“Someone’s Coming” | November 27, 2022 | First Sunday of Advent
1 This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem: 2 In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. 3 Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 4 He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. 5 Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord. — Isaiah 2:1-5
A little girl named Jana was given a part in her church’s Christmas drama. Jana was so excited about her part that her mother thought she was going to be one of the main characters. Jana, however, would not reveal to her mother the part she was supposed to play.
After much anticipation, the big night finally came. The parents were all eagerly awaiting their children’s participation in this Christmas drama. One by one the children took their places. The shepherds fidgeted in one corner of the stage. Mary and Joseph stood solemnly behind the manger. In the back three young wise men waited impatiently. Meanwhile, Jana sat quietly and confidently.
Then the teacher began: “A long time ago, Mary and Joseph had a baby and they named Him Jesus. And when Jesus was born, a bright star appeared over the stable.”
This was Jana’s cue. She got up from her chair, picked up a large tin-foil star, walked behind Mary and Joseph and held the star up high for everyone to see.
When the teacher talked about the shepherds coming to see the baby, the three young shepherds came forward and Jana jiggled the star up and down excitedly to show them where to go.
When the wise men responded to their cue, Jana went forward a little to meet them and to lead the way, her face as alight as the real star might have been.
The play ended. They had refreshments. On the way home, even though she only had a nonspeaking role, Jana said to her mother, with great satisfaction, “I had the main part!”
“You did?” Her mother asked, wondering why she thought that. “Yes,” she said, “because I showed everybody how to find Jesus!” I guess she did have the main part. She pointed all the other actors toward Jesus.
Welcome to the Season of Advent—a season that points us towards the birth of Jesus—a season that seeks to impact our lives. Unfortunately, our culture encourages us to start before the Season of Advent, reminding us that Christmas is coming—and we need to prepare by buying whatever it is they are selling: Christmas lights—cards—decorations—toys—clothes—and the list goes on!
As we begin this season, which coincidently, as I mentioned last Sunday, begins the Church New Year, there is always the danger that we will get so busy with all that must be done—or think must be done, that it will become a meaningless flurry of activity. I hope you will plan to be in worship each of the Sunday’s leading up to Christmas this year to help you keep this holy season in perspective.
Isaiah, which means “The Lord is Salvation” introduces himself in the first verse of his book: “The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah” (Isaiah 1:1)
This way of introducing himself is much the same way that we choose to remember where we were when certain events of history took place. You may know this but have never really given much thought to the fact that every time you check your calendar or refer to a date you are using Jesus Christ as your reference point. Because of Jesus, history is divided into BC (before Christ) and AD (in the year of the Lord). Every other event in history and every event on your calendar today is dated by how many days and years it has been since Jesus Christ appeared on earth. Even your birthday is dated by His birthday.
The Prophet Isaiah saw visions that would bring great hope for the nation of Israel. It is assumed that Isaiah was from Jerusalem and as his introduction indicates was called to be a prophet in 742 BC which was the year that King Uzziah died. His ministry lasted some forty years and maybe even longer but we know that he served under four kings: Uzziah (783-742 BC)—Jothan (742-735 BC)—Ahaz (735-715 BC)—Hezzikiah (715-687 BC).
Most scholars agree that this book of Isaiah is actually three books. First Isaiah is chapters 1-39, composed primarily of the words and deeds of Isaiah of Jerusalem and seem to indicate a time before captivity. Second Isaiah would be chapters 40-55 which seem to indicate the nation of Judah being held in captivity. And Third Isaiah found in chapters 56-66 indicating a time when Judah and its leaders had returned to Jerusalem.
Isaiah’s message for today is concerned with Judah but it also describes a coming Messianic Kingdom that will reach out to all nations and bring justice and peace to them. This vision of the future Jerusalem can also be found in Micah 4:1-3.
This vision would contain one of the great prophetic visions of all time—the longing of the human heart for peace.
Wouldn’t we all like to live in a world where there was no more war—no more killing—no more hatred? Wouldn’t you like to live in a city such as this?
During the past 5,600 years there have been nearly 15,000 wars, and these are only the ones we know about. We human beings don’t seem to be very good at living in peace with one another. We’re much better at disagreeing—fighting—and fueding.
Isaiah’s prophecy, then, is a picture of the Church established by the power of God, and miraculously drawing men from all nations into its reign of justice and peace. The Church is what Isaiah refers to in the figure of the Jerusalem temple and its mountain.
By the two words: all nations—Isaiah is talking or writing about a nation that will include the Gentiles in the blessings of God which make this one of the most meaningful passages in the whole of the Old Testament. The Gentiles will encourage one another to go to the source of true instruction and of law, and of their determination to walk in the way of the Lord.
In our Advent Study book, Making Room, author Ed Robb writes that we have become bad at being neighbors. As I was driving around my old neighborhoods this week, I remember how we all knew each other, how our moms would send us to the neighbor’s house for a cup of sugar. How when it was going to storm, we went next door to warn our neighbors.
He writes about all the Christmas plays like the one Jana was in and how the Innkeeper always gets the bad wrap. Bethlehem was so small and poor that, first of all, there wouldn’t even had been an Inn, so there would have been no Innkeeper.
Robb writes, “Perhaps it is time to consider the innkeeper in a different light. Rather than depicting this person as one who turned away a poor, desperate couple, perhaps we should see him or her as someone who took them in, who made room for them. Such an innkeeper would be an example to us how to be a good neighbor.
Perhaps the best gift of hospitality we can give this Advent is to make room in our busy schedules for the person who simply needs to be heard, to know someone cares. Throughout Scripture we are encouraged to open our homes and our hearts to others, to make ourselves available.”
Isaiah describes the peace which comes into the hearts of men who are saved from sin by the power of God. Christians have laid down their weapons of warfare against all others—of whatever race or nation. Others may go on fighting one another, but those transformed by Christ have turned their energies to ways of peace and have found true peace in accepting the teachings of the Lord. Isaiah sees the day when the distrust of men will be overcome by trust in God.
So, this vision of Isaiah has three important points:
1. The supremacy of faith in God.
2. The response of mankind—all nations streaming toward the sanctuary of faith—the eagerness of man to learn the new way of life.
3. An entirely new spirit in international relationships.
As we make our journey over the next four weeks toward the stable in Bethlehem one symbol of our faith will be preeminent: the symbol of light. Tree lights—candle lights—and in the heavens the radiant light of the star the wise men followed on that holy night.
The biblical writers described the difference that the coming of Christ could make in a person’s life. It is the difference between darkness and light. Darkness with all of its confusion and dread—light with all its promise and warmth.
Isaiah is calling for the House of Judah and for us to “walk in the light of the Lord.” In Him—Jesus—Immanuel—the eternal Word is light and life!
The coming of light is the coming of judgment and the coming of salvation. For us, as Christians, the coming of light is the coming of a person! That’s what’s so special about this season and that’s what we need to keep in mind—the reason for the season! The light that shines in our darkness is Jesus!
On the first Easter afternoon, after His resurrection, Jesus entered the Upper Room where the most wanted and scared women and men of all of Israel were hiding. And He said to them the four most important words they or us would ever hear, “Peace be with you.”
For a world that is full of wars—unrest—hatred—and total darkness; God has given the gift of light. In the form of a baby born in Bethlehem, the world is given light—a light that brings salvation—a light that brings reconciliation—a light that brings forgiveness of sins—and a light that brings peace. “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” Brothers and Sisters, let us walk together in that light—let us remember that “Someone’s Coming!” Come, Lord Jesus.
Thanks be to God!