I don’t know another season that can so easily hold two diametrically opposed emotions, especially for those of us more advanced in years. Christmas for me is a joyous time, my favorite season of the year, yet in some ways, it is a time of reflection blended with a touch of sadness. I am thrilled when our family all gathers together as one, swapping stories, being silly, and catching up on news, yet sadness wells deep within as I find myself secretly yearning for the years when those children were young, and they filled our home with excitement, anticipation, and Christmas chaos. I cherish the opportunity to shower my precious grandchildren with all the love I can muster, but quietly I miss the kind smile of my own mom who has been gone from us far too long and who made Christmas so special for me. And as I try to take in every new memory, I come to the clear realization that most of my joyous Christmas celebrations are behind me.
The prophets Isaiah and Micah ministered during the same time frame, to the same people, with the same twofold message, judgment and hope. Punishment would come “For the transgression of Jacob…and for the sins of the house of Israel.” God’s patience was waning and now His people were being warned that “many nations are gathered against thee,” coming in judgment to a complacent people drowning in self-serving interests, greed, injustice, and superficial worship.
But against this gloomy backdrop of judgment, hope shines ever so brightly. God could not overlook Israel’s sin, but neither would He overlook His promise of a Redeemer, the One Who would crush the serpent, “But thou, Bethlehem, Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” “Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son; and shall call his name Immanuel.” “And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Hope breaks eternal in the midst of deserved judgment!
What joyous news from these two men of God! Hope would be born in Bethlehem. God’s Son would take on flesh and be born of a virgin! But while both Micah and Isaiah are prophets of birth, it is Isaiah who reminds us that the purpose of His birth was to make way for His death, for this Babe of Bethlehem would grow and ultimately be “wounded for our transgressions…bruised for our iniquities.” This Baby of hope would suffer God’s ultimate judgment for us, death on a cross. Joy and sadness, judgment and hope, birth and death…Christmas.
II Corinthians 9:15 Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.
Thank You, Lord, for a lifetime of wondrous Christmas memories, and how overwhelming the love that was on display in that blessed manger in Bethlehem. Thank You for sending Your Son to die for me.<div class='sharedaddy sd-block sd-like jetpack-likes-widget-wrapper jetpack-likes-widget-unloaded' id='like-post-wrapper-164683012-1129-62b94e64381ff' data-src='https://widgets.wp.com/likes/#blog_id=164683012&post_id=1129&origin=wordpress.grandmasgleanings.com&obj_id=164683012-1129-62b94e64381ff' data-name='like-post-frame-164683012-1129-62b94e64381ff' data-title='Like or Reblog'><h3 class="sd-title">Like this:</h3><div class='likes-widget-placeholder post-likes-widget-placeholder' style='height: 55px;'><span class='button'><span>Like</span></span> <span class="loading">Loading...</span></div><span class='sd-text-color'></span><a class='sd-link-color'></a></div>