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Tuesday, fourth week of Advent

December 20, 2005

Blessed Tuesday!

O Key of David
And Scepter of the house of Israel
What You open, no one shuts
What You shut, no one opens
Come, deliver from the chains of prison
Those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death

Note the relationship to the following Scripture passages:

Isaiah 22:22
And I will lay the key of the house of David upon his shoulder:
and he shall open, and none shall shut:
and he shall shut, and none shall open.

Isaiah 9:6
For a child is born to us, and a son is given to us,
and the government is upon his shoulder:
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, God the Mighty,
the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 42:7
“…to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness”

Revelation 3:7
The Holy One, the True,
Who holds the key of David,
Who opens and no one shall close,
Who closes and no one shall open

Readings: Isaiah 7:10-14
Psalm 24:1-6 “Let the Lord enter; He is King of Glory”
+ Luke 1:26-38

Again we have a foreshadowing and its ultimate fulfillment. Ahaz, the king of Judah, is in trouble, and he knows it, although he hasn’t quite figured out what caused the problem or how to respond. His sin has brought him military defeat (II Kings 16 & II Chronicles 28) and as the situation grew worse, he appealed to the Assyrians for help. Isaiah, rather wishing this idolatrous king would get the message and turn to God instead, went to the king on God’s behalf. God even offered to prove Himself. “Ask for a sign from the Lord your God; let it be as deep as the nether world, or as high as the sky!” But Ahaz didn’t want a sign. He didn’t want God’s interference. God gave him a sign anyway, promising that the virgin would be with child and bear a son and name him Emmanuel. By the time this child was old enough to know good from evil, the land of Ahaz’ enemies would be deserted (Isaiah 7:10-16).

It’s not clear just who that initial child of promise was. Some say it was the future king Hezekiah, Ahaz’ son, although others note that in the very next chapter we’re told that Isaiah “went to the prophetess and she conceived and bore a son” (Isaiah 8:3). Further, God told Isaiah to name this child, “’Hasten to take away the spoils’…for before the child knows how to call his father or mother by name, the wealth of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria [the enemies of Judah] shall be carried off by the king of Assyria” (Isaiah 8:3-4).

Whatever the case, Ahaz didn’t care. He trusted in Assyria, not God. He plundered the Temple (robbing God!) and his own treasury as payment to Assyria, and Assyria did indeed slaughter his enemies (II Kings 16:9), but they also oppressed his kingdom and led Ahaz even further into idolatry (II Chronicles 28:16-25). All in all, the whole affair ended rather badly.

But the promise, which still pointed ahead to a deeper deliverance, remained. Some 17 or so generations later (see Matthew 1:10-16), an angel brought word to a virgin that she was to bear a son. This son wouldn’t just be a sign of salvation, He would be the Savior, Jesus (a name which means “God saves”). This virgin, Mary, did believe God (as her kinswoman, Elizabeth, would later exclaim to her, “Blest is she who trusted that the Lord’s words to her would be fulfilled”, Luke 1:45). She put herself completely at God’s disposal, saying, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). And Matthew 1:22-23 tells us that this virgin birth was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophesy. Mary’s trusting submission opened the door to our salvation, an ending as glorious as Ahaz’ ending was ignominious.

In the midst of this foreshadowing and fulfillment, we have a profound contrast. It’s the defining difference between sin and salvation. Adam and Eve, who brought the calamity of Original Sin upon us on the first place, said (by their actions), “Let it be done unto me according to my word” or, rephrased, “My will be done”. Ahaz followed their example lockstep, with disastrous consequences. Mary, the New Eve, and Jesus, the new Adam (I Corinthians 15:45), on the contrary, said, “Let it be done unto me according to Your word” (Luke 1:38), and “Not My will, but Thine be done” (Luke 22:42). Their choice did lead to suffering, but it was redemptive suffering, suffering with a purpose, and once endured, it opened out onto a life of eternal glory.

It’s up to us to choose which example we will follow.

May we surrender our lives to the One who has begun a good work in us, that He may bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus (see Philippians 1:6).

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