O come, Thou Wisdom from on high, and order all things, far and nigh;
To us the path of knowledge show, and cause us in her ways to go.
Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles, foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
1 Corinthians 1:20-24
Nothing about the story of Jesus makes sense. Why would a Holy, Mighty, Jealous God choose to come as an infant? Why would the arrival of a liberator be hidden away in Bethlehem? Why would it be announced only to shepherds? Why risk the ridicule and skepticism of a virgin birth? Why would the news be carried by a madman in a wilderness?
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.
Hebrews 11:4 [NASB]
Have you ever read the story of Cain and Abel and wondered where, exactly, Cain went wrong? I mean, here we have Cain bringing an offering to God of his own accord and God flat out denies him. So far as we know, Cain didn’t know anything about requirements – Leviticus and the Law were generations away. But God says “no” and we are left with “why?” Continue reading →
I find it especially helpful to write when I pray – something about my pencil scratching across the page seems to drown out the distractions, focus my thoughts, and helps me set aside the laundry list of things (like laundry) waiting for me at the other end of my time. I write about scripture, I work through fears and doubts, I thank God for things, I ask Him what the hell is going on with my life (seriously, if I had a pair of shoes for every time that one came up…), I process.
Sometimes, though, I set aside my agenda, I turn off what is left of my filter, and I listen. And I write.