Archives For Isaiah


Lesson #4 – What are the implications of advent?

INTRODUCTION

Hopefully, if done right, this lesson will be delivered around (or on) Christmas day and will be good for discussion.  Please feel free to go over what has been taught and learned in the previous four weeks and discuss any revelations that have occurred amongst the students during this focused time.

ILLUSTRATION:  What we are going to emphasize today is the biggest component of Advent: Waiting.  What I want you to do is to introduce the class that we are going to talk about the implications of advent.  Then what I want you to do next is wait.  Don’t say anything, don’t do anything but just sit there.  You can do it for one minute or three minutes.  Inevitably teenagers are going to give you weird looks because they can’t stand 15 seconds of silence let alone a full-blown minute.

ASK…

WAS IT HARD FOR YOU TO WAIT?  WHY OR WHY NOT? 

WHAT IS IT ABOUT US THAT DRIVES US INSANE WHEN IT COMES TO WAITING? 

SAY…

[You can use your own personal story that emphasizes our impatience] I can’t stand to wait!  If a web page on my iPhone does not come up in less than four seconds I become angry.  If I don’t get my Wendy’s Baconator in less than three minutes then I get irate.  I mean how long does it take to throw half a pig on half a cow and throw some cheese in there?  Come on people!!!  We all struggle with waiting because of the digitized, fast-food mindset of Western Culture where we have to experience things right now.

This lesson is to allow us to focus on being ready for Jesus to come with patience but also with anticipation.  This lesson is short, but simple.  Here is the bare outline.

BODY

Two things…

Waiting means we must be ready!

“So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Matt. 24:44).

“It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak” (Luke 12:38).

4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.  (1 Thess. 5:4-11).

ASK…

IN WHAT WAYS DO WE NEED TO BE READY FOR THE SECOND COMING OF THE LORD?

SAY…

When Jesus came John the Baptist prepared the way for the people compelling them to repent for the “kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mark 1:1-8).  In like manner we are compelled to be ready no matter what the cost may be and that means we are to “bring-in” the kingdom of God by being disciples and making disciples.  You hear of people talking about “Christmas cheer” and what they mean is giving gifts and such but the Christmas cheer is that we need to be ready for the coming of the Lord.

ASK…

IN WHAT WAYS ARE PEOPLE NOT GOING TO BE READY FOR THE COMING OF THE LORD?

SAY…

In the first century they thought that Jesus was going to come soon (you could make an argument that Paul even thought that).  Paul was very upset at people who stood around “idle”.  Paul said, “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us” (2 Thess. 3:6).  In other words we have no clue when Christ will come (see 1 Thess. 5:4 above) so we should not give up our labors of spreading good news to the world.

Waiting means we must be drunk with anticipation!

“The LORD Almighty will come with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with windstorm and tempest and flames of a devouring fire.Then the hordes of all the nations that fight against Ariel, that attack her and her fortress and besiege her, will be as it is with a dream, with a vision in the night— as when a hungry person dreams of eating, but awakens hungry still; as when a thirsty person dreams of drinking, but awakens faint and thirsty still. So will it be with the hordes of all the nations that fight against Mount Zion. Be stunned and amazed,  blind yourselves and be sightless; be drunk, but not from wine, stagger, but not from beer” (Isa. 29:6-9).

SAY…

The verse in Isaiah is given to talk about a time when the Messiah will reign from Zion and the people will be drawn towards his reign.  The kicker for the Christian is that Jesus now reigns (i.e. his “kingdom”) and Jesus will always reign.  We need to be intoxicated with anticipation at what we can participate in and what God has called us to do.  “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:13-14).

ASK…

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT WHEN YOU HEAR THE WORD “ANTICIPATION”?  WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

SAY…

I remember the birth of my first son (Kaleb) and the weeks felt like years until he finally came into this world.  There was excitement, fear, desire, longing, responsibility and humility all wrapped-up in a box known as anticipation.  It means we become ready for something and eagerly long for it.

ASK…

IN WHAT WAYS DO YOU/ARE YOU ANTICIPATE(ING) THE LORD’S RETURN?

CONCLUSION

SAY…

To anticipate for something you must have some sort of desire to fuel that anticipation.  Anticipating the Lord’s return gets me excited because of a single group of verses:

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.  There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 22:1-5).

This is the final moment when the Lord returns and the new heavens and new earth form and all things become completely new.  It is when the curse of Adam is ultimately lifted and mankind is allowed to enter Eden again.  It is where we participate in complete union with God and with his risen saints and we join in the eschaton at the table (see Isaiah 25:6-9) and feast forever.  No tears, no sorrows, no pain, no suffering…peace, perfect peace.

Enjoy this video and I hope you enjoyed this series.  We all can join the early Christians in a popular saying called Maranatha.  It simple means, “Come, Lord” (see Rev. 22:20).  So, “Come, Lord Jesus…Come!”

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This is the last post of this series and I have valued all of the comments tremendously.  The series started not as a defense of social drinking but merely was it ok to be present at a location as a means of mission to people.  Sometimes posts have a mind of their own and it just leads in a different direction.  I loved it though because topics like this need to be discussed in a thoughtful, biblical and humane manner.  Too often we ignore something based on our assumption that it has always been a certain way so we need to keep it that way.  We should never dismiss comments or questions because we assume we are right on a subject.

