December 23 in Advent

(If this day is the Fourth Sunday in Advent, please refer to that day

in the list of devotions.)

Isaiah 51:1-23

Look to the Rock

Here is a chapter for the ages, one of hope and salvation.  It is fitting that these closing chapters of Advent should close with shouts of joy over our God and His Servant, for He is the God who saves.

The beginning of the chapter tells us to “look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug.”  Then Isaiah speaks of Abraham and Sarah and how the Lord multiplied their number into a great nation (Israel).  As Christians we should also look to the rock from which we were hewn. Certainly we too are children of Abraham according to the promise (Galatians 3:29).  But we look to a better Rock, Jesus Christ (Romans 9:33, 1 Corinthians 10:4).  He, himself, is the Word of God (John 1:1), and it is upon this word that the Church is founded.  Isaiah declares, “The heavens vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment … but my salvation will be forever, and my righteousness will never be dismayed.”  Thus, it is the Lord to whom the Christian looks.  He is our peace, our righteousness, our word, our hope.  Men may do terrible things to us, but we are reminded that the Lord “cut Rahab [ancient Egypt] in pieces,” “pierced the dragon,” and “dried up the sea.”  As Christians, we would say that he is the Lord who came down from heaven, was made man, lived our life yet without sin, gave himself for us on the cross, and was raised for our justification that we too may rise one day, and who will one day come again to judge the living and the dead.  This is our “Rock from which we were hewn,” and we will never trade this Rock for another.

Verse twelve and following turns to comfort.  Yes, God’s people are often bowed down and despised.  Those in Muslim and Communist lands especially know this.  There are times when we stagger and faint.  Trials have a way of breaking us sometimes – and that’s not always a bad thing.  But the Lord promises to change such misfortunes: The Lord “pleads the cause of his people: ‘Behold I have taken from your hand the cup of staggering; the bowl of my wrath you shall drink no more; and I will put it into the hand of your tormentors.’”  In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul commends the church which “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1:9-10, emphases added). This is the task of the believer – to wait for his Son from heaven, who delivers us from the wrath to come.  Allow this waiting for his coming (his second advent) to encourage you during trial and prepare you for heaven.

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