Saturday, December 8, 2012

Advent VII

Hope is a much needed commodity for humanity.  Without it there is little left to keep us going.  It does not matter about our age, our income level, or the century in which we live.   More important than we often realize is this intangible thing called hope.  Certainly, the ancient Hebrews who found themselves living in Babylon as exiles had a great need for it.  Without hope for a better day, without hope that God would once again act in mercy and restore them, they would have surely ceased to exist as a nation of people.  Reading the dialogue found in chapters 63, 64, and 65 of Isaiah reveals this and much more to us. 
From the perspective of the people, they are in a mess because God made them stray from the way of righteousness by separating Himself from them.  There is this all too familiar theme of "God,it is Your fault!" running through the part of the dialogue that comes from the exiled Hebrews.  As God responds He does so by reminding the people they have it wrong.  "I was ready to be sought out by those who did not ask, to be found by those who did not seek Me....I held out My hands all day long to a rebellious people..." (65:1)  With the Hebrews there is this  mixture of repentance  and self vindication.  With God there is a strong word about accountability and an even stronger word about what He is going to do to restore His people to a spirit of rejoicing.

These exiled sinners had every reason to hope.  Though they had made some terrible choices, God had made the choice not to give up on them.  History has a way of repeating itself again and again.  As we move into Advent we are certainly mindful that we have messed up in many ways, but what we anticipate in the Christ-event is a sure reminder that God has made a way for us to be restored to wholeness and joy.  The good news is there is hope for all who have strayed from the ways of God, even if they are folks like you and me.

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