31 December 2017 – 6 January 2018.
When Isaiah looked at the world around him, he wasn’t happy. On all sides, there were disasters, suffering, and evil. Empires were going to war, the strong ruled, the weak were oppressed, and even the Israelites – who were supposed to be good, and supposed to represent God’s good rule in the world – had turned away from God and instead become just as sinful, corrupt, and evil as everyone else.
Isaiah knows that this isn’t the way things are supposed to be. God created the world for goodness and blessing, not for violence and hate. God created us to love and follow him, not to do evil. So how did everything go so wrong? And more importantly, how do we fix it?
Isaiah knows that our hands by themselves are too weak to change the world or to change people’s sinful hearts. So in chapter 64, Isaiah cries out to God in despair but also in hope. “Oh, God, if only you would burst out from the heavens and come down to us here!” Isaiah feels that if only God would personally come be with us, then the whole world would finally get put back in order. Finally nations and peoples would leave the wrong path that they are on and do what’s right. If God left heaven to come and be here with us, we sinners would leave behind our evil ways and finally turn to God. That’s the deep hope that fills Isaiah’s cry to God.
But is this too much to hope for? Would the great and almighty God really listen to such a prayer? Would the eternal and holy God really be willing to humble himself so much as to leave behind the glory of heaven and come and live here on earth? Isaiah earnestly prayed those words, but I wonder if he really expected his prayer to be answered. Maybe Isaiah felt it was really too much to hope for.
But it wasn’t too much at all. Because in Jesus Christ that is exactly what God did. God did set aside his glory, set aside his power, in order to come down to our level. He became an ordinary human being just like us, and he lived together with us. That’s what we celebrate in this Christmas season: that the wait for God to come is finally over. In Jesus, God himself really did burst from the heavens and come to be with us. And because he came, he changed our world and he changed our lives forever. Our waiting is finally over, because in Jesus Isaiah’s hope – and our hopes too – finally came true.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis