This past Sunday, we entered into the season of Advent. You have to admit, our church building glows during this season; it is perhaps at its finest with Christmas decorations. The building is a visual reminder of a deeper truth; Christmas is a season abuzz with anticipation. We often anticipate the sentimental traditions of the season; yet a greater level of anticipation is possible in this season. Jesus is coming! I know he came two thousand years ago, but he is coming again. Expectancy is an appropriate posture in this season.
The prophet Isaiah spoke in expectant tones hundreds of years before Jesus came. The people of his day were far from God. In fact, they were not far from going into exile because of their sin. Being carted off by foreign armies might make you question God’s presence; you might feel abandoned. But God speaks through Isaiah offering a promise that he will not leave His people. Yes, the people will experience trying times as they are ripped from their homeland. But God will fulfill his promise; when it seems He has given up, he will come.
In Isaiah 40, the prophet speaks words of comfort, of consolation. He reminds the people that His coming will be a highway. When Jesus shows up, the curvy, hard to travel roads will burst into interstates. God is going to blast through mountains; he is going four-lane. When we open the gospels, we find the writers quoting Isaiah 40. They understood Jesus as fulfilling the prophet’s words. As we anticipate the celebration of Jesus’ birth, may we live in the tension of Isaiah’s words. They needed God to show up; He promised He would come. We need God to show up; may we long for his movement in our world today.