Next week is Christmas!!!
Christmas is a season of hope, of peace, of rejoicing. It’s a season where we are more aware and intentional about serving the needs of those around us and showing loved ones just how much we care.
It’s a season where there is a heightened expectation of the miraculous to occur.
The miraculous arrival of Jesus came during a time of darkness and hopelessness. For about 400 years, not much is recorded in regard to any prophetic words form the Lord. The gap between the Old and New Covenants is a season of essentially silence from God.
Life for God’s people is challenging as the Roman Empire continues to grow and with it, the pressure to abandon their faith and identity in God and to embrace the culture of the world around them. There’s growing pressure to abandon their sovereignty and desire to obey the Lord and to instead surrender it to the rule of the Roman government.
Around 700 years before this took place, God gave prophetic insight through Isaiah that speaks to the world that Isaiah was living in just as much as it did to the time when Jesus was born to fulfill it and it still speaks very clearly today to the world that we find ourselves living in now.
Within the book of Isaiah, we find a back and forth of dark and dreadful warnings about God’s judgment on His people by rising up the nations around them to overtake them as well as encouraging words of God’s coming salvation that would destroy those very same enemies.
It can at times read like a paradox and can even cause us to wonder how it can be the same Lord speaking both.
However, His word clearly reveals His heart and will for His people. He desires to be a safe place of refuge and to provide peace and prosperity for them. He wants to keep away from them all of their enemies who want to destroy them.
However, He won’t force that to happen. It is the choice of His people to either come under that protection that He offers through obedience or to instead reject that protection through disobedience.
The choice for most of His people was a choice to disobey. There was an exception only of a small remnant of His people. When all that God said would happen if they continued to walk in disobedience happened, it caused them to wonder what was happening and to seek out answers from everywhere except the Lord. Conspiracies and false prophesies were running rampant!
Sound familiar today? This prophetic word of the coming Christmas season certainly still rings true a few thousand years after it was spoken as God’s word often does!
11 This is what the Lord says to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people:
12 “Do not call conspiracy
everything this people calls a conspiracy;
do not fear what they fear,
and do not dread it.
13 The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy,
he is the one you are to fear,
he is the one you are to dread.
14 He will be a holy place (or sanctuary);
for both Israel and Judah he will be
a stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.
And for the people of Jerusalem he will be
a trap and a snare.
15 Many of them will stumble;
they will fall and be broken,
they will be snared and captured.”
You see, a stepping stone can serve two purposes. To the one who sees it and stands firmly upon it, it provides strength and a firm place to rise up onto safely away from danger.
To the one who does not see it or the one who just hesitantly and untrustingly steps onto it, it causes them to stumble and fall and can even cause broken bones or far worse.
That same stone or rock can either become a safe place of refuge or a dangerous snare. It’s all up to the person and their view and belief about that rock. That stone or rock is unchanging.
This is how Jesus is to us today.
He is the same Jesus yesterday, today, and forever; unchanging!
To some, He is a firm foundation.
To others, He is a stumbling block.
16 Bind up this testimony of warning
and seal up God’s instruction among my disciples.
17 I will wait for the Lord,
who is hiding his face from the descendants of Jacob.
I will put my trust in him.
18 Here am I, and the children the Lord has given me. We are signs and symbols in Israel from the Lord Almighty, who dwells on Mount Zion.
Who will we choose to allow Jesus to be to us?
Will we trust in Him as our firm foundation?
Will we be a sign that points others to Him?
When darkness seems to surround us and uncertainty rises and fear falls, who will we turn to? Who will we trust? Whose voice will we listen to?
19 When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? 20 Consult God’s instruction and the testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn. 21 Distressed and hungry, they will roam through the land; when they are famished, they will become enraged and, looking upward, will curse their king and their God. 22 Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness.
This is a wise warning for us to heed. When fear begins to rise up, when conspiracies and conflicting stories are spreading, we should stop and consider their sources. We should stop and turn our focus and attention to the Lord and listen to what He is saying and look at what He is doing.
It is the Lord alone that we should desire to cooperate with. We want to spread His good news like the shepherds on the day of Jesus’ birth. We want to be a prophetic people and priests standing in the gap interceding for those around us.
Sure, there may be darkness and fearful gloom around us, but God’s people are able to see beyond the facts around us to a hope-filled future. Even when things were at their darkest throughout God’s word, He was always calling His people back to Him with incredible promises of salvation and deliverance to all who would turn back to Him with all of their hearts, soul, mind, and strength.
In fact, this prophetic word of God goes on to do exactly this!
1 Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—
2 The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
3 You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
when dividing the plunder.
4 For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.
5 Every warrior’s boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.
6 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.
We are now living in the days of that future! There is no more need for gloom even in the darkest of days! A great light has come! The light of the world has pierced through the darkness! No darkness can ever overcome that light again!
We have been given authority to demolish every stronghold of our enemy and power to overcome every foothold that he once had! The yoke of burdens has been shattered! The rod and bar of oppression has been demolished! We are a free people!
We are living in the days of rejoicing, the days of the harvest, the days of collecting the spoils of war and of receiving a seven-fold return of anything that our enemy has been caught stealing from us!
Jesus is the rock – the living stone – a firm foundation! He is either a stepping stone of safety or a stumbling block of harm depending on who we choose for Him to be to us.
1 Peter 2:4-10
4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For in Scripture it says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.”
7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
“The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”
“A stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.”
They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Who here has received the mercy of God?
Who here are the people of God?
You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession!
You have been called out of darkness and into His wonderful light!
You have a job to do this Christmas season!
Declaring the praises of God!
Proclaiming the good news to those still living in darkness!
Just like the shepherds did that Christmas day!
An angel of the Lord appeared to them and told them that they were bringing good news that would cause great joy for all the people. After rushing off and finding Jesus just as the angel told them, they spread the good news to everyone and then returned to the fields praising God for their Savior, their Messiah, their Lord had come.
Jesus has come and He is alive today!
Our great light, our great news, our great joy!
Go out there and share it with all people and right now, let’s give Him all praise!