The LORD will comfort Israel again and have pity on her ruins. Her desert will blossom like Eden, her barren wilderness like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found there. Songs of thanksgiving will fill the air. (Is 51.3)
“In the coming of Jesus to be the savior of the world, God is doing something new and constructive and lasting in our messy human scene, and everyone is invited. This joyful declaration and promise is that of ‘ecstatic praise.’” (P. Tim)
“The people of God, now from all nations, are so richly comforted and loved, it takes nothing less than the heavens, the earth, and the mountains to shout their hurrahs to God.” (R. Ortlund, Isaiah, God Saves Sinners)
“’Joy to the world!’ Anyone for whom this sound is foreign, or who hears in it nothing but weak enthusiasm, has not yet really heard the gospel. For the sake of humankind, Jesus Christ became a human being in a stable in Bethlehem: Rejoice, O Christendom! For sinners, Jesus Christ became a companion of tax collectors and prostitutes: Rejoice, O Christendom! For the condemned, Jesus Christ was condemned to the cross on Golgotha: Rejoice, O Christendom! For all of us, Jesus Christ was resurrected to life: Rejoice, O Christendom! …All over the world today people are asking: Where is the path to joy? The church of Christ answers loudly: Jesus is our joy! (1 Pet. 1:7–9). Joy to the world!” (D. Bonhoeffer, God Is in the Manger)
Shout for joy, you heavens rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones. (Is 49.13)
How did Zion receive such wonderful news? Their response… “But Zion said, ‘The LORD has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me’” (v. 14). In other words, “Meh… whatever…” (JIV translation – Jason’s Intergalactic Version). It’s mindboggling how apathetic we can be at times, even when God comes to us with such amazing news of comfort, deliverance, healing, salvation. Our hearts are dead and we just don’t care. People try to convince us that we should be encouraged, but our emotions are like dead weight that can’t be budged. Time passes by without mercy as we wallow in our lethargy, listlessness and despondency.
“Perhaps my own (our own?) habitual torpor might be healed this season; perhaps, at the appearance of the Word and with the faithful assistance of those who love us, this nagging sense of futility and of powerlessness might be replaced with the faith to rise up, the strength to lift our beds, the willingness to walk. And perhaps Isaiah’s words propose as well that the barren desert of human generation will also bloom, and bring to lush fullness the desiccated hearts of humankind. Let us pray that, thereafter, we may become fonts of his love and mercy, that we too may become wells of living water, refreshing those around us…” (S. Cairns, in God With Us)
“The eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then shall the lame man leap like a hart,
and the tongue of the dumb sing for joy.” (Isa. 35.5-6)
“The mystery of God’s activity in the world is that the tiny signs of faithfulness and love and mercy and hope, the tiny signs enacted by the Christian community, are the pointers to the glory that will come when the Lord takes his power to himself. This is not the way I would have done it; it is not the way you would have done it. No wonder we take offense. You and I would have made it obvious, so that it would have stunned everybody and made argument and questioning irrelevant. But the glory of Lebanon [cf. Is 35.1-2]… is secreted for the time being in the small deeds and the little prayers of the church of God…
‘Behold, your God will come. He will come and save you. Be strong. Fear not. The redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing—everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away’ [Is 51.11].
The true ‘glory of Lebanon’ is given by God, and it is hidden, with joy, in the deeds and the prayers of his church. Amen.” (Fleming Rutledge, Advent
Take a moment to lift your voices to the Lord. Worship Him with joy as you sing about all that God has done – (click here)
“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant
to restore the tribes of Jacob
and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 49.6)
“’Come, Lord Jesus.’ Church often recite this prayer during the Advent liturgy. But why would we pray for the Lord’s coming when he has already been born among us? This is the paradox of the season: advent is a time of tension between the already and the not yet. While we anticipate the coming of Christ in Bethlehem, we also look forward to his second coming at the end of time. The first advent point to the last…
While we wait for Christ to come in glory, we enter into a sense of expectant hope articulated by the prophet Isaiah… Christian theologians interpret these Scriptures as prophetic of Jesus: he is the Messiah, the one who was promised. But we are also to understand Isaiah in an eschatological sense—his words speak to God’s second advent… Clearly in our fallen world is still yearning for a savior; all things are not as they should be. During Advent we dwell in that space between the promise and fulfillment, praying for the Lord Jesus to ‘come.’” (G. Pennoyer, God With Us)
Waiting and praying for Jesus to come again is a way of life filled with joyful anticipation. While listening to “Joy to the World” (click here), write down prayers to the Lord expressing this joy of advent.
And now the Lord says— he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord and my God has been my strength—
he says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 49.5-6 NIV)
“Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, and there is no other. He is God’s appointed ‘light for the nations.’ Every wisdom and philosophy and moral code outside of Christ lies in the deepest, outermost darkness as to salvation. But to enter into the light of Christ is to have your gloom lifted and your confusion replaced with truth and delight. He is your breakthrough to seeing everything in a new light. And his God-appointed mission, to bring the light of God into our natural darkness, will succeed with worldwide impact. Jesus himself said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’ (John 8.12).” (R. Ortlund, Isaiah, God Saves Sinners)
Listen to this song, Gloria by Josh Garrels (click here) and let’s pray that as we enter into the light of Christ, our gloom would be lifted.