The poll, to my surprise, indicated that most of you (66%) believe that it is ok for a Christian to drink in moderation.  This topic will surely find no resolve in the coming words but I wanted to share some observations on our discussion.  Hope you enjoy these.

  • A helpful study of the original words does help in our theology but we must do our homework.  Don’t assume a word means something without looking it up in some of the major lexicons and dictionaries.
  • Image is important but image is not everything.  Sometimes our perception of what a Christian should be is (ironically) the opposite of what Jesus said a person should be.  I wonder if Jesus would have been disfellowshipped in some of our churches today for what he would do?  Just a thought….
  • In regards to social drinking one must consider his or her motives.  I still can’t get away from this.  Why are you drinking?  Is it to feel a feeling or, like Samuel Young said in one of his comments, is it to appreciate something God made?  Motives are important.  It is doubtful someone would use Paul’s encouragement to Timothy to use wine for his infirmities but they may be looking to clear his or her conscience.  But…
  • We need to be careful where we place our judgment.  This issue is not limited to social drinking but many other aspects where we may be quick to judge before we consider the evidence.  We will know people by their fruits (Matt. 7:16).
  • Be careful about building-up straw men or chasing red herrings.  Arguments like, “What about all of the bad affects of alcohol?” is still side-stepping the real issue.  I heard one person give all of the statistics about the negative uses (abuse) of alcohol like car accidents, marriages, etc.  While I agree with that negative component of alcohol I also think they are simply chasing red herrings.  I wanted to ask him, “How many people die of heart disease from not eating correctly?” (TV, music, etc.)  The issue is, what does the bible say about it not society’s abuse of it.
  • The principle in Romans 14-15 needs careful consideration (especially Rom. 14:21) before anyone considers to take a drink.  I think if we practice self-denial on behalf of others then it might be our spiritual service to God (Rom. 15:1-2).
I will conclude with something from Isaiah.  In Isaiah 25 we come across a break from the woes and destruction of life for a vision of what life will be like in the last days (eschaton).  In discussion of this Isaiah talks about what life will be like post-destruction.  He writes:
6 On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
7And he will swallow up on this mountain
the covering that is cast over all peoples,
the veil that is spread over all nations.

8 He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. (25:6-8)

Sounds a little like Revelation 19-22…the new heavens and the new earth.  Blessings.

Dwell on Christmas and the first things that captivates your thoughts are the gifts under the tree.  However, long before the cups of hot cocoa around a fire of crackling-ambers there was the anticipation of something bigger than what material could offer.  The event we celebrate as Jesus’ birth was the righting of wrongs and Isaiah, long before the gospels, (7:14) was told of a virgin who would bear a son and that his name would be called Immanuel (Hebrew for “God with us”).  David, long before Isaiah, talked about a king who reign on a holy hill (Zion) and that all who take refuge in this person would be blessed (Psalm 2).  Ruth, long before David, had her world rocked when her husband died but was able to wed Boaz who became the father of Obed, who was the father of Jesse, the father of David where the lineage of Christ comes from (Ruth 4:17).

In Isaiah there are four servant songs (Isaiah 42:1-9; 49:1-13; 50:4-9; 52:12-53:12) that define the chosen one who will bring justice to all nations and that he will be a light to all nations but will do so through suffering and ridicule.  If that does not stir you to praise then think about this very carefully:

Imagine being displaced from your home to a foreign nation only to be oppressed, mistreated and forced to serve as indentured servants.  You hear a prophet declaring to you that “from the root of Jesse” will come hope for the nation of Israel (see Isaiah 11:1) but it has not come yet.  So days, weeks, months and years pass and still there is no mashiach (Hebrew word for Messiah meaning “anointed one”) and your hopes grow stronger in anticipation with each passing second.  You long for something better to make everything complete as it was said (or at least told) to you from the Rabbi.

This was the state for Israel and then…just as it was prophesied…God came to this world and Mary bore a son and named him, Jesus.  Imagine growing up listening to teaching after teaching about this mashiach who would redeem mankind and now He is here!  Now He is here.

So how do we respond to this?  Look at how the angels responded:

13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”  (Luke 2:13-14).

I think that is an excellent starting point.  Worship!  The moment God came down to be with us is the moment where everything suddenly became right and now the plan was established for the salvation of all souls.  Tom Wright, in Simply Christian, words it best.

“So what is Christianity about then?  Christianity is all about the belief that the living God, in fulfillment of his promises and as the climax of the story of Israel, has accomplished all of this—the finding, the saving, the giving of new life—in Jesus.  He has done it.  With Jesus, God’s rescue operation has been put into effect once and for all.  A great door has swung open in the cosmos which can never again be shut.  It’s the door to the prison where we’ve been kept chained up.  We are offered freedom: freedom to experience God’s rescue for ourselves, to go through the open door and explore the new world to which we now have access.  In particular, we are all invited—summoned actually—to discover, through following Jesus, that this new world is indeed a place of justice, spirituality, relationship, and beauty, and that we are not only to enjoy it as such but to work at bringing it to birth on earth as in heaven.  In listening to Jesus, we discover whose voice it is that has echoed around the hearts and minds of the human race all along.”[1]

That echo comes from one source…the birth of Jesus.  Rejoice friends…Salvation is here! 


[1].  N. T. Wright, Simply Christian (New York: HarperOne, 2006): 92.