. Singing. Bringing a message of God's salvation that would require a good deal of faith.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.

Merry Christmas, there's a baby.

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