“Raised Up From” ( Isaiah 55:8-9, WYC ) by Carley Evans

In case you wonder why we don’t understand God, He tells us the reason. He says as far as the heaven is from the earth is similar to how far above us are His ways and His thoughts. God is beyond us, above us, raised up from us.

For why my thoughts be not your thoughts, and my ways be not your ways, saith the Lord. For as (the) heavens be raised (up) from (the) earth, so my ways be raised (up) from your ways, and my thoughts from your thoughts. 

Makes understanding the reason behind Christ’s entrance into the world a bit easier, however. If God is so far removed from us, then His coming as an infant – actually on the earth – makes perfect sense. How else are we to grasp who He really is? So much better is Jesus than Moses. So much better is the new covenant than the old – hearts not of stone, but of flesh and blood where God’s love is written directly by His Holy Spirit. 

That Jesus comes to earth is because God is raised up from us. Jesus descended to us so that we might live again.

“A Son Given To Us; Father Of The World To Come” ( Isaiah 9:6, WYC ) by Carley Evans

English: child Jesus with the virgin Mary, wit...
English: child Jesus with the virgin Mary, with the Holy Spirit (represented as a dove) and God the Father, with child john the Baptist and saint Elizabeth on the right (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love the juxtaposition in Isaiah of the Son given to us; the Son who is also the Father of the world to come [or to coming!].

“Forsooth a little child is born to us, and a son is given to us, and princehood is made on his shoulder (But a little child is born to us, and a son is given to us, and princehood is placed upon his shoulders); and his name shall be called Wonderful, A counsellor, God, Strong, Father of the world to coming, A prince of peace [and his name shall be called Marvellous, Counsellor, God, Strong, Father of the world to come, Prince of peace].”

Jesus’ birth is long anticipated. Isaiah knows He is coming and yet speaks of Him in the present tense: “But a little child is born to us, and a son is given to us, and princehood is placed upon His shoulders.” Jesus is here and now, but He is also in the future where He is “Father of the world to coming [or to come!]”

God is human and divine, simultaneously. Isaiah barely grasps this, yet here it is in his words – words the Holy Spirit writes through him: “A little child is born to us.” “And His name shall be called God, Strong, Father of the world to come, Prince of peace.”

Merry Christmas.

“For This Thing” ( Isaiah 7: 14, WYC ) by Carley Evans

Isaiah stained glass window at St. Matthew's L...
Isaiah stained glass window at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in Charleston, SC. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For this thing the Lord himself shall give a sign to you. Lo! a virgin shall conceive, and shall bear a son; and his name shall be called Immanuel. [Lo! a maid(en) shall conceive, and bare a son; and thou shalt call his name Immanuel.]”

What is ‘this thing’ Isaiah mentions? ‘This thing’ is whatever wearies, not only men, but God.

“And Isaiah said, And so, hear ye, the house of David; is it not enough for you to make men weary? must ye also make my God weary as well?” (Isaiah 7: 13)

What wearies man and God? Evil. And apparently the evil existing within His chosen people – no, not the nation of Israel alone, but any one person whom He selects as His own.

Isaiah says that the child called “God With Us” will “eat butter and honey, that He know how to reprove evil, and choose good.” (Isaiah 7: 15)

Choosing good is what we can’t seem to get right. For this thing, God comes into the world as an infant, to take up our burdens and walk as we walk, to die in our stead so we might live.

“In Everlasting Worlds” ( Isaiah 26:4, WYC ) by Carley Evans

The Rich Man and Lazarus
The Rich Man and Lazarus (Photo credit: Lawrence OP)

How many everlasting worlds are there? I think the Biblical answer is 2. One is heaven; the other is hell. All other worlds are temporary and fading. Isaiah writes:

“Ye have hoped in the Lord, in everlasting worlds, in the Lord God, strong without end. (Yea, hope ye in the Lord, forever, in the Lord God, who shall be strong forever.)”

Do those in hell – in that everlasting world – “hope in the Lord God, strong without end?”

