This week, we gather in one combined service to celebrate the coming of Christmas through music. However, we will also open God’s Word together to Isaiah 61. Following up from last week’s text, the prophet speaks of the coming Messiah as one who will seal the covenant of God with His people. This covenant is rooted in the character of God and provides a permanence that is beyond our performance.
In a world that operates in a get-what-you-deserve mindset, the idea that God’s love for us reaches beyond our accomplishments is baffling. Yet, this is what we find in the text. As we prepare to engage this text, allow me to point to a key phrase. Notice the prepositional phrase in verse 8.
(Isaiah 61:8 NIV) In my faithfulness I will reward them and make an everlasting covenant with them
God is making a covenant because he is faithful; it is not because we have displayed merit. Does God have to act? If he cuts us off, is he breaking a previous promise? In chapter 54, Isaiah describes the fuel for the covenant.
(Isaiah 54:10 NIV) Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.
What feeds God’s covenant? It is His love for us. This love is unfailing, certain, absolute. It does not come and go. Isaiah continues by describing this covenant as a marriage. While we don’t necessarily equate marriage with permanence in our culture, marriage is intended to be a lasting promise. It should not be subject to whims or passing trends.
God’s promise to His people will come to fruition in Jesus. Jesus reveals an intense love, one that is willing to sacrifice Himself. He leaves the security of heaven and enters a dangerous world. As we ramp up toward Christmas, may the anticipation of God’s fulfilled promise create indescribable joy. May we experience the burning love of a faithful God.