“Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are small among the clans of Judah; one will come from you to be ruler over Israel for me. His origin is from antiquity, from ancient times.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
People don’t expect much from small towns. The pace of life there is slow. There aren’t many job opportunities. Retail offerings are limited. Medical capabilities are limited. Culture isn’t being created. Frankly, most of them are dying. Nothing of real significance happens there. Except this one time, the King of Heaven entered earth in a small town and the world has never been the same.
“But the Lord asked Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh, saying, “Can I really have a baby when I’m old?” Is anything impossible for the Lord? At the appointed time I will come back to you, and in about a year she will have a son.’” (CSB – Read the chapter)
There’s a genre of kids movie that could be called the everything-goes-wrong film. Home Alone is a classic of this genre. So is the more recent film, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day with Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner. In the movie, which is based on the classic children’s book of a generation ago, an increasingly ridiculous series of things happen to Alexander and his family. The comedy is not simply that one of these possible-but-unlikely events happens to the family, but that the whole series of them do all in a row. Sometimes it seems like that’s how God works.
“Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: See, the virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Sometimes, the same scene, viewed through two different lenses, can look very different. You’ve perhaps heard or even witnessed something like this before. You see a man push an old woman down in the middle of the street. What should we think? If that’s all we know, then he’s a scoundrel. If, however, he is doing it to get her out of the way of an oncoming car, he’s a hero. What we see here in Isaiah is subject to the same sort of interpretive conundrum.
“I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Brokenness was never supposed to be the state of things. When God designed the world and everything in it, to a certain extent it all reflected His image. It was all good. All of it. So good. As Moses describes God creating one thing after another, you can almost hear Him whistling while He worked He was so tickled at the goodness of it all. It’s like you felt when you were working on a big project and every single detail was falling exactly into place only on a much, much grander scale. It was all so good. And then it wasn’t. But brokenness was never supposed to be the state of things.
The season of Advent is finally here! For the next month followers of Jesus around the world will be setting aside some time to give special attention to preparing for the arrival of Jesus. Our celebration is not simply for His birth, though, but for His return when He will make all things new. With that in mind, I want to help you get ready for the arrival of Jesus into your lives. Each Monday will bring a new sermon exploring the story of His arrival through a different lens. Each other week day will bring a new reflection on the Advent season that I hope will set your season in the right terms. Blessings to you as you preparing for the coming King!
A Good Story
That was a
moment right there, wasn’t it? I don’t
know about you, but that song is one of my favorites. There is power in this proclamation, “it is
well!” There is strength in being able
to declare that though sin or storm or suffering may loom dauntingly large in
front of us, nonetheless, “it is well with my soul.” Maybe you are in a season when that
declaration is little more than a faint whisper, but nonetheless, to
stand…perhaps to sit…maybe even to simply fall to your knees and with even a
mustard seed-sized faith in the God who alone has the power to push back the
darkness and, with defiance in your spirit, breath out, “it is well with my
soul,” can have the effect of throwing on a floodlight in a dark room.