Advent Reflection: News of Joy
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!" Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices; together they shout for joy. When the LORD returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes. Burst into songs of joy together, you ruins of Jerusalem, for the LORD has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem. - Isaiah 52:7-9
If your life is anything like mine, you are uncomfortably familiar with sin and failure. Maybe you've felt discouraged as the depravity within you and in the world around you seems to grow worse and worse. This is the setting of the book of Isaiah. Page after page, the prophet exposes the sin of Jerusalem, the capital city of the people of God. In response, God proclaims a devastating message of judgment upon the city. This nation that was supposed to represent him to the world has rejected him. Death's dark shadow is approaching. Hope is lost.
Here in Isaiah 52, we find ourselves in the shoes (or sandals) of the watchmen on the walls of the city awaiting destruction. Imagine yourself with thoughts of divine judgment swirling through your mind. You're bowed down by the weight of misery. What reason is there to watch for the city? Who can stand against God's justice? But then suddenly you see a messenger in the distance running towards the wall. Bursting with excitement, they're shouting a message that is growing louder and louder: "Good news! Peace! Salvation!" This messenger proclaims a servant that God is sending who will bring forgiveness, comfort, strength to the weak, justice, redemption, satisfaction, provision, righteousness, and cleansing!
You and I know that this servant is none other than God Himself! Jesus has fulfilled the promise to bring us forgiveness, cleanse us from the sin that destroys us, and give us his righteousness. He has come to redeem us, strengthen us, and be our satisfaction. He started this work in us through his death and resurrection and will complete it when he comes back! Like the watchmen who lift up their voices shouting for joy, let us rejoice because darkness no longer looms over us! Emmanuel has come to us! In the words of Charles Wesley:
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With angelic hosts proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem"
Hark! the herald angels sing:
"Glory to the newborn King!"