The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it. Many peoples shall come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!
Things are not as they are supposed to be. This is something that just about everyone can agree with. Now, we might not all agree as to why, but we can at least agree that things are not as they are meant to be. Many scholars categorize people today as “Postmodern.” Of the myriad descriptions of this term is that Postmoderns no longer believe (as their parents and grandparents did) that they are leaving a better world for their children. No, most Postmoderns believe things are getting steadily worse. This is not to endorse any kind of hatred, resignation, or escapism regarding the world. Rather, it is simply a description of the general mindset people have today. This mindset is influenced to a great deal by the accumulated weight of the “great” wars that have been fought over the past few centuries, and their staggering casualties, the Holocaust, the deployment of Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima & Nagasaki, and the near-constant warfare that has followed – whether the skirmishes have been characterized as “war” or not. Add to this the development of modern terrorism and the plague of shootings all over the USA (in particular), and the climate regarding the future is often one that is bleak.
Advent comes from within a similar mood of bleakness, as do Isaiah’s words from Isaiah 2. As Christians, we are not unique in thinking that things are not as they are meant to be. However, something that does make us fairly-unique is the fact that we believe things are meant to be a certain way. We take our cue for this from the original goodness, peace, or shalom that Creation was said to exist in – a state where heaven and earth dwelled peacefully together. We look to a Savior, a Messiah, who embodied Isaiah’s words in how he handled his aggressors and even his death. We are haunted by a vague, and yet persistent notion of what it might be like to cut down our abundant crops and not each other, to trim our vines and not rival cities or countries, to forget and unlearn the ways of war, so that never again will thousands and millions of soldiers die in war, or innocents be taken in the process. In unlearning war, we will learn peace, we will dwell in it, and we will walk in the light of the Lord all the days of our lives. The only way this will come to pass, is by receiving the Messiah, the Savior, Jesus, by unlearning the ways of sin and death, and by learning his ways. Advent is a time to prepare for this change, a change from our ways to His ways. Don’t kid yourself, preparation is needed.
So, as we begin this Advent season, let us set our sights to the Savior and to his ways. In doing so, let us not look past the violence and brokenness of the world. For it is in recognizing just how not right things are, that we will be able to see just how much we need Jesus to teach us the way that things are meant to be.
Prayer: What do you know about the problems of the world? War, Human Trafficking, Famine, Natural Disasters, Drug Abuse, Racism, Abortion, Violence in General . . . this list could continue on and on. How often do you spend time naming these evils, praying against them, praying for God’s will, and for Christ Jesus’s return, saying “Come, Lord Jesus?” Spend time doing this today. Think, reflect, or journal about such evils, and thus praying for the words of Isaiah to come to pass.