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.
This is a vision that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem:
In the last days, the mountain of the LORD’s house will be the highest of all–the most important place on earth. It will be raised above the other hills, and people from all over the world will stream there to worship. People from many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of Jacob’s God. There he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” For the LORD’s teaching will go out from Zion; his word will go out from Jerusalem. The LORD will mediate between nations and will settle international disputes. They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore.
Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD!
— Isaiah 2:1-5 (NLT)
The Word of God for the people of God.
In the midst of a nation that is about to be attacked, then occupied, and finally exiled, we find a prophet. Yet, this message isn’t a message of war. It’s one of peace. It’s one that speaks to something bigger than the reality of the situation.
And, it is this passage that we find us kicking off #Advent13.
The world is a much different place than 2800 years ago when Isaiah was penning these words, yet some realities remain. Much of the world is in war, occupation, or exile. Millions of people around the globe go to bed every night wondering if they will die during the night by gunshot, bomb, or some other senseless attack.
Yet, we hear the voice of Isaiah calling us to beat our swords and spears (or our guns and drones as they would be better recognized in modern times) to plowshares and pruning hooks.
We often read this passage and think that Isaiah is talking about some grandiose world-wide absence of war. While that is a part of what he is prophesying, there is a much larger message to be heard. It is a message of peace in the now.
It is the message of the Kingdom of God.
It is the message of shalom–nothing missing, nothing broken.
Shalom. That word that we often just translate as “peace” means so much more than that. Shalom is not the absence of conflict. Shalom is the knowledge that even in the midst of our conflict (be it within us or external to us), God is working to ensure that that which is broken will be repair and that which is missing will be found.
And, in this passage, we hear Isaiah’s admonition to be bringers of Shalom. To cease the warring (both within our own self and also within the world).
To cease the struggle.
To cease the battle.
To cease the “must win” attitudes.
To settle into the Kingdom reality of nothing missing and nothing broken.
It is in this place of shalom–Kingdom–that the Lord’s mountain–Kingdom–rises up and beckons for the nations (read people-groups) to come.
And, so we begin our walk to Christmas. Knowing that in just a few short nights, the King will be born. And, this promise of peace…
…this promise of shalom…
…this promise of nothing missing…
…this promise of nothing broken…
…this promise of Messiah…
…this promise of Immanuel–God WITH us…
…will come to be.
This promise will move from being words proclaimed by a prophet to words walked out by a King.
AND, by His followers.
See, here’s where we often miss Isaiah’s point. We view this prophecy as an “end of the world” kind of thing. We interpret it to be specific to a plot of land along the Mediterranean Sea. And, in doing so, we miss the blessing. We miss the beauty of the Kingdom.
While the Kingdom does indeed have an element of “not yet” to it, it also is a Kingdom of now. A Kingdom lived into by all of the followers of the King.
So, as we walk to the manager, let’s not get so wrapped up in the “not yet” that we miss the beauty of the “now”. Let’s not miss the beauty of the ability for us to beat swords and spears into plows and pruning hooks now.
And, as we walk, we proclaim that the KING is coming. And, when the KING comes, so does the KINGDOM!
Walk with us to the mountain–KINGDOM–of the LORD!