Scripture: Isaiah 9:6-7; Matthew 1:18-23; John 14:15-30
Do you think hope comes easily? I don’t. Hope blooms most brilliantly in the midst of doubt. It thrives in the lamentable.* We see this throughout the Bible.
Take a look at Isaiah, a man born during the reign of fairly successful–depending on your definition–kings. These successes were short-lived; however, and Assyrian presence and oppression fell heavily on the two kingdoms about the same time Isaiah was called to his position as a prophet of the Lord.
What a time to be called! Israel and Judah, two kingdoms once united by a powerful and all-knowing God with immense riches and supernatural military power. Now they stand in shambles due to lack of hope and obedience. Nonetheless, God is faithful and stands by His covenant with Abraham to bless his descendants (Gen. 12:1-3). In the thick of persecution, God, through Isaiah, tells His people of His plan for grace and glory:
“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace,
On the throne of David and over his kingdom,
To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness
From then on and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.”
The Israelites had a choice to believe and follow the God of their fathers or bow to the presence of fear and defeat. What do you think your reaction would be to the promise of a future everlasting kingdom? A promise made in the middle of the threat of Assyrian captivity?
Fast forward approximately 700 years (700 YEARS!) and the hope of the prophecy is revealed. None of the people who heard Isaiah are even close to being alive. The Israelites experienced various exiles and mistreatment with a few gaps of decent living**, yet still, there were those who hoped. The prophecies of Isaiah were alive in God’s people. “Where is He who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship Him.” (Matt. 2:2) The wise men dropped what they were doing to seek out the foretold King.
Unfortunately, we also see lost hope by the scribes and Pharisees. They’ve lived by the scrolls and rules for so long they have forgotten the hope (and freedom) of a “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, and Prince of Peace.” They lived by the ideology of ‘keep your head down.’ If they merely followed the law, then life was ok. Don’t rock the boat.
Would it be so simple to accept a baby as the living hope of a prophecy long ago spoken?
I, for one, am thankful God is gracious and I live beyond the resurrection.
According to the apostle John, Jesus said, “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
Hallelujah! We have a Helper to keep the hope of Jesus alive in us.
As Jesus prepares His followers for his departure, He assures them, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you…Because I live, you also will live…If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”
Jesus frees us from the bondage of fear. We are adopted into His family. We may live through captivity and persecution, but we can persevere with the truth and power of Christ.
The choice is yours to live in hope. Jesus has made the path clear and open. It’s not always easy, but we have a Helper. He does not promise a perfect life, but He promises an abundant and eternal one.***
May the Advent season remind you He is alive.
Here’s the question you can truthfully and honestly answer because we’re living it now:
Will you choose to put your hope in Christ in the midst of today’s world? Have you forgotten hope, joy, and love because we are constantly bombarded with unsettling politics and hate?
**Half the Old Testament