Sunday, December 14, 2008

Advent 3

Today's readings were Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11 (sermon text); 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; and John 1:6-8, 19-28.

Christmas letters may sometimes describe a bad year - but think about many consecutive bad ones! Captivity, oppression, punishment for sin - this is what Israel had been experiencing. There was heartache everywhere; people were downtrodden. At this point, the prophecy in our text was made, fulfilled and quoted by Christ. The Spirit of the Lord rested on Christ Jesus ("Anointed Savior") at His baptism. Of course, the Jews thought that the fulfillment would be physical only: freedom from Rome's rule. However, the Gospel brings spiritual deliverance.

He also binds up the "shattered of heart" (literal rendering). God desires that all of our hearts be "broken and contrite" (Psalm 51:17) that He may restore them to us. We have sinned against Him; therefore our hearts are against him, and therefore they must be broken.

Then comes the year of the Lord's favor. This isn't necessarily a 365-day year, but rather an era in our lives. Present suffering won't compare. The expression comes from the Year of Jubilee (every 50th), where land was restored and families were brought together. The Year of the Lord's Favor is far greater, since it lasts an eternity!

The Day of Vengeance, on the other hand, is a sobering contrast. God will judge all. Many who sing Christmas carols do not understand the Cross and are therefore lost. But remember that God's grace (YEAR) is greater than His judgment (DAY). The saved, the believers, we have the former. Our eternity is with Him because of Christ.

God's blessings on you all the rest of this Advent and beyond!

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