As we have done in years past, we are again blogging our way through the Advent Lectionary readings. We love this season as it allows us to take time to slow ourselves down and walk between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is time for us to live in full knowledge of the “Now” of the Kingdom without rushing the “Not Yet” of the Kingdom. Thank you for being a part of this journey with us. Our prayer is that these posts will serve as devotional meditations to focus your heart and mind on the imminent coming of our King!
A reading from the Prophet Isaiah.
The desert will rejoice, and flowers will bloom in the wastelands. The desert will sing and shout for joy; it will be as beautiful as the Lebanon Mountains and as fertile as the fields of Carmel and Sharon. Everyone will see the LORD’s splendor, see his greatness and power.
Give strength to the hands that are tired and to knees that tremble with weakness. Tell everyone who is discouraged, “Be strong and don’t be afraid! God is coming to your rescue, coming to punish your enemies.”
The blind will be able to see, and the deaf will hear. The lame will leap and dance, and those who cannot speak will shout for joy. Streams of water will flow through the desert; the burning sand will become a lake, and dry land will be filled with springs. Where jackals used to live, marsh grass and reeds will grow.
There will be a highway there, called “The Road of Holiness.” No sinner will ever travel that road; no fools will mislead those who follow it. No lions will be there; no fierce animals will pass that way. Those whom the LORD has rescued will travel home by that road. They will reach Jerusalem with gladness, singing and shouting for joy. They will be happy forever, forever free from sorrow and grief.
— Isaiah 35:1-10 (GNT)
The Word of God for the people of God.
Isaiah is writing to a people in exile. These are a people who have been through it—and most of it of their own accord. They failed to follow God. They were exiled from the land that was promised them—a land that they never fully occupied. And, now, on the banks of the Euphrates they wonder how to sing the praises of God (Psalm 137). The Prophet—the same one who told them they were headed for exile—tells them that a road is being paved on which they will head home.
Isaiah’s prophecy doesn’t just hold hope—confident and joyful expectation in God’s goodness—for the Israelites waiting rescue from the grasp of their captors. It holds hope for us.
As we travel throughout the world and talk to front-line workers, one of the—almost unanimous—prevailing themes that comes out of those discussions is that they are tired. The are worn out. The work is hard. It’s long. It’s often without immediate fruit.
One of the things that God has challenged us to do in our ministry to the “give strength to the hands that are tired.” To speak courage to them. To remind them of Who is on the throne of the Kingdom in which they live.
On more than one occasion as we have sought out the word of the Lord for where we were to go, this passage has been a part of that word. A reminder of the call with which God has challenged us. Go. Give strength. Speak courage.
And, that’s what we do. Our “mission” is to speak life. To impart blessing. To pray over. To give courage.
One of the most important things that you can do for us—and for our friends in the nations—is pray that we readily recognize the “Road of Holiness”—the ancient path.
In another of the exile prophecies, Jeremiah (6:16), tells the people to “stand at the crossroads and look. Ask for the ancient paths and where the best road is. Walk in it, and you will live in peace.” Pray that we will always know which is the ancient path. That we may be able to stand alongside the workers in the nations and help them see the ancient path. That we may strengthen them as they walk along the path.
It is the ancient path that we walk between the first lighting of the Advent Candles and the lighting of the Christ Candle. It is the ancient path that leads us from the now to the not yet. It is the ancient path that takes us from our home in Edmond into the nations and back again. It is the ancient path that leads us all into the nations—be it physically, in prayer, through finance, or inviting the nations to us.
Strengthen the hands that are tired. Give strength the the legs that are weak. Speak courage. Speak blessings—impartations of life that call one into their God-given destiny.
And, in this, we see the Kingdom come. We see the now move closer to the not yet. We see God’s desires accomplished in the nations.