Reading through the Old Testament this year, I’ve encountered many prophets. Prophecy is not a very glamorous occupation. Most often the prophets walk a tightrope on a sturdy thread of truth from God while the people of God seemed to be on the other end shaking the rope. They’re constantly on the edge of death and continually spared by the Almighty. But spared for what kind of life?
often an example of futile living to an ignorant crowd,
frequently threatened mercilessly by that same crowd.
Prophets were the voice of God to people who seemed to be particularly hard of hearing. Often prophetic news from above was not favorable to their lifestyle here below. So, when the news was as hope-giving as this, I imagine it was with great personal relief that the prophet Isaiah rose to speak to the waiting crowd …
How lovely on the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces peace And brings good news of happiness, Who announces salvation, And says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices, They shout joyfully together; For they will see with their own eyes When the LORD restores Zion.
Break forth, shout joyfully together, You waste places of Jerusalem; For the LORD has comforted His people, He has redeemed Jerusalem.
The LORD has bared His holy arm In the sight of all the nations, That all the ends of the earth may see The salvation of our God. (Isaiah 52:7-10)
Can you hear the sigh of relief between the lines of this song?
Do you sense the lightness in his voice, bright tones as he articulates each word?
Good news, oh yes! But not merely news of a relief effort, a promise of peace – Shalom. For the Hebrews, Shalom isn’t just a greeting or a sentiment. It’s THE sign of God’s presence to experience the mutual flourishing that He alone can give. It’s the hope they cling to during oppression from outside forces.
The song tells us that the One who announces Shalom is the Savior who can fulfill it. We call Him Jesus and during Advent we look toward the horizon like the watchmen waiting for His appearance. As faithful followers we lift up a shout of praise – when we gather for Sunday worship, as we take time out of the busyness for reflection, even when we hum along with Christmas carols in the shopping mall.
Much like prophets of old, we might find ourselves walking a tightrope. Proclaiming the truth of Jesus as the Son of God born as a baby and raised to be our Redeemer can be shaky ground in our culture. We may be tempted to keep quiet and settle for the “ho-ho-ho” of the holidays.
But our world is desperate for the promise of Shalom – broken by shame, laid waste by corruption, blind to the hope of a true King. Will you dare to speak the Truth?
May the anticipation of Jesus this Advent season stir you to courage as you sing with the prophet, “Your God reigns!”
I just love this time of year, don’t you? I can’t help but feel the anticipation of a child as the Christmas season rolls around again. Shereen has started our annual Advent time on the blog with the Song of the Prophet. Be sure to check back each week as we hear from a variety of voices singing the songs of the season. You won’t want to miss it! –KJA