Celebrate the Unexpected

A certain post has been circulating around Facebook recently. After being randomly assigned a number, a Facebook friend writes interesting facts about herself according to the assigned number. From these posts, I have learned

  1. that if I will just ask, I may be able to ride an elephant in a parade
  2. that my friend received her marriage proposal in a horse-drawn carriage in Central Park
  3. that a mom who supports the interested of her children will find a way to drive an SUV pulling a trailer of cattle downtown Houston, if needed

What makes these posts so fun to read is the “unexpected factor.” Would I have guessed these gals that I know have had these unique experiences? I am reminded that there is life outside of the daily grind, something unexpected and unimaginable.

A well-known prophecy concerning Christ is often quoted and sung at Christmastime. This prophecy, spoken by Isaiah to the disobedient children of Israel, is a list of four descriptions of the Messiah. This list also has the “unexpected factor,” considering the context of the daily lives of the people.

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;

And the government will rest on His shoulders;

And His name will be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

The People

At the time this prophecy was spoken, the children of Israel had quite a history. Though a tiny people, with no personal claim of strength, Israel was chosen by God to be the instrument for bringing salvation to the world. God had worked mightily and mercifully in the formation of this people: freeing them from cruel slavery, defeating enemies in the Promised Land, providing in abundance their every need. Yet, the recurrent theme of this history was the act of faithlessness on the part of the people. When Isaiah addressed the nation of Judah, Israel had been divided into two kingdoms, Israel and Judah. Both nations were living in immorality, excess, violence, and lack of concern for the poor. They were being threatened by the strength of other nations. They were headed for judgment.

The Disconnect

The indictment on the nation was the fact that Israel and Judah did not reflect the holiness of their God. Their God was the God of unity and reconciliation, of faithfulness and mercy. Other nations described their gods as holy, or set apart, just as the Israelites did. The difference between Israel and other nations is that Israel’s God described Himself as holy in righteousness.*

 But The Lord of hosts will be exalted in judgment, and the holy God will show Himself holy in righteousness. (Is 5:16)

 

They did not understand that the one true God was greater than all powers of creation, and that He would judge righteously between the nations. Interestingly, God was not surprised by the character of the people. Romans says that all fall short of God’s glory, all of us fail to emulate the great glory of God (3:23). Every person can find a reflection of themselves in the people of Israel.

“Come now and let us reason together,” says the Lord, “though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.” (Is 1:18)

Repeatedly, God called to the people and received a response of disobedience. Yet, God was not bound by the disobedience of the people. The unexpected and unimaginable was to occur.

 

The Promise

God would send One who would be boundless in righteousness. God would send a Wonderful Counselor, such that his words would be beyond human imagination. God would send a Mighty Leader that no power on earth could overcome. God would send One who would eternally be a Father to them. God would send a Ruler of Peace ending brokenness in human relationships and brokenness between God and Man. God would send Himself! He would arrive in the most unexpected way, in the life of a baby.

“Mary’s Song”

By Luci Shaw

Blue homespun and the bend of my breast

keep warm this small hot naked star

fallen to my arms. (Rest. . .

you who have had so far

to come.) Now nearness satisfies

the body of God sweetly. Quiet he lies

whose vigor hurled

a universe. He sleeps

whose eyelids have not closed before.

His breath (so slight it seems

no breath at all) once ruffled the dark deeps

to sprout a world.

Charmed by dove’s voices, the whisper of straw,

he dreams,

having no music from his other spheres.

Breath, mouth, ear, eyes,

he is curtailed

who overflowed all skies.

all years.

Older than eternity now he

is new. Now native to earth as I am, nailed

to my poor planet, caught that I might be free,

blind in my womb to know my darkness ended,

brought to this birth

for me to be new-born,

and for him to see me mended

I must see him torn.

The unexpected and unimaginable love of the Father showed itself in the birth of the Son, Jesus. God’s plan, more powerful that the failings of humanity, was accomplished. Praise the Lord for indescribable gift.

I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene, and wonder how He could love me, a sinner condemned uncleaned.

How marvelous, how wonderful

And my song shall ever be

How marvelous, how wonderful

Is my Savior’s love for me.

 

Please join me in praying for the opportunity to share Christ with at least one person this Christmas season!

*John N. Oswald, The Book of Isaiah, Chapters 1-39, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans Publishing,1986), p. 162.

**”I Stand Amazed in the Presence,” by Charles H. Gabriel.