HOW GREAT OUR JOY! (Advent 2)

Though there are flashes of light in the first eight chapters of Isaiah, most of it is gloom and doom for God’s disobedient people. But when we arrive at Isaiah 9, the light is almost blinding, the promise almost too good to be true, and yet, it was true. It did happen, just as Isaiah said it would. And everyone who has received Jesus knows it is true, for God’s Spirit bears witness with his spirit,

and he rejoices,

“as with the joy of the harvest.” (Isaiah 9:3)

baptismjoy2

baptismjoyI was one who surrendered to Christ reluctantly,

because I became convinced

He was who He claimed to be.

The fear of the Lord brought me to my knees.

But then!

Oh!

He took the blinders from eyes I didn’t know I was wearing. But I knew it when they were gone!

He took the yoke (Isaiah 9:4) from my back

I didn’t know I was carrying.

But I knew it when it was gone!

And when I look back over all these decades of God intervening in my life, of His presence, of His being with me,

I know that I know that I know

that unto us (unto me!)

  a child is born.

Matthew Henry said that Isaiah said “is born” for it was so sure it was as if it was already accomplished.

 

for-unto-us

I’d like you to watch just a minute and a half from a video from Tim Keller’s “The Reason for God.” In it, one of the unbelievers asked him if he would be open to their reasoning that what he professed was not true. I loved his answer. Watch from 18:10 to 19:30.

You cannot read Isaiah 9 without Handel’s Messiah

playing in your heart.

Handel is said to have written this in three weeks, never leaving his house. When a friend (or assistant) came to him at the end, he found Handel in tears saying, “I did think I saw heaven open, and saw the very face of God.”

Handel had that existential experience which Keller speaks of, and which cannot be reasoned away.

Here is a brief account on this story from CBN:

Sunday:

1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

2. Share one existential experience that you have had that gives you confidence that Jesus, Immanuel, really exists and that He is with you.

Bible Study: Monday-Thursday

Monday

3. Read Isaiah 8 and share anything that quickens you.

Tuesday

4. The prophets often had to name their children terrible names as a witness to God’s people about what was going to happen to them as a result of their disobedience. Isaiah’s son was named before he was even conceived. The name “Maher-shalalhash-baz” means “quick to plunder, swift to the spoil.” This would be shouted by the soldiers as they came against Aram and Israel.

A. How long, according to Isaiah 8:4 would it be until this prophecy was fulfilled?

B. This did happen, as prophesied. Prophets would give a “near” prophecy to lend credence to the

“far” prophecy (that of Isaiah 9.) What was the first far prophecy given in Isaiah 9:1?

napthaliNaphtali and Zebulan, near the sea of Chinnereth, were part of Galilee. These were the lands God judged in Isaiah’s day.

C. Read Matthew 4:12-16 and explain how the far prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled.

5. Isaiah, like so many of the prophets, had to watch God’s judgment on His disobedient people. What warning does God give Isaiah in Isaiah 8:11-14?

Peter quotes Isaiah in speaking to Christians about to be persecuted:

28778-27700-10302015-1-peter-3-14-social-800w-tn-png6. Why, in this day of increasing persecution, must we take this to heart?

Wednesday

Prepare you heart with this — I chose this rendition because it also shows artwork from the Masters.

7. Read Isaiah 9 and share anything that quickens you.

8. What do you learn about Jesus that has already happened, and what is still to happen? (Isaiah 9:6)

9. How has Jesus been a wonderful counselor to you in 2016?  

10. Why do you think Jesus is called Mighty God and Everlasting Father since He is the 2nd person of the Trinity?

Thursday

11. Describe the kind of government we shall one day know — and why can we be sure this will happen? (Isaiah 9:7)

12. Using the names Isaiah calls Jesus, write a prayer of praise and make it personal.

Friday:

Optional Video — Watch this sometime this week (with your family, or while baking cookies or wrapping gifts!) See how many passages you recognize from Isaiah — and see if you can recognize artists you love when they were young!

13. Comments on the above?

Saturday:

14. What is your take-a-way and why?

COMMENTS (156) Post a New Comment ↓
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10. Why do you think Jesus is called Mighty God and Everlasting Father since He is the 2nd person of the Trinity?
 
