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Daily Devotion for December 13, 2013
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.
One of the highlights of my year is getting to share this monumental work with fellow Christians. (Don't be distracted by the Spanish subtitles - we chose this specific upload because the audio and video quality is superb.)
Personally, I turn the volume WAY up! As in, ALL the way up!
Prayer for the Morning
Blessed are you, Lord God of my salvation, to you be praise and glory forever. As once you ransomed your people from Egypt and led them to freedom in the promised land, so now you have delivered me from the dominion of darkness and brought me into the kingdom of your risen Son.
May I, the fruit of your new creation, rejoice in this new day you have made, and praise you for your mighty acts. Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
To Heal Divisions
Father, may our human family not become separated from you by building barriers of race, culture, class, gender, or beliefs. Inspire us to recognize that we are all made in your image and likeness, so that we may grow in appreciation of all people, and encourage each other to grow, in acceptance and in pride, in who we are and who we are called to be. May we recognize your Son in our midst, and live truly as brothers and sisters. I pray this in the name of Christ, in remembrance of His love for the Samaritan woman at the well.
God of love, Father of all, the darkness that covered the earth has given way to the bright dawn of your Word made flesh. Make me and all who confess your holy name people of this light. Make me faithful to your Word that I may bring your life to the waiting world. Grant this through Christ our Lord.
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.
“I am not alone at all, I thought. I was never alone at all. And that, of course, is the message of Christmas. We are never alone. Not when the night is darkest, the wind coldest, the world seemingly most indifferent. For this is still the time God chooses.”
~ Taylor Caldwell
Isaiah 9:2-7 (ESV)
For Unto Us a Child is Born
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. 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.
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. Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.
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. 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.
Notes on the Scripture
When commentators stretch a bit to see Messianic implications in some of Isaiah's later prophecies (such as in yesterday's devotion), it is, at least in part, because one's reading of Isaiah is informed by this early passage. (Also see Isaiah 7:10-14) Without question, it refers to the coming of God in the person of an incarnate human being.
But to back up a bit, first we should understand the immediate or temporal occasion. When Isaiah was young, the King of Judah was named Ahaz, and the best we can say about him is that he was David's legitimate heir. (He is included in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1:9.) Ahaz was wicked by any standard — he sacrificed his own infant son — but was doubly wicked in Jewish eyes, for he abandoned God's covenant with Moses, allowing all sorts of idolatry to flourish.
The northern breakaway Kingdom of Israel — perhaps even more benighted than Judah, as it did not recognize God's anointed royal line of David — had actually allied itself with a pagan nation-state, Aram, to attack Judah and take Jerusalem. Ahaz, in fear that he might lose his royal city, proposed to ally with Assyria to defeat them.
Remembering our lessons from Exodus, we immediately see that Ahaz transgressed three major commandments of God: Worship of idols (Exodus 20:4-5); sacrificing a first-born son instead of redeeming him (Exodus 13:13); and forming an alliance with a non-covenant people (Exodus 23:31-33).
It is the last of these that occasioned Isaiah 9. Isaiah attempted to persuade Ahaz not to ally with Assyria. Part of his prophecy was dire warnings about the terror to ensue such an alliance; but the part we read today was the positive approach: what Ahaz might expect if he put his entire trust in God.
In the middle of bolstering Ahaz's confidence and faith, Isaiah suddenly seems to spin out into near-insanity, far exceeding the immediate prophecy that Ahaz needed to hear. He gives a prophecy of a future king who will be Yahweh incarnate: The Prince of Peace. (For to predict the coming of a human being who would be called “Mighty God”, unless it were Yahweh, would be anathema to Isaiah, or any other devout Jew.) Isaiah’s prediction of a king who would reign in righteousness “from that time on and forever” denotes immortality; there is no other way to read it.
And thus we have one of the most beautiful and stirring passages of Gospel in the Bible, written over 700 years before Jesus would be born. This miraculous prophecy of Christ's coming, so long in advance, surely is one of the most remarkable, inspired, and heartening passages in the Bible.