Today is the fourth Sunday of Advent, which speaks of our anticipation of the remembrance of the birth of Jesus Christ some two thousand years ago, which we celebrate this coming Wednesday; and it also speaks of our actual anticipation of the future second coming of Jesus Christ.
Will we celebrate this Christmas as usual, with all its materialism and
total indifference to the suffering of animals, or will we completely allow
Jesus Christ to be born in our hearts and souls and become true children of
God who help free creation from its present corruption?
The choice is ours.
In Isaiah 7:10-19, we find a double meaning prophecy, one that applies to the near future of the time it was spoken, and at the same time points to a more distant future time: the birth of Jesus Christ.
10. Then the LORD spoke again to Ahaz, saying,
Ahaz was the king of Israel more than 700 years before the birth of Jesus Christ.
11. "Ask a sign for yourself from the LORD your God; make it deep as Sheol
or high as heaven."
12. But Ahaz said, "I will not ask, nor will I test the LORD!"
13. Then he said, "Listen now, O house of David! Is it too slight a thing for you to try the patience of men, that you will try the patience of my God as well?
Then we come to the double application of this prophecy we mentioned previously.
14. "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.
The meaning of Immanuel is ďGod with us.Ē
This is also the verse that the New Testament writers refer to when writing about the birth of Jesus Christ, which to us disputes the claim of some modern scholars: that this prophecy only refers to the time of Ahaz.
It also refers to the birth of Jesus Christ, for it was a sign from God so that we would hold on to our faith in Jesus Christ, and that He will indeed come again.
15. "He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good.
In other words, by the time Jesus was only a toddler, He knew enough to choose good over evil, which unfortunately most of the adults in this world still donít do.
16. "For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken.
By the time Jesus was born those kings of old and their human enemies were
long gone, but in their place others rose into power, such as the Romans,
who ruled Israel at the time of the birth of Jesus Christ.
And, these human enemies will continue to rise and fall until Jesusí second coming, as we can plainly see today, including the horrible pain and suffering that our fellow human beings are inflicting on millions of other human beings and billions of other animals.
And because of this, Jesus has called us to be the peacemaking children of God, who will help free creation from its present corruption.
So the prophecy continues with a reminder of what happened in the past, and what is yet to come.
17. "The LORD will bring on you, on your people, and on your father's house
such days as have never come since the day that Ephraim separated from
Judah, the king of Assyria."
18. And it will come about in that day, that the LORD will whistle for the fly that is in the remotest part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.
Even the insects will listen to God more than most people. This is why it is so important that we listen.
19. And they will all come and settle on the steep ravines, on the ledges of
the cliffs, on all the thorn bushes, and on all the watering places.
We are to learn from the prophecies.
They are here to help our faith grow in the light of the Lord, so that we will be obedient servants of the Lord our God.
In Matthew 1:18-25, we are told of the actual birth of Jesus Christ.
18. Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.
This is the fulfillment of the Isaiah 7:14 prophecy.
19. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man, and not wanting to
disgrace her, desired to put her away secretly.
20. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.
21. "And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins."
22. Now all this took place that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying,
23. "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which translated means, "God with us."
To us, this is proof that the writers of Jesusí day also believed the prophecy and it strengthened their faith and trust in God, just as it should ours.
24. And Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord
commanded him, and took her as his wife,
25. and kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.
Do we have this much faith and trust in God?
We sure hope so, for this is exactly the way that the Lord wants us all to be.
This is also what Paul is telling us in Romans 1:1-7.
1. Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for
the gospel of God,
2. which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures,
3. concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh,
4. who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord,
5. through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles, for His name's sake,
Before the world around us, we are to be Godís witnesses to what it truly
means to be peacemaking children of God who follow the teachings of Jesus
Christ and live in the heavenly will of God, and cause no intentional pain,
suffering, or death to any other living being.
We are to do this in such a loving and peaceful way that others will believe and follow our example of Christian living for which the whole of creation anxiously awaits.
6. among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;
7. to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
And since all of scripture is living and active, this blessing is also meant
for us today, that we too would, through the power of the Holy Spirit, live
with the birth of Jesus Christ within us, and walk as He also walked.
We can help change the world.
We can help end the pain, suffering, bloodshed, and death that are so prevalent in the world today.
We can help free creation from its present corruption.
May the birth of Jesus Christ be within us all, and may we all have a blessed and cruelty-free Christmas and all the days to come.
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