Daily Devotion for December 9, 2016
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.
Oh Lord Jesus, I come to you this morning, in this season of waiting for the feast of your birth, to ask your blessing on myself and all those in the world who wait for you. We wait now for your return, as the Jews of old waited for their Messiah; yet now we have the Holy Spirit to comfort us. But we know that Christmas will come, just as the prophets knew that you would come in the flesh; and we know that you will come, in clouds of glory to judge the living and the dead, and to take your faithful with you to a place where no tear will be shed.
We are like children waiting for their presents, sometimes. Help us not to be impatient, Lord Christ, but to wait as you have told us, showing the fruits of the spirit in every thought and work: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. And let us always have complete confidence in your return. Come Lord Jesus.
For Understanding Truth
Lord God, let me not put my trust in the words of men, for their minds are weak and their tongues are tainted by the world; but let me test everything having to do with faith against our only true teacher, Jesus Christ, and the true Word of God that was inspired through the Holy Spirit.
As we go forth into the world, Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness and put on the armor of light, celebrating the time when 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.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Today’s “Remember the Bible” Question
Is there a Bible verse that tells us not to worry too much if someone does not want to hear about Christ, i.e. that we should just walk away and forget about it?
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
After reading a couple of the baleful prophecies, concerning the terrible wrath God will bring some day upon the world (such as yesterday's), it is a relief to get into the wonderful, thankful prophecies of Christ and the salvation and joy He will bring.
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. It is 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: 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.