Read Luke 1:68-79
It’s amazing to me the things I remember from my childhood. One thing I remember was my dad telling me never to make promises I didn’t intend to keep. This life lesson sounds a bit like Ecclesiastes 5:5: “It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay.” I’ve taken this to heart over the years, especially when my children were growing up. Not only did I make sure I didn’t build up false hope in them, but I also told them this truth just as my dad told me. Some things bear repeating.
During many years of oppression, the Israelites longed for a season of comfort. There are ample stories in the Old Testament describing their time waiting for the Messiah. Through the centuries, their trials and troubles at the hands of their oppressors gave them more and more reason to hope for deliverance. All these hopes were continually rolled forward to the day the promised Messiah would come and assure their deliverance.
God delivered on his promise to his people, the Israelites. But the deliverer who came from above wasn’t one to deliver them from their oppressors. No, he came to deliver them from themselves. They were looking for someone to push the oppressor back, but Jesus came to deliver them from the even darker abyss of misguided worship and misdirected devotion. In place of this darkness, Jesus came to bring abundance of joy, peace, and unquenchable love. Indeed, Jesus came to adopt us and invite us into covenant relationship with the Living God. Even as we have our own struggles and rough patches, we continue to realize God’s promises – not as a distant promise, but as a comfort for today.
Reflection and Response
God has already come through on many of his promises. As you read through this section of Isaiah 53-54, praise God for his faithfulness to these promises – especially because his faithfulness caused him pain. “For he grew up before him like a young plant…. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.… He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth.… Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him.… He poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors…. ‘For a brief moment I deserted you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In overflowing anger for a moment, I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,’ says the Lord, your Redeemer” (Isaiah 53:2a, 4a, 7a, 10a, 12b; 54:7-8).
By Rich Obrecht