I can’t really wrap my mind around this, but I believe that the Trinity isn’t three separate entities, as in “three Gods”. Although distinct and separate, you can’t separate them; Jesus is in essence and nature very God Himself. “The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Jesus is “one in being with the Father”. My brain doesn’t really understand this at all!

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    I don’t think any of us now, when we look through a glass darkly, can fully comprehend. But yes, not three separate entitities as in “three Gods.” You did well!

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5. Isaiah, like so many of the prophets, had to watch God’s judgment on His disobedient people. What warning does God give Isaiah in Isaiah 8:11-14?          Wow, do these verses sound like the climate in America today.  Conspiracy, fear, dread.    But Isaiah warns that only God should be feared and dreaded……in the poetic way of relaying His truly awesome power and sovereignty.    I love that He is our sanctuary.   vs. 14     And yet, Isaiah warns that many will stumble right over Him and fall because of their own unwillingness to submit to His authority. And people will be snared and captured by the enemy.   Reality?  or Figuratively?   Spiritually?    probably some of each,  I think.  

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6. Why, in this day of increasing persecution, must we take this to heart?         Nothing has ever really changed, since Peter wrote this.  Persecution may wax and wane a little, but somewhere in the world, there is always persecution of Christians as well as persecution of every other belief and minority.  I have a hard time understanding the big global picture and the historical picture as to see if it is ‘better’ or ‘worse’ now.  I only know that, even with the fear I’ve had this year in my own environment, over what has happened in our country.  there is only one answer.  And that is God Almighty.    I’ve referred to this before, but the early Advent message we had Thanksgiving wknd, at my church was about resting in the shadow of the MOST HIGH……as the angel told Mary when he announced that she would bear the Son of God.   The Holy Spirit would overshadow her.  Just as in Psalm 91:1….’he who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.   Since the last Sunday of November,  I have shared this thought with my cousin whose health is declining with stage IV cancer,  my son and daughter in law who are coming to a crossroads in their adoption process and at least two other friends who have been struggling with grief and troubles of different kinds.    It has been a source of hope and comfort to me.  

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    YES — THAT IS THE TRUTH, WE REST IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOST HIGH

     

    VOICE OF THE MARTYRS TELLS US THAT MARTYRDOM OF CHRISTIANS HAS DOUBLED THIS YEAR AND THAT MORE BELIEVERS HAVE BEEN SLAIN THAN ANY TIME IN HISTORY. GIVES ME PAUSE AND HELPS SPUR ME TO PRAYER.

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      Thanks for clarifying that Dee,  regarding persecution of Christians.  Doubling in one year is a staggering statistic.  
        
      I guess I was thinking also about the persecution of so many different people groups and for different reasons.   I know Peter was writing especially to believers so I know I was on a little rabbit trail there…..but I also ache for the other faiths and minorities and people groups who are mistreated and persecuted for petty causes.    I think that is why I feel like it has always been a part of humankind, to oppress others…and it’s hard to understand when it has ever been better.   What is really difficult too, is that much oppression and mistreatment is based on color of skin and political beliefs and those filters will always mean that there are christians on both sides of the equation; the persecutors and the persecuted because Christians come in all colors and political parties.    What a terrible ‘tangled web’ we humans routinely weave to hurt our fellow man.   Sin as old as the beginning of time.  :(    

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Prepare you heart with this — I chose this rendition because it also shows artwork from the Masters.   
 
OH this is WONDERFUL!     THANK YOU,  Dee,  for such a beautiful rendition.  I love the works of the Masters….was especially touched by the scenes of the stable filled with the humans we read about…shepherds and wise men…..but also with crowds of angels.   Of course the angels were there….and not only in the fields with the shepherds.   The unseen angelic host as well as the use of LIGHT on the Christ child says so much to me this morning!  
 

