Advent 2019 – Day 24

“Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights.  I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations.  He will not cry out or raise His voice, nor make His voice heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice.  He will not be disheartened or crushed until He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law.”

Isaiah 42:1-4

There are very few in scripture who are distinguished as “chosen of God.”  Saul makes the cut, along with Moses and David – other than that, this phrase is used for the people of Israel as a whole, until we come to Isaiah.  In Isaiah the “chosen ones” are told of “My chosen one” who will be fully inhabited by the Spirit of the LORD, who will have the hand of God upon Him.  His significance cannot be overstated, nor can the significance of His calling.

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Advent 2019 – Day 22

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over His kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.

Isaiah 9:6-7

We have come to the fourth and final Sunday of Advent. So far we have lit the candles of Hope in the promise of the Messiah, Faith that God will fulfill all that He has promised, and Joy in anticipation of the Messiah’s arrival. Today we light the candle of Peace, the Peace the Messiah brings – and Peace is the entirety of His purpose.

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Advent 2019 – Day 18

O Come, O Come Emmanuel Verse/Antiphon 5

O come, Thou Key of David, come and open wide our heav’nly home;

Make safe the way that leads on high, and close the path to misery

“Then it will come about in that day, that I will summon My servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and I will clothe him with your tunic and tie your sash securely about him.  I will entrust him with your authority, and he will become a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah.  Then I will set the key of the house of David on his shoulder, when he opens no one will shut, when he shuts no one will open.”

Isaiah 22:20-22

God’s words here are spoken as His people face a series of sieges.  They have seen the walls of Jerusalem breached (v. 9) and have pulled down houses to fill the gaps with their rubble (v. 10).  But as they scavenged resources and looked to their own devices for fortifying the city, God has this against His people: “you did not depend on Him who made it, nor did you take into consideration Him who planned it long ago.” (v.11)  In fact, when God called them to mourning and prayer, they chose feasting and drinking “for tomorrow we may die” (v.13) instead.

Isaiah 22 is one of the unending examples of people relying on the wisdom of man rather than the plans of God – and God is having none of it.  These particular verses are part of God’s rebuke to the steward who has been leading the royal household in this time. 

Because you have chosen to trust in what is unreliable, God says, I will remove you from this position and put my chosen, Eliakim, in your place – and he will have control over this city.  Everything he does will be certain and secure.

And right now you are thinking, “How is this Advent-y?”

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this:  I know your deeds.  Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.”

Revelation 3:7-8

In contrast to God’s people in Isaiah 22, the church in Philadelphia kept their hope and trust in God amidst their persecutions.  And now Jesus has the key of David on his shoulder and tells them that He is making certain and secure their place in the New Jerusalem.

We find here this truth: Those who trust in God can rest in their security.  Christ has opened the door for us – and no one can shut it.

“After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also.”

John 14:19

This, then, is our joy.  In Advent we remember not only that Jesus lived on earth, but that He lives and we live with Him.  Ongoing.  Without end. 

Advent 2019 – Day 12

O Come, O Come Emmanuel: Verse/Antiphon 3 (Part II)

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;

From depths of hell Thy people save, and give them vict’ry o’er the grave.

Yes, I’m still on this verse.  And it’s only partly because I am a nerd.

Then a shoot will spring forth from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.

Isaiah 11: 1

See that imagery?  A shoot/branch coming up from the roots after the plant is cut down?  That’s adventitious growth right there – when a branch grows from a place you wouldn’t normally find a growth node.  It’s some pretty pernicious asexual propagation used by the most determined of plant species to keep coming back even when you’ve mowed it to the ground.  Know why that wisteria you planted now has a couple dozen clones coming up throughout your yard?  Adventitious growth. And here we’ve got the stubborn remnant of God’s people popping back up after being mowed down by years of oppression – adventitious growth! 

Ok, end of bio-nerd geek out.

Why I’m really still on the references to Jesus as the rod of Jesse is because there is more to unpack; they speak so well to what He has done, is doing, and will do.

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Advent 2019 – Day 10

O Come, O Come Emmanuel: Verse/Antiphon 3

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;

From depths of hell Thy people save, and give them vict’ry o’er the grave.

Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.  The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.  And He will delight in the fear of the LORD, and He will not judge by what His eyes see, nor make a decision by what His ears hear, but with righteousness He will judge the poor, and decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth; and He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked.

Isaiah 11:1-4

Just before he speaks of the coming stem/rod of Jesse, Isaiah tells of God’s coming wrath toward the Assyrians and all those who “enact evil statutes,” “record unjust decisions,” “deprive the needy of justice, and “rob the poor of [their] rights.” (Isaiah 10:1-2) On the heels of this vengeance, one might expect the rod of Jesse to be depicted as a warrior in the spirit of David, or as a glorious king in the spirit of Solomon.

Instead, the stem of Jesse comes in the Spirit of the LORD, and His character is one of wisdom, understanding, counsel, and righteous judgement.  God, Himself, has laid out a plan for vengeance on the oppressor. Now He speaks to the core need of His people – because cries for vengeance really come from the unfulfilled need for justice.

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Advent 2019 – Day 6

Clear Creek State Park, PA

Romans 8:18-25 – For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.  And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.  For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

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Advent 2019 – Day 5


Verse 2

O Come, O Come, Thou Lord of might, who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height,

in ancient times did give the law in cloud and majesty and awe.

If you asked me to write a couplet based on the prophecy of one called the Lord of might, or mighty God, coming for His people, I would instinctively be inclined to a much different angle.  After all, the people of Israel were often under attack – in need of a mighty God to be their champion; or else they were in captivity – in need of a mighty God to be their liberator.

So why would the author of this antiphon choose instead to highlight the Lord of might as the giver of the law?  Surely there are any number of other monikers with which this would pair better. Continue reading