Good News from God Brings Hope and Joy

Before we get into the 4th and final song about Messiah, I cannot skip the beautiful words of Isaiah 52:7-12. Isaiah is excited about the coming return of the Jews to Judah, after their time of captivity, and it foreshadows Christ’s 1st and 2nd coming. The immeasurable joy and hope that the returns bring are mirrored here.

“How beautiful on the mountains
    are the feet of the messenger who brings good news,
the good news of peace and salvation,
    the news that the God of Israel reigns!
Just as the people await the messengers with battle news in ancient days, similarly they are to wait expectantly for the return from captivity and the coming Messiah.
The watchmen shout and sing with joy,
    for before their very eyes
    they see the Lord returning to Jerusalem.
The arrival will be greeted with great joy and rejoicing. They will see it for themselves!
Let the ruins of Jerusalem break into joyful song,
    for the Lord has comforted his people.
    He has redeemed Jerusalem.
When they return from Babylon, they will find things in ruins but their comfort will come from the Lord. They will see the hope and possibilities in it.

10 The Lord has demonstrated his holy power
    before the eyes of all the nations.
All the ends of the earth will see
    the victory of our God.
The miraculous return to Jerusalem by the Jewish captives was only something that could have been provided by God’s hand. He caused Cyrus the ruler of Persia to look favorably on the Jews and provide them what they needed to return and rebuilt. Similarly, Jesus’s coming to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday just as prophesied and his ultimate return at the end of the age are provided by God alone. 11 Get out! Get out and leave your captivity,
    where everything you touch is unclean.
Get out of there and purify yourselves,
    you who carry home the sacred objects of the Lord.
They were to return for their fresh start with hope in their hearts and carrying the sacred objects that Nebuchadnezzar took when they were taken into captivity. God had preserved them from the time they were taken until Cyrus ordered them returned! 12 You will not leave in a hurry,
    running for your lives.
For the Lord will go ahead of you;
    yes, the God of Israel will protect you from behind.
When God is directing our pathways, we do not need to run in fear for we have His promise that He is with us 24/7, ahead and He also has our backs!

I pray these images from our promise keeping God remind and encourage you today that He is with us always, He has our backs, He had a plan for the Jews who languished in Babylon and He has a plan for us. He will not forget us because we are His. Reflect on belonging to Him. Psalm 100:3 “Know that the Lord is God.  It is he who made us, and we are his;  we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.


Advent Brings Greetings for All of Us!

I love today’s glimpse into the relationship between Mary and Elizabeth and their unborn children. Luke 1:39-45 tells us about the first meeting of these two relatives after the angel had appeared to them both and how the power of God was revealed.

39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

Scripture had told us in Luke 1:15 that John, the baby of Elizabeth and Zechariah, would be filled with the Holy Spirit from birth. In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit would come upon someone for a specific period of time so that they could accomplish the work God had for them to do. After the coming of the Holy Spirit recorded in Acts 2, the Spirit came to dwell within the believer when they believed in Jesus. So John who had the Spirit already and Elizabeth who was filled for this exact moment of greeting saw Mary and the Spirit within them reacted to the presence of preborn Jesus! John in the womb leapt and Elizabeth was given foresight to know that Mary was to be the mother of the Messiah. Elizabeth walked with the Lord and knew of the coming Messiah who would save the people of Israel. She was in awe that the Lord had allowed her to be alive and present when the Redeemer of Israel came. Her prophesy of blessing to Mary, who would give birth to the Savior, has been fulfilled year after year as Christians learn about love and obedience of faith as they read her story.

How does this meet and greet have meaning for us? Do you listen to the Spirit that lives within you as a believer and look for opportunities to exclaim the goodness of the Lord in your life? Mary could tell by Elizabeth’s words and actions that she knew the Lord. Can others tell that you know Jesus by the things you say and do? This is the perfect season to reexamine your words and deeds and prayerfully ask God to help you align them so that what you say and do reflects Jesus. Christmas time is a time for ‘good will towards all men’. Let us spread this good will from Jesus wherever we are- in person, online, in texts, in emails, on the phone…. Let God use you to show the love of Jesus, then you too will experience joy that only Jesus can bring.