Read Isaiah 62:3-5
My mom saved up money for the entire year to buy my dad a new guitar. It was a surprise; he had no idea it was coming. We were all in on it. I can remember us hiding it in the closet on Christmas morning so he couldn’t see it when he first walked down the stairs. We were all waiting for the perfect time for the great reveal. I still can see his face when he discovered what it was, realized the sacrifice it took to get it, and saw not just a guitar, but the gift of love.
There is something joyous about giving a great present. It’s one way to communicate great love. It’s not so much about the gift itself – my dad has since moved on to another guitar. It’s about the way that a gift can affirm affection. The gift allows the recipient to look at the giver and consider how deeply they are loved. That’s the power of a gift. And it’s a power that the nation of Israel knew well.
One of the roles of a prophet was to declare that God was on the move and that he had good in store for his people. The prophet Isaiah points to a time when the fortunes of Israel would be restored – when their pain, sorrow, and abuse would be exchanged for blessing and hope (Isaiah 61). This would have been unthinkable for a generation that knew nothing but exile. It was as if the prophet went over to the proverbial closet and pulled out the great gift – the gift of restoration.
It’s in this gift that Israel boasts (61:6). They knew that they were loved because they had seen the hand of God move on their behalf. They anticipated the gift and relished in the lavish love of the giver. In the following chapter, Isaiah claimed that Israel is called “My Delight is in Her” (Isaiah 62:4-5). He claimed they were a “crown of beauty” and a “royal diadem” in the hands of God. What love! And they received it. And they soaked in it. And they boasted in it.
Reflection and Response
Advent is a time for waiting, but it’s also a time for boasting in God’s great gift to us: his son. “For God so loved the world that he sent his only son” (John 3:16). Christmas reminds us that we are loved. This Christmas, receive that truth – and boast in it. God’s gift was given to you and for you because his delight is in you. Tell someone else about God’s radical love today.
By Ryan Paulson