In the beginning when God created humankind, we walked with Him in the Garden. We were made in his image and yet were not like Him. We were (and are) finite and He was (and is) infinite. He offered us everything He had made and allowed us the opportunity to name all the animals and yet the one thing He asked of us, we could not honor and in an instant everything changed. We were separated from Him in ways we could not fully fathom even though God was still there. If we had not really “gotten” Him before that day with the serpent, we really were unclear now.
We tried to sort it out, tried to be better, but we always failed. Even when God met Moses on the mountaintop and gave Him “the law” and how to live, we could not do it. Those first 10 became many others about how to do just about everything and ways to make atonement for when we sinned. Priests tried to hold us accountable, but they were human and fallible and often failed us. How could we ever sort it out?
As we multipiled over the earth, those of us believed to be God’s special chosen people from the seed of Abraham interacted with others who did not know Him even a little bit. These peoples had rulers over them they could see and appeal to who they called kings. Since we couldn’t see God, we asked for a king also and that first king, Saul, turned out to be a big disappointment. When David took over, he was a “man after God’s own heart,” and yet despite all he did well and his love of God, he couldn’t make a way for us to get reconnected with God either.
We were lost. We tried a lot of things like creating gods out of wood, stone, and precious metals and made up rituals to worship them. But that didn’t work. The harder we tried to reconnect what we once had with God, the farther we got from Him. Sometimes we gave up entirely and stopped looking. Some even cursed Him and said that He didn’t exist and the idea of God loving us was totally absurd.
And then a man came along who heard from God and was called a prophet. His name was Isaiah, and he wrote many things about what were to happen, some in his own time and some things that were not to happen for centuries. He wrote something unlike what we could have imagined would happen that would make it possible to finally know what God was like and would reveal himself to us in ways that had never occurred previously. In the seventh chapter of his long book that became a major part of the Bible we have today, he began to tell us.
“The Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold—the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and will name him God Among Us.”Isaiah 7:14 (TPT)
Still, we wondered what that could mean or how could that possibly happen. But the words were passed down generation after generation and Isaiah’s many words continued to give us clues and were ultimately written down on scrolls that were preserved and protected and then in 1947, by an accident of a shepherd boy throwing a rock into a cave, we found the scrolls. Great scholars authenticated them and read them again and again in wonder.
“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.
7 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.”Isaiah 9:6-7 (NIV)
Another prophet, Micah, told us where this child would be born and in the hard times humankind knew and even though they continued to fail, the hope of this prophesied miracle remained in the hearts of those who believed.
We (all these centuries later) often miss this about the season we call Christmas. This coming was one of the great Gifts of Christmas – Revelation. God wanted us to know Him and reconnect with Him as we never had. So, He did the one thing He believed we would finally “get.” He became one of us. God put on flesh so we could see what He was like.
Jesus was God in human flesh with fingers and toes, wants and needs, emotions and ideas, words and song. And many then (and now) still missed this glorious thing. They hoped for a king like the earthly kings they knew. How could a helpless infant be sent by God and still be God. How could that be?
What a mystery!
God is so beyond us and yet through this miracle of his choice to take on flesh, we now have a way to reconnect with Him. We can see if we choose to do so that his love and care for us is beyond what we could have known before this decision.
Isaiah clarified that for us as well, late in the book that would be named after him in the Bible:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)
God loves us so much that He didn’t want us to miss Him. He wanted us to know Him, and He wanted to know what it meant to be human and so we had and have the season of Advent to honor that coming foretold by Isaiah. When we read the accounts of his birth and life in the gospels in the New Testament of the Bible, we must not forget that He came to reveal who He was to us. If we only see the story in a single dimension, we miss the grander story.
The Gifts of Christmas – Revelation! We are more often reminded of that during this season when we celebrate Advent and at Easter when we celebrate his resurrection, but He wants to reveal himself to us every day, any day, not just on these days when our attention is drawn to this gift. He also wants us to remember that the story, his story doesn’t end there.
Isaiah reminds us (again) to look beyond the manger and the cross to another Advent, a time when He come on the earth again (in a different form than the first time).
6 The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
and a little child will lead them.
7 The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
8 The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.
9 They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
10 In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious.Isaiah 11:6-10 (NIV)
Our pastor reminded us in a recent message that if Isaiah was so much on target with pointing us to the Advent we celebrate now, should we not be anticipating the way he points to the second Advent yet to come.
Revelation – what a great gift of Christmas we can open at this very moment!