Friday, December 5, 2014

The Glory Revealed

(Isaiah 40:1-5 NIV) “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. {2} Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.  {3} A voice of one calling in the desert: “Prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. {4} Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. {5} And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

The first humans on earth to see the birth of Jesus were neither the shepherds nor the Magi. The first humans on earth to see the birth of the Messiah were the prophets of the Old Testament. God revealed to them the glory to come.

Even though they viewed it through a glass darkly, their visions were remarkably accurate. They saw the Christ coming to earth for his people and described Him so well that those who followed had little excuse for missing Him.

Isaiah looked into Christmas future and saw the coming of the Comforter. Centuries later, when Handel composed his masterpiece, “The Messiah”, he began with Isaiah’s words: “Comfort Ye My People”. Later when the God man, Jesus, spoke of His departure, He too spoke of a Comforter that was to come -- His promised Holy Spirit.

The picture that is painted for us here is of a God who comes to earth to comfort, not condemn... a God who comes to bring peace, not punishment.

In Isaiah 40, we see the embryo of John’s, “for God so loved the world.” We hear a whisper of “the Word who became flesh and made his dwelling among us”. The prophet calls to us: “prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.”

We desperately need that straight highway. The days leading up to this wilderness known as Christmas are strewn with road hazards to spiritual preparation. The crass commercialism and the frantic stampedes for holiday bargains have created many treacherous and crooked side roads. Millions will be lost in the wilderness of this or that X-Mart.

Christmas parties that serve up the “holiday spirit” and “x-mas cheer” will cause many to swerve to the left and the right -- spiritually and literally. We need the straight way that Isaiah speaks about, for we have spent way too much time in the ditches of life. We have become like a people in the desert, crying out for water even as we bury our heads in the sand of maxed out credit cards. “Are you ready for Christmas” is no longer a spiritual query. In these last days it questions whether or not we have completed our cash cow sacrifices to the gods of Commerce.

We simply must have someone who will straighten the road… someone who will level life out for us. The ups and downs are wearing us out. We need someone to fill our valleys and level our mountains. We need someone who will make the rough places smooth. We need someone to even us out in this roller coaster life of highs and lows. We need the Lord that Isaiah saw.

And so God comes to us. Isaiah caught a glimpse of the glory of the Lord which would be revealed. It would not be seen on an American Idol stage, or on a Super Bowl playing field, or even from a Presidential podium. It would shine forth from a manger in a little backwater town.

“O little town of Bethlehem”… The Light of the world comes and “all mankind will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”  

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