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February 16, 2016

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For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.
— Isaiah 9:6-7 NIV

New Testament writers more than 40 times directly quote Isaiah and allude to his words much more. Many but not all are about the fulfillment of Messianic prophecies in Jesus Christ. This exact quote from Isaiah 9:6-7 is not found in the New Testament writings. Isaiah 9:2, however, is found in Matthew 4:16 and Luke 1:79. "The people walking in darkness have seen a great light."

What's the point of all this? What do writings from 2,700 years ago have to do with us today? Good question. 

These ancient writings had one big concern: Yahweh's faithful pursuit of His people and the people's faithful response. Pursuit doesn't mean all will be nice for Israel and Judah or the surrounding nations. Isaiah 9:8-10:19 are woes and oracles against Israel, Judah, and Assyria. Though Assyria is the punishing ax in God's hands to chop down Judah, even Assyria will be punished for their pride (10:12). 

Isaiah 10:20-11:16 speaks of a remnant that will come after Judah is chopped down like a tree with Assyria the ax (10:15). God is the lumberjack, Judah the tree, and Assyria God's ax used to punish Judah. But from that tree will come a holy seed (6:13). Isaiah 11 picks up this theme of a remnant and a branch of Jesse, a Davidic king. This may be a vision for the kingdom after the exile, but it also sounds like the long-term plan of the Messiah Jesus Christ who would come 700 years later. Both can be true.


Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. —The Book of Common Prayer


Many Christians opt to give up something for Lent—a particular habit, luxury, food, or activity. Are you giving up anything for Lent this year? Why or why not?


Many Christians opt to give to the poor during Lent. Are you giving to the poor during Lent this year? Why or why not? You may object and say we must give to the poor all during the year. Yes, but if you are not giving to the poor now, this is a good time to focus on it and begin.