Advent Devotionals - December 22nd

“Be strong, fear not; behold our God will come with a recompense: he will come, and save us.”
This offertory is a beautiful declaration of encouragement, justice and salvation from God through the lips of the Prophet Isaiah. Israel’s continued rebellion and increasing corruption, specifically in the southern kingdom of Judah, has removed her from the overshadowing of God’s divine protection. She lives continuously in dread of the more powerful warring nations surrounding her borders. Isaiah delivered God’s word to three consecutive kings, Ahaz, Hezekiah and Manasseh who all foolishly sought to make military alliances with neighboring countries rather than repenting and turning to the Lord for their protection, though King Hezekiah was more the exception.

God’s righteous judgment was once again about to fall upon His people for their persistent rebellion and wickedness. The opening verses of the Book of Isaiah speak the very words of God Himself declaring, “Hear, O heavens! Listen, O earth! For the Lord has spoken: ‘I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows his master, the donkey his owner’s manger, but Israel does not know, my people do no understand.’ Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the Lord; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on Him.” (Isaiah 1:2-4) And yet, even in all this, God’s faithfulness and love is steadfast!

Based upon the words of Isaiah as found in the 35th Chapter, verses 3 and 4, our Offertory reveals words of encouragement and two promises. First, the words of encouragement once offered to Israel who lived in great fear of what surrounded her on all sides and to the Believer for today who lives in a world hostile to God, His people and his divine plan: “Be strong (and) fear not”. We earthly creatures do not perceive the “Big Picture” where God is in control and nothing happens outside of His sovereign will. Second, we find the first promise, “behold our God will come with a recompense”. God will come. He will come and He will not come empty handed but with “vengeance and divine retribution” for His enemies and the enemies of His people though He is the one who used the nations as a rod of chastisement upon Israel. Third, we find second promise involving the Lord’s coming, “salvation”.
God’s righteous wrath against the sins of His people is satisfied, hope and encouragement are given, vengeance and divine retribution has been exacted upon the nations and salvation has once again, settled upon the land and its people. Our Salvation is drawing nigh, the Second Advent draws closer every day therefore, “Be strong, fear not; for behold our God will come”. Amen.

Deacon John

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