Isaiah 58? Whatever happened to Luke and Matthew with the stories of the manger and the inn, the Wise Men, and angels with Mary and Joseph and the babe wrapped in swaddling cloths? Wouldn’t those be more appropriate? Don’t get me wrong. I’m not taking any shortcuts, leaving out the best parts. I want to dig into a different vein. Golden nuggets from a different part of the Word of God.
Isaiah 58–why Jesus came? The ‘why’ of Christmas. Our sin shouted our need for God right into the heavens themselves. Verses 2-4 tell of people who claim the name of God, but who live lives filled with pride and arrogance. Thinking themselves high-and-mighty when in reality they live in a far country, far away from God, down-and-out. Sadly, they don’t even realize it.
Verse 5 sheds more light on God’s complaint–His people are His, they say, but only in a superficial way. In name only, a hint, a smidgen of the Lord. Shallow… with a faith that evaporates at the first sign of heat. Religious acts, and nothing more… and a lot less. Formality that’s smoke and mirrors.
That’s why Jesus came. To free us from that thin veneer of faith to something that permeates deep within, to the very marrow of our bones. Ritual acts that now result in actions of caring and helping, supporting and encouraging. Isaiah 58: 6 and following describe an alive faith, a relationship with the Lord that reaches out to others to help as best we can.
That’s what God did for us at Christmas. He reached out to us. He didn’t send a postcard, an annual letter or a posting on Facebook. No, He sent His very best, His only Son. His actions spoke louder than mere words ever could.
This Christmas let’s not only go through the motions. Let’s welcome the Messiah! Let’s meditate on His generous mercy given for you and me! And let’s be motivated to be a helping hand to someone else. Then, this will be a Merry Christmas!
Prayer: Dear Lord, for all your gifts we thank you today. But for Jesus, the gift at Christmas, we pause to life high His name…with a grateful heart. In His name. Amen.