Daily Devotion for December 7, 2014
Second Sunday in Advent
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.
Our “Virtual Sunday Church” this week takes us to a Mennonite service in Ohio. If you like to sing harmony, here’s your chance!
Call to Sunday Worship
O Lord, I beseech you mercifully to hear my prayers, and the prayers of all your people who call upon you; and grant that we may both perceive and know what things we ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfill them; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Thanks for Christ’s Birth
God of every nation and people, from the beginning of Creation you have made known your love through the gift of your Son, who bears the name Emmanuel, “God with Us.” In the fullness of time the Christ-child came to be the Good News to all who would receive him.
Grant that I may remember every day the blessing that this season represents, to me personally and to all Christians throughout the world; and especially, to those who have not yet received the Word, but may find Christ in the future. Thank you, Lord, for your great blessing to us all.
Sunday Prayer of Praise to God's Glory
Heavenly God, you are the King eternal, immortal and invisible. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God; the same yesterday, today, and forever.
In times long past did you lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands: Yet they will perish, but you will endure; yes, all of them will grow old like a garment, as a coat you will change them, and they will be changed; but you are the same, and your years will have no end.
You alone are God, and do not change; and because of this, we may hope to be preserved. Are you not from eternity, O Lord our God, our Holy One? The everlasting God, even the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, who does not faint nor grow weary? There is no searching out your understanding, mighty Lord, but by our praise we may glorify your Holy Name, now and all our lives.
[God alone does not change.]
Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever.
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.
Psalm 135:5-7 (ESV)
For I know that the Lord is great,
and that our Lord is above all gods.
Whatever the Lord pleases, he does,
in heaven and on earth,
in the seas and all deeps.
He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth,
who makes lightnings for the rain
and brings forth the wind from his storehouses.
He Will Swallow Up Death
On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
And he will swallow up on this mountain
the covering that is cast over all peoples,
the veil that is spread over all nations.
He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
This is the Lord; we have waited for him;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
Notes on the Scripture
We are in the season of feasting. Most of us spend the weeks from Thanksgiving through New Years eating lots of great food, and we shouldn't be surprised to learn that we didn't invent the idea. The idea of combining a celebration with a great meal extends until the earliest days of history, and most likely, before.
We certainly see lots of feasting in the Bible. But Isaiah, of course, is a prophet and a poet, and when he mentions the feast that God will prepare in today's Scripture, he means it to symbolize a specific idea: Salvation. And not just Isaiah; the greatest feast in Christian life is the Lord’s Supper, or Communion, or Holy Eucharist — despite their differences, just about every denomination celebrates the Last Supper, because Christ commanded us to do so.
ut Isaiah’s feast is not in an upper room, but on a mountain; and it is not real, but a prophecy, a vision. Mountains in general tend to symbolize power, or nations, in the Old Testament, and without doubt Isaiah means to invoke Jerusalem specifically in this passage. The city itself was and is, geographically, on a mountain. But Isaiah is not looking to the old Jerusalem, but to a new Jerusalem, a city that will exist only when God’s Kingdom is fulfilled. Revelation specifically echoes this vision of Isaiah's: “And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, . . .” (Rev. 21:10)
One characteristic of mountains that we learn quickly enough: it's hard to climb up to the top. The mountain of God's feast is even worse; it is impossible to climb. We cannot get there using our own power. Notice that in the cite from Revelation, the speaker is carried by a Spirit. Just so, we cannot attain salvation using our own power. It is only the grace and forgiveness of Christ that will enable us to reach the top.
Isaiah, more than any of the other prophets, predicted the coming of Christ, and prophesied much about his birth. Other prophets, as well, predicted the birth of Christ, and it is to these prophecies that we often look during Advent. But Isaiah looks much farther ahead in this passage, to the day when Christ's sacrifice and resurrection should be fulfilled by His return. For this is the Holy City of the Kingdom of God, where Christ will prove his victory over death.
It is a prophecy that is still prophetic for us, as it describes our future. It hearkens to our promise and hope, that death will be swallowed up forever. There is a direct connection between this ancient old man, who lived around 700 B.C., and the last book in the Bible. They even use the same language and imagery. “[A]nd the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,” Isaiah promises. And how does Revelation describe the ultimate end of time for us? “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, . . . He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more. . .” (Rev. 21:2-4)
So let us prepare our Christmas feast with every joy and hope for eternal happiness.