Isaiah 9:2–7 (NRSV)
Verse 2The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness- on them light has shined. Verse 3You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder. Verse 4For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. Verse 5For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire. Verse 6For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Verse 7His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
In these final days of Advent we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus our Savior. Perhaps more than in some years we may identify just a bit more with the prophet’s talk of walking in deep darkness and longing to see some light at the end of the tunnel. We are ready to hear in a new key the prophet’s announcement of the birth of God’s promised Messiah.
Even so it is good to be reminded that the people of Israel heard these words while they were still threatened by captivity and exile. How ready were they to really believe that the simple birth of a child could be the way of God’s deliverance and salvation?
We, too, in this season need to hear again those words of promise—words of hope for God’s Messiah, a Prince of Peace, who will come as an agent of justice and righteousness to a world so longing and ready for such good news. We also need to hear the prophet’s final promissory reminder that this birth is not ours to control. It is a call to faith and trust: “The Lord of hosts will do this.”
God of promise, as we await your coming in this Advent season, help us to hear your words of hope in the gift of your Messiah with power to transform our world in the ways of peace, justice, and righteousness. Amen.