Summary: Looking at an advent story through Isaiah.
December 5, 2010
I love surprises, but I don’t let anyone know that. Debbie could buy a present for me, tell me it’s in the next room, and I’ll shrug my shoulders and go about my business and I won’t go looking for that present. Why? Because it’s more fun to be surprised.
This past week I had a few nice surprises. I received a box from Lou Malnati’s. Who and what is Lou’s? It is some of the best Chicago stuffed pizza you will ever eat. What a surprise to find that at my door. I also received some homemade chex mix. The person who gave it to me didn’t know it’s one of my favorite snacks.
Surprises!! They’re great as long as they are positive and good. On this 2nd Sunday of advent, isn’t it surprising that everyone seemed surprised by the event of Jesus’ birth. Nobody expected it, yet it was predicted over and over in the scriptures of the Old Testament. It was great news, a great surprise! Yet, it really wasn’t so much of a surprise, was it?
Joseph and Mary were definitely surprised by the events surrounding the birth of their son. The Jewish leaders weren’t expecting the birth of the Messiah, even though they could quote the Bible about His coming.
The shepherds certainly weren’t anticipating the heavenly announcement of the birth of the Christ. And yet, as we’ve already seen in The Story, God was giving clues of His coming from the beginning of time.
In Genesis 3, God told Adam and Eve that one of their descendants would someday crush satan’s head.
In Deuteronomy 18, God promised to someday raise up another prophet like Moses who would speak the words of God.
In Micah 5, God promised that someday the ruler of his people would be born in Bethlehem.
In Hosea 11, God predicted at some point, His Son would come out of Egypt.
In Isaiah 7, God predicted this Son would be born to a virgin and would be named “Immanuel.”
In Isaiah 11, God promised that out of the root of Jesse (the family tree of King David) a Branch, a leader, would appear, empowered by the Spirit of God.
And in the last chapter of the Old Testament, in Malachi 4, in the very last verses, God promises to send the prophet Elijah, to prepare the way for the day of the Lord, a prediction fulfilled in John the Baptist.
God sent all these signals and more, but the people were still surprised when the Savior was born! And many even rejected Him.
Of all the Old Testament clues, one of my favorite is called “The Servant.”
In Isaiah 40-55, God predicts the coming of His Servant.
This section of Scripture can be a bit confusing because the term “servant” doesn’t always refer to the same person or group. As Isaiah often changes from one identification to another, even within the same paragraph.
He gives 2 vivid portraits of identities of “The Servant”~
In Isaiah 41, the Servant refers to The People of Israel, as we read ~
8 “But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend, 9 I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
What a great passage of scripture, it’s comforting and it’s powerful for the Israelites. They are God’s chosen people; as God promises to strengthen and help them. That’s great news!
Yet, the people of Israel failed to carry out God’s mission to teach the nations about the one true God. So, in Isaiah 42:19-20, we read,
19 Who is blind but my servant, and deaf like the messenger I send? Who is blind like the one in covenant with me, blind like the servant of the LORD? 20 You have seen many things, but you pay no attention; your ears are open, but you do not listen.”
These words indicate that the Israelites, the chosen servants of God are being rejected because they refuse to listen and obey God.
The other meaning for servant in Isaiah – comes in a person who is called “The Suffering Servant.” The servant is no longer identified in the plural as “we and us” but in the singular as “he, him, his.”
This individual as “The Suffering Servant.”
Listen to these great words from Isaiah written about 700 years prior to the birth of Christ. This is a long passage, but I want you to follow along, it’s in Isaiah 52-53 -