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Preparing for Christmas (Part 2)




There are so many rich promises in the Old Testament about the coming of Messiah - so many of them are recorded by the prophet Isaiah. Those very prophecies will help us, both today and tomorrow, prepare for Christmas.

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Read Isaiah 7:10-17, 9:1-7

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Excerpt from "The Christmas Chronicles" - Isaiah's story


Isaiah puzzles over the image he has seen in his mind's eye - a virgin giving birth. "Did I see that right?" he queries. "Ah, Sovereign Lord, you know."


The context is the decision to be made my Ahaz, King of Judah, whether to trust earthly powers or entrust himself solely to the care of the Lord God. The Lord invited him to ask for a sign.


Listen, now, to Isaiah's recounting of the rest of the story as he carries on conversation with the Sovereign Lord ...

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... in sheer unbelief, Ahaz refused your invitation. Undaunted, you gave him the sign anyway—and not only to him, but to the whole world.


In my mind’s eye I saw a young woman, a virgin, yet pregnant with child! She gave birth and named her newborn baby boy. Your word, O Lord, welled up with the vision. I spoke it directly into Ahaz’ ears.


“The Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”


A virgin giving birth? Immanuel? “God with us”? Thrilling with the hope of this future birth, I wonder what this vision means. And how will the child’s name play out? Is it that this birth itself will signal your presence, O Lord? Or is it something more? Something filled with greater wonder? Will this child be more than a child? Indeed God? Indeed, with us?


Ahaz didn’t even pause. Wonder eluded him. For him there was only the immediate: the northern kingdom and Syria on one side, the powerhouse of the Assyrians on the other. Ahaz made his choice. He placed hope in Assyria.


I place hope in this birth.


Now filling my mind, I see the outcome of Ahaz’ choice. The Assyrians, once trusted, will turn against your people, O Lord, overwhelming them like a river overflowing its banks. Darkness will descend in distressing and fearful gloom. Your people will be thrust out into that darkness. I see them wandering blindly, oppressed with no light to guide, distressed because their hope is not in you.


But wait! What is this I see? A new hope dawns. A ray of light breaks through. Your word comes to me again, O Lord. I speak it out:


"The people walking in darkness

have seen a great light;

on those living in the land of deep darkness

a light has dawned."


The light grows. Your people are restored. The burden of conquering oppressors is thrown off, joy increases, and weapons of war are destroyed and burned. Who is it that sets your people free? Who is this mighty one? The blur of vision sharpens, bringing into focus this powerful liberator. Yes, I see. There he is before me.


A child.


"For to us a child is born,

to us a son is given,

and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the greatness of his government and peace

there will be no end.

He will reign on David’s throne

and over his kingdom,

establishing and upholding it

with justice and righteousness

from that time on and forever.

The zeal of the Lord Almighty

will accomplish this."


Oh, the wonder!

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Reflect:

Ahaz refused the sign - and refused to trust. We can do differently. Embrace the wonder: salvation comes through the Child! Give thanks afresh. Celebrate the Child, who is our Saviour.

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Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash

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