Prepare to Listen. Light all 4 Advent candles and pray with thanksgiving: A child has been born for us, a son given to us.
Prayerfully Read Isaiah 9:2-7
2The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness--
on them light has shined.
3You have multiplied the nation,
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as people exult when dividing plunder.
4For the yoke of their burden,
and the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
5For all the boots of the tramping warriors
and all the garments rolled in blood
shall be burned as fuel for the fire.
6For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7His authority shall grow continually,
and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time onwards and for evermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
A reversal of circumstances is promised—light instead of darkness. Light, usually linked to God’s glory, is the visible evidence of God’s splendor, majesty and sovereignty, as Brueggemann notes . Darkness refers to anything that causes suffering, hardship, despair. For Israel, darkness was real—the despair and suffering at the hands of the powerful Assyrian conquerors. For us today, darkness has been the suffering caused by covid-19 and inappropriate responses from political and religious leaders.
The good news, says the prophet, is a baby. Not an adult hero. A vulnerable baby! Israel would have to wait for the baby to become an adult. God often works in seemingly slow ways using lowly means. The wait is worth it, as the baby’s names, that is his titles imply. He will be called, “Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” The titles highlight the surpassing greatness of this child. The Christian Church reads this verse and sees it as a reference to Jesus, the Messiah, God’s chosen and anointed King. His coming will be with great victory, restoring with justice and righteousness, all creation to joy, plenty, healing, wholeness. “The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.”
What is your hope in today and to what extent is it a source of your strength?
Respond to Jesus
Your zeal, Lord of Hosts, will do all that you promised. Help me today to rest in the assurance of your zeal, rather than conjuring up my own. May I live, confident in your work in the world and my life today. Amen.
Go live obediently in the world, where God’s zeal is still alive and active.
 Brueggemann, W. Isaiah 1-39. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1998, p. 82.
I am convinced that reading the Christian Bible is essential for our Christian spiritual nourishment. I speak from experience, over 60 years of experience. I also believe we'll never get bored reading the Bible over and over. Each time I read it, I learn something new. Read with me during Advent and learn to wait for Christ with heart and mind alert for his coming. The readings draw on my background of study and teaching the Bible for over 30 years.