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.


Are you Ready and Willing for God’s Call?

Gabriel delivered a surprising and disturbing message to Mary. She was to become a mother by miraculous circumstances but she was an unwed mother in a time where it could have had dire consequences. Gabriel told her in verse 28 “The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary seemed to accept that the coming pregnacy was a blessing and that she was being touched by God in a wonderful way. Her question was, how? Knowing she had not slept with her betrothed husband, she did not see how this was possible. Gabriel reassures her that it is to be ALL God’s doing. Instead of questioning the Lord’s ability to do this miracle, she accepts it with humility and grace.

You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. Luke 1:31-38

To reassure Mary, Gabriel points her to her cousin Elizabeth who is having a child in her old age. Mary would have been familiar with the circumstances of this miracle and Zechariah’s inability to speak. She would have known of the prophecy of a Messiah to come from her family line and must have had a personal faith in God’s faithfulness and power to do the impossible. Her answer is humble and filled with faith. She calls herself the Lord’s servant and accepts Gabriel’s words as truth.

How deep is your faith? Can you imagine receiving a messenger from God in visible form? Can you imagine such a miraculous message that would totally transform your future? Many times in scripture men and women have received life altering messages from God. Abraham was called to Go and leave his homeland not knowing his final destination. After a vision of God’s throne room, both Isaiah and Jeremiah were called to speak on God’s behalf to the Israelites. Deborah was called to lead the nation of Israel as was Gideon. All of these men and women said, “yes” to God’s call and were blessed in mighty ways. By submitting to God’s leading, their lives were transformed so they could accomplish God’s work. Mary likewise answered God’s call upon her life and would be blessed and remembered for all eternity.

What is God asking you to do? Is there some work or project He is nudging you to accept? Is He calling you to speak, forgive or support someone? Take some time today and ask God. He may reveal His plans to you as He did with Mary or He may keep you in the dark like He did Abraham. In either case, faith and trust in God is involved. Will you answer with faith and humility or unbelief and rejection? Remember that what God calls you to do, He will equip you to do it. Have faith as God’s chosen servant!