Daily Prayer Guide: Sunday Dec 6

Bible Reading

Isaiah 8:19-9:7

19 Now if people say to you, “Consult the ghosts and the familiar spirits that chirp and mutter; should not a people consult their gods, the dead on behalf of the living,  20 for teaching and for instruction?” Surely, those who speak like this will have no dawn!  21 They will pass through the land, greatly distressed and hungry; when they are hungry, they will be enraged and will curse their king and their gods. They will turn their faces upward,  22 or they will look to the earth, but will see only distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish; and they will be thrust into thick darkness.

9:1 But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.  2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness– on them light has shined.  3 You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder.  4 For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian.  5 For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire.

6 For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  7 His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

Meditation

Like the opening scenes of Genesis, this dramatic section of verses begins with the earth full of  “distress, darkness and fearful gloom” before shifting to a pregnant “nevertheless” of a “people who walked in darkness who have seen a great light”. Vivid descriptions of great joy quickly follow, such as the rejoicing in a fruitful harvest or the jubilation after the complete and unlikely victory of a crucial, final battle.

As illustration, Isaiah deliberately chose to bring up the dismal memory of the ancient enemy Midian. These ruthless Midianites would periodically swoop down to destroy all that Israel possessed including crops and animals and “did not spare a living thing for Israel” (see Judges ch. 6). Israel was left completely impoverished, defeated and without hope until the Lord raised up Gideon, an unlikely deliverer. As Isaiah mentions ancient Midianite foe, there is an explicit echo of not only the dark past but also the future promise of an ultimate fulfillment in an anticipated redeemer king. Countless times Israel had been without resources or hope except for the rescue of the Lord their God.

We too are mirrored in this story. Humanly speaking, despite our outward abundances we are also terminally inadequate. We are all a people of limited resources in a world of continual and pervasive personal and global neediness. We all long for rescue. We all need hope.

Isaiah sweeps us along with vibrant imagery. We see and feel a wide-ranging scope of seismic transformations. We are compelled to ride a rollercoaster of powerful depictions of birth and battles, devastation and delight, chaos and calm. Isaiah summons us all from the “distress, darkness and the fearful gloom of the shadow of death” to the incomprehensible gift of the birth of a redeemer king who not only brings peace, justice and righteousness, but who is our eternal God. These words resonate deeply within us and lift us out of our own darkness and into the light of hope, the possibility of joy.

Within these potent and prophetic words, we hear that God not only notices our distress and willingly responds, but that He passionately intends and personally invests in our final good. We see ourselves delivered once again as our savior is born, birthing us into a new world of hope and redemption.

Reflection and Prayer

Reread verse 4. Reflect for a few moments on a time when you experienced God “shattering a yoke that burdened” you.

There may have been a dark time without hope that God has somehow rescued you out of. Remember what that felt like.

In that remembrance, feel God’s love and care for you.  Know that His love and care will always be available to you.

Pray a few words of gratitude and thanksgiving. Rejoice in the hope that Christ brings to you personally.

Written by Diane Peters

Click here to download Week 2 Prayer Guide: Sun Dec 6-Sat Dec 12

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Love All

Act Local: Share gifts of time and resources with those in our community. At the Impact Tree in the Atrium, find opportunities available for individuals, families and life groups. All the information you need will be on the cards by the Tree. Take a card – put an ornament on the tree.

Give Global: On Sunday, December 13 during services, we'll take up an Advent Conspiracy offering (a direct result of spending less) to give towards clean water projects and wheelchair needs in Honduras, Kenya and Romania. If you won’t be able to join us at services on that day but still want to participate, just write "Advent" in the memo of your check and drop it in any of the offering boxes.


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