I feel sorry for those Christians who believe, or worse yet are taught, that the Old Testament no longer applies to the modern church. One would have to ask if that was true, then why would God have written it? Nevertheless, an honest reading and seeking of God’s truth in the Old Testament results in the Holy Spirit speaking from it. It is a treasure of good news.
I try to always use Jesus as my model and when He began His ministry, He went to the synagogue and read from the Book of Isaiah:
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Isaiah 61:1-2a)
When Jesus had finished reading that Messianic text, He did something that could have gotten Him stoned for speaking blasphemy:
“Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21b)
Now those who heard Jesus say this did not consider it blasphemy; Luke records that many marveled at the words. Perhaps they did not fully understand what Jesus was saying, as was the case so many times when Jesus spoke. Or perhaps it was that this blessed text from which Jesus read blessed their hearts as it did mine this morning. My Bible subtitles Isaiah 61 as “The Good News of Salvation.”
The Prophet Isaiah tells us that God will give us “beauty for ashes.” God is our Great Comforter; He is Jehovah-Rapha, the Lord Who heals. When we are completely defeated, that is when God can do a complete work in us:
“The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)
Many of you may be facing a difficult time right now, robbing you of the joy of Christmas. Some may be facing financial difficulties; I know some of you are facing disease and illness. Others may just not have any “Christmas spirit” because of the pressures of the season. Regardless your malaise, I encourage you to turn your eyes upon God, who sent His only Son to heal our broken hearts, and to set us free from the bondage of sin. He is our hiding place during the storms of life:
“For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.” (Psalm 27:5)
Christmas was never meant to be a time of stress; it is a time of rejoicing. As Steven Curtis Chapman sings, “God heard creation crying and He sent heaven to earth.”
That is what the birth of Jesus Christ represents. It is God coming to our rescue. It is Immanuel; God with us, taking upon the sins of the world, and giving the greatest gift man has ever received.
The Prophet Isaiah also gave us another great message for which to rejoice. It comes from the same chapter from which Jesus read. It truly is the good news of the Old Testament and it continues on into the New Testament and to us today:
“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10)
Beloved, my Christmas prayer for you is that you will be joyful in the Lord Jesus Christ. I pray that He has clothed you with the garments of salvation and that today you wear the robe of righteousness.
You may try to dress yourself in your own self-righteousness and looking in the mirror you momentarily see what you like. However, if you take time to look closely, you’ll see yourself as Christ sees you: a child needing salvation dressing him or herself in the filthy rags of human works, hoping to be presentable to the King.
Won’t you allow the Heavenly father to adorn you with His righteousness? The best Christmas clothes you can ever wear are those in which Jesus clothes you. Then you can join in with the chorus of whom Isaiah speaks of in his last verse in chapter 61:
“So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.”
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Copyright © 2014 David Jeffers