Worth the Wait - Advent Scriptures and Devotion for December 6

          I pray that your consideration of God‚Äôs sacred Scripture has filled your preparations with purpose, and your waiting with wonder and amazement. As you read today‚Äôs selections, reflect on the change that the Lord has brought in your life. What in your life has been reversed because of your faith in Christ? Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17, ‚ÄúTherefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!‚Äù As you will see from today‚Äôs readings, God is amazing at transformations!

Isaiah 29:17-24

          In a very short time, will not Lebanon be turned into a fertile field and the fertile field seem like a forest? 18 In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll, and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see. 19 Once more the humble will rejoice in the Lord; the needy will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. 20 The ruthless will vanish, the mockers will disappear, and all who have an eye for evil will be cut down‚Äî21 those who with a word make someone out to be guilty,    who ensnare the defender in court and with false testimony deprive the innocent of justice. 22 Therefore this is what the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, says to the descendants of Jacob: ‚ÄúNo longer will Jacob be ashamed; no longer will their faces grow pale. 23 When they see among them their children, the work of my hands, they will keep my name holy; they will acknowledge the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob, and will stand in awe of the God of Israel. 24 Those who are wayward in spirit will gain understanding; those who complain will accept instruction.‚Äù

Isaiah 29 begins with a series of strong warnings or “woes” to the city of Jerusalem (Ariel means Jerusalem). Heartless worship seems to be a central issue in God’s coming judgment on Jerusalem. Verses 1-10 read like a news report of what would occur in Jerusalem in a little over a century. In 586 BC, the Babylonians would destroy the Holy City. Another application of this prophecy occurred in 70 AD when the Romans repeated the destruction of the Holy City. This prophecy of “woe” has implications for both periods.

Why would God be so dissatisfied with His chosen people? The Lord says, These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught. (Isaiah 29:13). The Lord’s indictment continues in verse 16. He declares, You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, “You did not make me”? Can the pot say to the potter, “You know nothing”? God claims that His people “turn things upside down.” So, His judgment upon them will take on this very form. There will be an amazing reversal as God transforms what is into what isn’t, and what isn’t into what is!

          In verses 17 through 24 we see that, ‚Äúin a short time,‚Äù everything will be turned on its head! Lebanon, known as a forest region would become a fertile field and the fertile field will become like a garden. The deaf will hear and the blind will see. The humble will rejoice in the Lord, but the notorious connivers and criminals will disappear. All who do evil, and who cut others down with their false testimony will be cut down themselves!  Clearly, God is transforming things from a state of evil to a state of holiness. When this happens, Jacob will no longer be ashamed of his descendents. God‚Äôs holy name will be revered again, those who have strayed will be renewed, and the complainers will learn the Truth.

          When Jesus comes, some 700 years later, this is exactly what will transpire. He ushers in an era replete with reversals. The Old way will become the New way. The Old Covenant will become the New Covenant. The darkness will become light. The lost will be found. The humble will be exalted. The meek shall inherit the earth. This pattern of turning everything on its ear reaches a climax in the atoning work of Jesus. It is Jesus who conquers political power with self-sacrificial love. It is Jesus who by submitting to death opens the way to eternal life! It is Jesus who demonstrates greatness through servant hood. The Apostle Paul taught that it is when we are slaves to God that we are truly free (Romans 6:22, 1 Corinthians 7:22). It was Jesus who equated Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female! This was a scandal! It was all new!! What Isaiah prophesied some seven centuries before Jesus‚Äô birth was beautifully and perfectly fulfilled in Him. This is true historically. And this is true for each of us personally. God has made the old things new in our lives. He has transformed us! ‚ÄúIn a short time,‚Äù just 19 days from now, we will celebrate that God became a man ‚Äì a King who is also a baby ‚Äì the creator of mankind who holds us in His hands, held in His mother‚Äôs loving embrace - the author of the world encased in the vulnerable soft skin of a newborn! Sure does seem like everything is turned upside down!

          Isaiah said all of this would happen, ‚Äúin a short time.‚Äù This was good news for the faithful. But, it would require patience. As the Hebrew people waited for the Promised One, the Messiah, they had to trust God and His timing.

Psalm 27:1, 4, 13-14

 

          The Lord is my light and my salvation‚Äîwhom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life‚Äîof whom shall I be afraid? 4 One thing I ask from the Lord,    this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. 13 I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. 14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

          Psalm 27 reveals the psalmists abiding faith and trust in God. For him, the Lord is his light and his salvation. For us, light and salvation refer to Jesus. Jesus said, ‚ÄúI am the light of the world‚Äù (John 8:12). Paul wrote, ‚ÄúFor God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ‚Äù (1 Thessalonians 5:9). For us, ‚ÄúJesus is our light and our salvation!‚Äù The psalmist declares that the Lord is His refuge and because of this, he does not have to fear. Jesus said, ‚ÄúPeace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid‚Äù (John 14:27). For the psalmist, spending time in the Temple and experiencing the Presence of the Lord was a great aspiration. For us, we are now the temple, and the Presence of the Lord is with us continually (1 Corinthians 6:19). Finally, the psalmist reminds us to wait for the Lord courageously. With the Incarnation occurring two thousand years ago, what are we waiting for? We are waiting to celebrate the historical reality of the Incarnation, and the undeniable inevitability of Jesus‚Äô second coming! It will come to pass, ‚Äúin a short time.‚Äù

Matthew 9:27-31

          As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, ‚ÄúHave mercy on us, Son of David!‚Äù 28 When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, ‚ÄúDo you believe that I am able to do this?‚Äù ‚ÄúYes, Lord,‚Äù they replied. 29 Then he touched their eyes and said, ‚ÄúAccording to your faith let it be done to you‚Äù; 30 and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, ‚ÄúSee that no one knows about this.‚Äù 31 But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region.

          Matthew 9 shows us again that Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 29:18. ‚ÄúIn that day‚Ķthe blind will see.‚Äù Two blind men follow Jesus and cry out to Him, ‚ÄúSon of David, have mercy on us.‚Äù This desperate cry indicated their belief that Jesus was the Messiah, the Promised One who would come from David‚Äôs royal lineage (1 Kings 9:5) and would show great mercy (Psalm 72:12-13). After they had gone indoors, Jesus asked the men if they believed He could heal them. Their response speaks again to their belief that Jesus was the Promised One. Undoubtedly, they knew that the Anointed One, when He came, would accomplish miraculous healings. Jesus touched these men and healed them according to their faith. It is important to note the place that faith plays in this healing. In the grander scheme, the New Covenant people of God would be a people of faith. The operation of God‚Äôs grace must be met with man‚Äôs faith for true spiritual healing to take place. It is the kind of faith we read about in Psalm 27. After Jesus heals them, He then warned them not to tell anyone! As in other instances, Jesus resisted accolades from the people. His hour had not yet come. He did not want them to attempt to make Him King by force. All of this would happen as God desired, ‚Äúin a short time.‚Äù Sadly, these men, in their exuberance, went out and shared their news. Before we think too harshly of these men, consider this. We have no such prohibition on our sharing. And yet, I wonder how many of us take the opportunity. Again, things seem to be turned upside down.


          Our deliberations today have shown that our Lord is a God of transformations. He turns conventional wisdom on its head. He shocks us and surprises us. Ultimately, all of us must come to Him in humble faith, so that he can open our eyes to the spiritual realities. God‚Äôs providential plan will come to pass,


“in a short time."
May the Lord bless you and keep you through these days of waiting on the appearing of His dear Son.

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