Barrenness had been Sarah’s identity for all her married life. When God repeated his promise to Abraham over the years, she surely felt persecuted. His plan for Abraham—and the rather lengthy timeline–highlighted her shame and failure. Then she made a mess of things by bringing Hagar into the picture.
Where I see the most obvious parallel between Isaiah’s prophecies and the modern church is what we’re willing to call worship. Too often, church membership and attendance is flashed around like some kind of Jesus talisman. I attend. I sing a few songs—but only if they are the songs I prefer performed only by certain instruments. I hear a little lightweight preaching and call it good for the week. What is neglected is devotion—a devotion that can only come about in a heart that knows it has been rescued.
God’s chosen people avoided spiritual obedience by practicing the ritual of worship. The people rebelled–even to the point of prostituting themselves with idol worship–and spent years of anguish in exile. Still, God remembered His promises to Abraham and the covenant with His people which He would not break. A new covenant is required—one that fulfills all that God promised to Abraham and makes the people blameless.
Within a few weeks of having our sweet Eden home, I realized what God had done. He had revealed Himself through the adoption of our daughter. Even though I was a believer for a lot of years before, I now saw salvation in a different light—that God deeply, deeply loves me and made all the arrangements so that I could be His child. I had doubted for so long that God could work all this pain together for good. I had felt for so long that God was punishing me by not allowing me to carry a baby to term. I had grown accustomed to thinking of God as angry, and cold, and distant. But here He was showing Himself.
I thoroughly enjoy decorating and gift giving and cooking for a crowd. No one is going to shame me into removing the Christmas stockings from the mantel because it’s a tradition that doesn’t do enough to promote Jesus. Still, I’m not going to flip open my bible and find a big guy who rides in a sleigh or a Currier and Ives snow scene or Ebenezer Scrooge. What I do find in scripture is the truth. I enjoy stocking stuffers and peppermint bark. I need truth.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree…
At Christmas I have to examine my flurry of decorating, shopping, wrapping, cooking and partying and wonder if I’ve forgotten who made His entrance on that day. He exchanged His place at God’s right hand for a manger, His throne for a cross—and He did this for me. If my Christmas traditions are the Sunday school equivalent of a superficial smile, nod and a “Hey, good to see ya,” at the advent of so great a salvation, then I’m in serious need of prayer.
Has Jesus taken hold of you? In Philippians chapter three, Paul describes a depth of self-abandonment of which few of us are acquainted. Before Christ confronted him on the road…