Eternal God, through the humble stable and its precious resident has been found light everlasting, power sufficient and joy beyond equal. Come, let us adore him.
Read ISAIAH 8
The Lord said to me, “Take a large scroll and write on it with an ordinary pen: Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz.” 2 So I called in Uriah the priest and Zechariah son of Jeberekiah as reliable witnesses for me. 3 Then I made love to the prophetess, and she conceived and gave birth to a son. And the Lord said to me, “Name him Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz. 4 For before the boy knows how to say ‘My father’ or ‘My mother,’ the wealth of Damascus and the plunder of Samaria will be carried off by the king of Assyria.”
5 The Lord spoke to me again:
6 “Because this people has rejected
the gently flowing waters of Shiloah
and rejoices over Rezin
and the son of Remaliah,
7 therefore the Lord is about to bring against them
the mighty floodwaters of the Euphrates—
the king of Assyria with all his pomp.
It will overflow all its channels,
run over all its banks
8 and sweep on into Judah, swirling over it,
passing through it and reaching up to the neck.
Its outspread wings will cover the breadth of your land,
9 Raise the war cry, you nations, and be shattered!
Listen, all you distant lands.
Prepare for battle, and be shattered!
Prepare for battle, and be shattered!
10 Devise your strategy, but it will be thwarted;
propose your plan, but it will not stand,
for God is with us.
11 This is what the Lord says to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people:
12 “Do not call conspiracy
everything this people calls a conspiracy;
do not fear what they fear,
and do not dread it.
13 The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy,
he is the one you are to fear,
he is the one you are to dread.
14 He will be a holy place;
for both Israel and Judah he will be
a stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.
And for the people of Jerusalem he will be
a trap and a snare.
15 Many of them will stumble;
they will fall and be broken,
they will be snared and captured.”
16 Bind up this testimony of warning
and seal up God’s instruction among my disciples.
17 I will wait for the Lord,
who is hiding his face from the descendants of Jacob.
I will put my trust in him.
18 Here am I, and the children the Lord has given me. We are signs and symbols in Israel from the Lord Almighty, who dwells on Mount Zion.
The Darkness Turns to Light
19 When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? 20 Consult God’s instruction and the testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn. 21 Distressed and hungry, they will roam through the land; when they are famished, they will become enraged and, looking upward, will curse their king and their God. 22 Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“All your talk is mere empty words, because when all is said and done, the last word is Immanuel—God-With-Us” (Isa. 8:10, The Message).
How does my world, my society, my church, my life look this Christmas Eve? What will people be doing and celebrating this midnight? I pray for my town, neighborhood, street, friends; for revelers and street pastors. In today’s reading, despite the promise of Immanuel, the king and people have decided to trust wheeling and dealing with Assyria, to trust mediums and wizards who gibber and squeak. This way leads to Mahershalalhashbaz, to the overwhelming torrent (7), to shattered plans (9), to trap, snare, stumbling, capture. I turn to Shear-jashub, the Remnant (see Isaiah 7:3). Sometimes we believers seem to be a very small group, like Isaiah, his unnamed wife, two witnesses, two sons with the long names and a few disciples. Ahaz, Rezin, Pekah and Assyria, however, have long since crumbled to dust and it is Isaiah’s words, “the law and the testimony” (20), which have endured for millennia. I thank God that the Lord of all, Immanuel, has chosen to call us his family (Heb 2:10–18).There is a painting by Frank Bramley, entitled “A Hopeless Dawn,” in which an elderly woman comforts her daughter-in-law whose husband has been lost at sea. A large family Bible lies open on the window seat; a candle flickers on the table, like on an altar. I will go to worship today to renew my trust in Immanuel. Defiantly, I will drive out my smaller fears with my biggest fear: to swerve from trusting the Trustworthy One. The chapter ends in lightless dawn, fearful gloom, utter darkness. Some scientists say that history will end with a dark and frozen universe – but I trust that the night is far spent and the day is at hand – Christmas is the pledge and foretaste of it.
Read again verse 13. How do you understand the meaning of fearing God?
Lord, I stand amazed at the thought that You are with me (10). When I feel abandoned and alone, lift my spirits with a reminder of this wonderful truth.
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