7. Read Isaiah 9 and share anything that quickens you.
I would be writing all morning if I commented on everything that quickens me!  This is one of the most powerful chapters in the Bible I think.   But here are a couple things that are new and fresh for this year’s reading:   I love the ESV wording….those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
    on them has light shone……     This struck me earlier when you first began this series....’the land of deep darkness’.… I had felt that so strongly this fall as the political climate caused such division and consternation…..even physical sickness for people I love.   Such deep, deep darkness that moved over our land.   It made me more aware of the things Isaiah must have seen, heard and felt as he relayed God’s message to the people and as God revealed it to him!     and then this:  (paraphrase)   ‘the staff and the rod of the oppressor will be broken!   the boots of the tramping warrior and his garments which are rolled in blood will be used as fuel for the fire!’      I’m always quickened by imagery that shows redemption.  Instruments of war and oppression turned into warmth and healing.    Like swords beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks  (gardening tools)  only GOD can take sin, death and destruction and redeem it into nurturing, growth and life.    Beauty from ashes.  

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    wanda–this is all so rich “Instruments of war and oppression turned into warmth and healing.”

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    Wanda,
    Amen ~    “I’m always quickened by imagery that shows redemption.  Instruments of war and oppression turned into warmth and healing.    Like swords beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks  (gardening tools)  only GOD can take sin, death and destruction and redeem it into nurturing, growth and life.    Beauty from ashes.”  

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9. How has Jesus been a wonderful counselor to you in 2016?  
I loved this question! I don’t write in my prayer journal as much as I used to, but I did just look back over the last year and I can see a tiny facet I think of how the Lord has been working in my life, as Counselor. I see areas He has called me to finally release. I see places on my heart with scabs of un-forgiveness, that He gently removed and has begun to heal. Though many circumstances have not changed, and some maybe worsened, my perspective has shifted. I do feel He has shown me that this life here is short, AND it is not my all. He showed me this year that my goal, in subtle ways, had been to have a comfortable life. But the more I see and feel that this life is fleeting, the more I want to live it poured out—and yes, that scares me to say, and yet I know He will not allow more than HE can handle!
 
I shared this article on the FB page, but the gist of it said “The gospel transforms…precisely because it assures us that we do not need to do and see and have and accomplish everything in this short life. The gospel promises life beyond—a much better, longer, and more fulfilling life…If you do not believe in life after death, I understand the overwhelming desire to build a career now, because it is the only career you will ever have. I understand why you need to grab a hold of every opportunity because there will be no more opportunities beyond the ones you have today. But for the Christian, there is a forever still to come—a forever of living in this world, exploring this world, exercising dominion over this world, and glorifying God through every gift, talent, moment, passion, and opportunity.”
 
And I’m so glad you reminded me of the Young Messiah! I just pulled out our old CD–that same purple cover and have it blaring through the house! And the video is so fun to see!

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    LOVE THIS WHOLE POST. HE IS YOUR COUNSELOR AND I SEE ONE WHO WAS ALREADY MATURE, MATURING MORE WITH SUCH BEAUTY.

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    Lizzy, I love this: “Though many circumstances have not changed, and some maybe worsened, my perspective has shifted.” I think we all can relate to wanting to live a comfortable life, too. You have a beautiful walk with the Lord.

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10. Why do you think Jesus is called Mighty God and Everlasting Father since He is the 2nd person of the Trinity?
I think of Phil 2:6 “who, though he was in the form of God…” Jesus has all the attributes of God and of the Father. He IS Emmanuel, GOD with us, God in flesh. I love how these passages emphasize He deity, His oneness with God, and the assurance of the Trinity. 
 

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Yes the Government shall rest upon His shoulders; a government of Righteousness & Justice & Peace, becuase He alone is Prince of Peace . How wonderful that will be! He is Faithful. He is our tender Shepherd & almighty warrior who fights our battles for us. Without His “wonderful counsel” day by day by day & moment by moment, I would have been a basket case. He takes my hand & leads me on & is my greatest encourager. He won’t leave me as I am because He loves me too much & has greater things in store for me. I might be willing to settle for second best, but He wants the very best for me! What an awesome & “everlasting Father”!

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    LOVELY, JENNY.

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Love everything you had to say Lizzy! Awesome how He is leading you, & in such humility  :)

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Wow, I have not heard of the Young Messiah CD before although I am familiar with several of the singers. Awesomeness galore! Loved Bebe and Cece’s rendition of Isaiah 9.

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Wow, the sax and the guitar duet was sweet! Nila, I thought of you since you play the guitar.

