Don’t be expecting a Christmas card from us until well nigh Christmas Eve, if then. We scrambled to get a picture that was decent enough to even print out. And we only did that a few days ago. It’s funny to me that in a house with 2 candy advent calendars, a nativity advent calendar, a lego advent calendar, and a Jesse tree, somehow it keeps slipping my mind how close to Christmas we are coming!
Alas, we will get our postcards out eventually, but in the meanwhile, we are loving our advent ritual in the morning. By our ritual, I mean our kids bursting out of bed entirely too early to open their Lego window for the day and eat that thin piece of prepackaged chocolate in the shape of a reindeer or something. Later, after coffee and the whirlwind of morning playing, we do our Jesse tree and advent verses. That’s my favorite part. I love that even though they are the same verses each year, they speak such fresh words to my heart and soul.
A few mornings back, my boys and I read Isaiah 9. We have read other verses since, but my heart is stuck in Isaiah 9.
But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in the earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles.
No one would have expected it. It didn’t make any sense. The way by which God would make His people glorious would be an ugly way, an unexpected way, a way by the sea, from Galilee of all places. Later, in plain view of the body of evidence that Christ was indeed the God-Man, His miracles, His words, His uncommon way of life, people would stop following Him, saying, “Surely the Christ is not going to come from Galilee is he?” (John 7:41). That’s how unexpected it was that anything good would come from Galilee.
I love that we serve a God who makes glorious people, places, and things out of mundane, ordinary, broken and bruised people, places, and things. I love that He brings glory and beauty “by way of the sea.”
Isaiah, filled and inspired and moved by the Spirit of God, continues to paint a picture of how God shall make a poor dessert wasteland glorious, all loaded with beautiful imagery and promises. But what stood out to me this year, what I cannot get passed in my mind are verses 4, 5, & 6.
For You shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders. The rod of their oppressor, as at the battle of Midian. For every boot of the booted warrior in the battle tumult, and cloak rolled in blood will be for burning, fuel for the fire. For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us, and the government will rest on His shoulders.
Of course the people knew, Isaiah knew, we know, that the yoke of oppression, violence, sin, brokenness must be lifted. But the way that God would lift that would be another unusual path, a “way by the sea.” He wouldn’t end oppression with war. So many wars have been fought in history in attempts to stop oppression, violence, sin. And they may avail for a season. But the boots of the booted warriors and the bloodied cloaks will be done away with. He will bring His kingdom of peace another way.
He is not an average or even a good king, though many such kings have existed. He is not a booted warrior trying to bring peace and advance his kingdom in a human way. He is a barefoot king.
The Barefoot King
At best human kings shine brightly
But every kingdom smoulders.
For the pomp, the position, the power
Still lay on human shoulders.
And blood and conquest and armies
Cannot remove all boulders.
Even David, the poet-shepherd,
A king of the highest edition,
Wore the bloodied boots of war,
Was stained by human ambition.
If he, even he, faded and failed,
What hope for the human condition?
The One who penned the dismal scene
Had a hero waiting in the wing.
From the beginning, He had in mind
A better, A barefooted king
Who, without bloodied boots,
A peaceful kingdom would bring.
The better king’s coronation
Took place on an unlikely hill.
Though He never fought in war,
Of death He drank His fill.
His bloodied heals brought our peace.
All kings will praise Him still.