Remember the story of the rich man who, while on the earth in the temporary and fading world, ignores the needs of Lazarus, the beggar? Remember when the rich man – who has lived in comfort – dies, he sees Lazarus and Abraham in heaven while he languishes, buried in hell? He begs that Abraham send Lazarus to dip a finger in cool water to reduce the hot dryness of his tongue. But Abraham tells the rich man the truth. There is a large gulf of darkness between heaven and hell, and no one can reach across it. The rich man finally thinks of others. He begs Abraham to send Lazarus to his living relatives to warn them. But Abraham says that even if a man rises from the dead, his brothers will not listen to Him since they obviously ignore the prophets.

All people hope in the Lord even if they don’t realize it while they are alive.

“A Lifting Up” ( Isaiah 40: 31, WYC ) by Carley Evans

Prophet Isaiah, Russian icon from first quarte...
Prophet Isaiah, Russian icon from first quarter of 18th cen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“But they that hope in the Lord, shall change strength, they shall take feathers as eagles; they shall run, and shall not travail; they shall go, and shall not fail.”

What success is the Holy Spirit promising those of us who hope in the Lord? God promises — we are strong; we can fly, run, go without “travail” and without failure. God contrasts us with those — even those who are young — who “fail” or “fall down in their sicknesses.” (Isaiah 40: 30)

God is not promising that those who hope in the Lord never suffer. Rather He promises us renewal of strength even in times of sickness or hardship. He promises us a kind of lifting up as we “take feathers as eagles.” Our hope in the Lord ought to give us comfort for we know we “shall not fail.”

“In Him Wickedness” ( Isaiah 53: 6, WYC ) by Carley Evans

Christ in Gethsemane (Christus in Gethsemane),...
Christ in Gethsemane (Christus in Gethsemane), oil painting by Heinrich Ferdinand Hofmann (Heinrich Hofmann). The original is at the Riverside Church (Riverside Church, New York City). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do we forget Jesus becomes sin (wickedness) on the tree? All our evil is put in Him by God so that “He suffers what should be our chastising, or our punishment.” An extraordinary event — God becoming sin. Our minds protest. How does the Holy One become unholy? Does He? Or is Jesus only dressed in sin? Is sin only “put on Him” as a garment, or is sin “put in Him?”

Isaiah, the great prophet from the Old Covenant, writes:

“5 Forsooth he was wounded for our wickednesses, he was defouled for our great trespasses; the learning of our peace was on him, and we be made whole by his wanness. (And he was wounded for our wickednesses, he was defiled for our great trespasses; he suffered what should have been our chastising, or our punishment, and we be healed, or made whole, by his scourgings.)

6 All we erred as sheep, each man bowed into his own way, and the Lord putted in him the wickedness of us all. (We have all wandered astray like sheep, each one turned to his own way, but the Lord put on him all of our wickednesses.)”

Jesus is defiled, defouled, punished, wounded, scourged. God the Father treats Jesus as sin. As a result, we — who err and wander astray, each to our own way — are made whole, healed, restored to God’s graces.

“Like A High Wall Collapsing” ( Isaiah 30: 21, NIV ) by Carley Evans

“The Lord longs to be gracious to [us]; He rises to show [us] compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him!” writes the prophet Isaiah. (30:18)

God Himself speaks to His people, telling them how they “reject this message.” Instead, they “rely on oppression and depend on deceit,” (Isaiah 30:12) choosing to believe the lies and oppression of idols. Therefore, declares the Lord, “this sin becomes for you like a high wall, cracked and bulging, that collapses suddenly, in an instant.” (Isaiah 30:13) God sends “the bread of adversity and the water of affliction;” but “when you cry for help” He is ready and willing to be gracious. (Isaiah 30:20,19) He shows you your teachers. And, “whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'” (Isaiah 30:21)

When you hear that still small voice; then, says the Lord, “you defile your idols overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, ‘Away with you!'” (Isaiah 30:22)

No longer do you ask God to stop confronting you. Rather, you listen for that Word that says, “Here. This is the way; walk in it.” And, if you are honest, you add this prayer: “Lord, help my unbelief.”