By John Alwood
Many voices around us proclaim a bleak and hopeless future. Current trends in film, novels, music, and news do not depict a prosperous and abundant future (nor present, for that matter). It seems that our culture’s general tone is consumed by abject fear, worry, and pessimism. Yet behind all of this is a deep yearning for something better.
It is at that point of yearning where Jesus meets us.
In stark contrast to the voices of our time, Isaiah paints a picture of the future that is far beyond “good enough.” According to this vision, the coming of Christ brings more than merely a good prognosis. Everything is made better when Jesus comes on the scene. He brings echoes of Eden and the promise of certain and complete restoration. The blind see, the deaf hear, and the mute sing. Once assumed to be permanent, those horrid conditions are now miraculously healed. The formerly destitute physical and spiritual settings around us are now marked by abundance. Not only is this is the life God has planned for the future of his people, it is also a present reality in which the faithful are to live.
In reading Isaiah’s prophecy, we might be tempted to think that we are not faithful enough to embark on “the way of holiness.” Here’s the good news: Jesus is good enough, and he leads those of us—even those of us who are fools—on the pilgrimage. He has provided everything we need to follow him on the way toward Isaiah’s picture of wholeness. He gives clear direction so we can’t miss it. He preserves us in the midst of physical and spiritual attacks. Something makes God’s people different from the world. No matter where we are, what we’ve done, or the circumstances we’ve been through, we anticipate Jesus. We know he brings a hope that gives us joy and gladness.
Questions to contemplate:
- Have the voices in our world crowded out any of my joy and hope in Christ? How?
- If Isaiah’s vision is something I can taste today through faith in Christ, how would I like to experience it? What is keeping me from experiencing this sort of life?
- How, specifically, can I display Isaiah’s vision through my words and deeds to a world that desperately needs hope?
Prayer: God of abundance, you are lavish in the way you gave us your Son to lead. Help us follow him into echoes of Eden and the promise of certain and complete restoration.
John Alwood is president and director of Gospel Ventures Network, an RCA church planting partner. The 2016 Advent devotions were written by RCA church planters and parent churches.