Isaiah 40:1-11 (ESV)
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins. A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” A voice says, “Cry!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the LORD blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!” Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.
This week, the Second week of Advent, the theme is Peace. This passage from Isaiah, after some that we saw last week, is certainly comforting. It is also the passage referred to frequently in the New Testament. St John the Baptist was the one prophesied about: Luke 3:4 (ESV) As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’” He was the cousin of Jesus, and when Mary visited Elizabeth John leapt in her womb as Mary approached, because she was carrying Jesus in hers. John was filled with the Holy Spirit even in the womb, which is pretty amazing.
John would announce to all who would listen of the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah. The Lord GOD in human flesh. Unfortunately, many did not listen. Some probably thought he was speaking craziness. Some probably thought it was just metaphorical. After all, he was nuts. Living in the desert, eating locusts and wild honey, and wearing clothing made of camel hair, can he even be sane, let alone know anything about the Messiah?
That seems to be the way God operates, though. He picks unlikely people to do unlikely things, to see who will believe.
How will you prepare your heart to welcome Jesus at Christmas? As Christians, yes we actually have Jesus with us all the time. But Advent gives us a time to reflect on the time when the world did not have Him, and we were living in darkness. We need to think about the fact that we have Jesus and yet we sin.
It is time to turn from our wicked ways, and return to our first love. Return to Jesus. So use this time of Advent to focus on the coming of Christ. When He first came to Israel. That He will and does dwell in our hearts when we repent of our sin. And that He will come again, soon, to take us all with Him, as He promised His disciples.
by Virgil Stripes