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Daily Devotion for December 3, 2012
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
His wings as drifted snow, his eyes as flame;
“All hail,” said he, “thou lowly maiden Mary,
Most highly favored lady,” Gloria!
“For know a blessèd mother thou shalt be,
All generations laud and honor thee,
Thy Son shall be Emmanuel, by seers foretold,
Most highly favored lady,” Gloria!
Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head,
“To me be as it pleaseth God,” she said,
“My soul shall laud and magnify His holy Name.”
Most highly favored lady, Gloria!
Of her, Emmanuel, the Christ, was born
In Bethlehem, all on a Christmas morn,
And Christian folk throughout the world will ever say—
“Most highly favored lady,” Gloria!
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this life, in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; So that, at the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal.
Prayer of Praise (from Psalm 86)
Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications. In the day of my trouble I will call upon you: for you will answer me.
Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord; and no works like those you have done. All nations whom you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; and will glorify your name.
For you are great, and do wondrous things: you are God alone.
Teach me your way, Lord, and I will walk in your truth: unite my heart to fear your name. I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify your name forever.
Now to Him who has given me grace in accordance with His gospel, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for many ages past, but now revealed and made known by the command of the eternal God, so that all mankind might find the obedience that comes from faith; to the only God, the God of wisdom and truth, be glory forever through His only son, Jesus Christ.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
“Christmas has lost its meaning for us because we have lost the spirit of expectancy. We cannot prepare for an observance. We must prepare for an experience.”
~ Handel Brown
The Young Woman is with Child
Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying, Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.
Then Isaiah said: "Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel."
Notes on the Scripture
Ahaz, a descendant of David, was the King of Judah. He reigned from roughly 735 BC to 715 BC. I would say he was king "during a difficult period", but pretty much the entire history of Israel is a difficult period, in one way or another.
When Isaiah was active, Judah and Israel were separate kingdoms and, during Ahaz's reign, at odds with each other. Ahaz was a wicked and even idolatrous king, and the King of Israel (Pekah) was not much better. For example, Ahaz made his son walk through the fire of Moloch, a god who was generally a large statue with an oven in his belly; often, infants were sacrificed in Moloch by being roasted alive.
Both of them made foreign alliances to fight each other, resulting in the occupation of Israel and the subjection of Judah to Assyria. Ahaz repeatedly ignored the counsel of major prophets: Hosea and Micah, as well as Isaiah. The Bible teaches a causal connection between the idolatry of Judah and its decline and subjugation under Azaz, and nobody is more outspoken about the connection than Isaiah.
But the importance of today's Scripture lies not so much in Ahaz ignoring yet another warning from Isaiah — indeed, he does not follow direct instructions from God Himself, who spoke directly to him.
Rather, Isaiah looks past the coming destruction of Israel and Judah to a time when a child will be born to a woman, a child called Immanuel. Immanuel is not so much a name as a title, because in Hebrew it means "God with us". (Technically, Immanuel would be called a "theophoric" name, that is, a name that embodies the name of God or name of a god. Christopher, which means "bearer of Christ", is a well-known Christian theophoric name; Apollonia would theophoric from the Greek god Apollo.)
Thus, Isaiah here predicts Christmas itself. The word for "woman", translated here as "young woman", causes constant conflict among Bible scholars, for it can easily be translated "maiden" or "virgin", but might also be applied to a young wife. So the King James Bible reads, " Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, . . ."
But we should never lose sight of the irreducible, profound, and mystical truth of Isaiah's prophecy. He foretells, 700 years before the fact, that a child will embody God, a child born to a woman, and will become the salvation of God's people.