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Fourth Sunday of Advent: A Vision that Ignited Hope

Last week, we looked at the life of an old priest named Zechariah who was reminded of God’s mercy as he doubted the promises of God. Because he couldn’t see how the angel’s words could possibly come true, God took away his voice. This week, we turn our attention to a prophet who saw the glory of God and was given a voice to proclaim it.

We don’t know a lot about Isaiah. We know he was a husband and a father. He appears to have been a resident of Jerusalem. We know his ministry started in the year King Uzziah died which puts him at about 740 BC. But the most important thing we know about Isaiah is that he saw a vision of God as the glorious central figure in all of reality.

In Isaiah 9:2-7, he describes one of the clearest visions of both the first and second coming of Jesus Christ. As we live between the two advents of our Messiah, Isaiah’s words serve us well to celebrate what God has done in the first advent and ignite our hope in anticipating the second.

“The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shined.
You have multiplied the nation;
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff for his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulders,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.”

Looking back on Isaiah’s words, we resonate that in the midst of the gloom of the darkness of our sin, a son was born who could pierce that darkness with the light of his holiness. The punishment that we deserved because of our rebellion against God was so great that only separation from God would be a fitting consequence. He was indeed unlike any other son who was born before him or has been born since. For He, through immeasurable pain and sacrifice, drank the cup of God’s wrath in the stead of ruined sinners. In return, we get to drink from a cup of living hope.

But, dear Christian, Jesus Christ is not done. As Isaiah prophetically proclaims, the government will be upon his shoulders. He is coming again to reign! He will be a “Wonderful Counselor” and a “Prince of Peace”. Once established, there will be no end to his government and the peace it brings. Friends, may Isaiah’s vision ignite hope in our hearts as we look forward seeing King Jesus face to face and living under his kind benevolence for eternity in the new heavens and new earth.

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