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11. Describe the kind of government we shall one day know – and why can we be sure this will happen? (Isaiah 9:7)
 
One day there will be an end to politics as we know it….no more campaigning, voting for a president. In other countries, rulers, dictators, and kings; communism, socialism, all other democratic governments – they will all be over. There will only be One Supreme Ruler, the One who sits on the throne of David. His government will be established and ruled justly and rightly, and peacefully. Everyone will live in peace. We can be sure of this because God promises it.

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    I love this SUSAN.    What a picture of what we all long for.  

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Dee,
This is a follow-up to a previous week when you encouraged us to have a “tea” and invite neighbors in.   Last night I did a male version of a tea, inviting my 24 your old son and as many of his friends as he wanted to bring,  for a Mexican buffet, complete with candles and a lace tablecloth.    They arrived with ties on and one big burly young man handed me a bouquet of flowers.  They stayed around our table for three hours and we had such lively conversation.   
 
Thank you, Dee, for encouraging us to be hospitable.    And how like our Lord, to turn it all around and let these young men be the gift to me.   

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    Nila……this is such a wonderful post!     I am positive those young men think highly of you and that this evening is always something for them to look back on no matter where life takes them.  They will know that you are someone who is trustworthy and kind.  And someone they can turn to if they are struggling.  
     
     

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    OH  and I just now re-read your last sentence.  YES!   That is just how I felt this fall.  My son and his wife have gardened on our land all year and had an abundant harvest.  They planned a harvest dinner for their friends and did all the cooking but planned to have it outdoors.  They had invited 30 people.   BUT the weather was dreadful that night so we moved it indoors at our little home  (it ended up being 24 people).   The Lord gave me a calm and willing heart even though this kind of thing would usually really stress me.  Those young men and women (mostly in their 30’s) were SO GRACIOUS, grateful and kind.  It was an honor to be part of their conversation and they treated us with so much appreciation.  Most of them are not believers.  But many of them went to the church we did and grew up in Christian homes.   I felt as you did that to have them here was  a gift to US.  

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      Woe, I love this too, Wanda!  A TRUE harvest party! So cool!!! ?

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    Nila–I love this! What a precious gift you gave your son, and his friends, they will treasure that memory. I would love to do this one day for my son and his friends, so sweet. 

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    Wow, Nila! What a gift for them and for you as well. I have

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    That is great, Nila!  I love it!  Hospitality in action.

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    Oh Nila — this is wonderful. I’m grinning at the picture and praising God for how His love flowed through you.

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I’m running out of time to finish answering the rest of the questions here, but I am about to decorate my tree and will listen to the Young Messiah.   I have this on a cassette tape!  I brought it with me in the car yesterday as our car still has a cassette deck.   I haven’t heard it in years.  :)    
 
Many take aways this week:    LIGHT,   HOPE and REDEMPTION especially.   And we are still in the opening chapters of Isaiah.   The restoration chapters of 40-66 are yet to come.  What a rich and meaningful text.   I can’t wait to meet Isaiah in heaven!   What must it have been like to be the messenger of these immortal words?  Speaking them for the very first time?   These words that have been sung, and spoken, memorized and cherished for centuries……these words that proclaim the MESSIAH!!  

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Nila: I LOVED your hospitality to those young men! Their hearts must have been overflowing :) ( & their stomachs too…haha)   I’m having some neighbor women over next week one night & am trying to just open my home & heart to small groups & one on one. A few days ago I texted a neighbor who I hardly know, but who struggles with anxiety & depression. She came over & only had 10 mins, but said she felt she just “had to come’ She let me give her a big hug & pray for her, then I sang her a scripture song. She has been so much on my heart & I felt so priveleged to be able to minister to her. Hopefully she will come again soon & for longer!
 

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    Love to hear about the opportunities you have had, Jenny! It is good to have you here with us.

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    Oh Jenny what a big blessing you must have been to your neighbor, so often people just need so desperately to know someone cares for them, you not only showed her that you cared but that the almighty God loves her also. She will be craving time with you I am so glad for her.

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      What you say, Donna, is so true — so many desperately lonely people.

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    Jenny.…..your open heart and home will speak volumes to your neighbors.   And I’m sure also,  that the woman who came for a few minutes didn’t leave the same as she came.  
    I’ve been thinking all day about how life has changed and these kinds of things don’t happen like they used to….bless you for reaching out. 
     
     

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    Wonderful Jenny — you took the first brave step!

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