"The LORD looked and was displeased
that there was no justice.
He saw that there was no one,
He was appalled that there was no one to intervene;
so His own arm worked salvation for Him
and His own righteousness sustained Him.
The Redeemer will come to Zion,
to those in Jacob who repent of their sins."
- Isaiah 59: 15b-16, 20
Two more days. Two more days until Christmas! Two more days until the waiting is over. Two more days until we celebrate the greatest Gift ever given...
The picture painted in the chapter we read in Isaiah today is bleak: "So justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us. We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows... We look for justice, but find none; for deliverance, but it is far away." (Isaiah 59:9, 11b) But we have the advantage of looking back and knowing that God's plan was already in place. Isaiah's words prophesied the coming of a Redeemer, who would come "to those who repent" - and come He did.
His cousin, John, was confirmed by all four gospels as the one Isaiah spoke of as "the voice of one calling, 'In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.'" (Isaiah 40:3, Matthew 3:3, Mark 1:3, Luke 3:4, John 1:23), and on the day John was named, his father Zechariah prophesied over him: "you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for Him, to give His people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God..." (Luke 1: 76-78a) John preached a gospel of repentance, and the Redeemer came.
And the beauty of it is that He still comes. Every time someone turns in repentance, they will find their Redeemer near. Zechariah described Him as "the rising sun" who - because of God's tender mercy - "will come to us from heaven, to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace." (Luke 1:78b-79 He is the One we have waited for, all this Advent. He is the One who shines brightly against the darkness, which can neither understand nor overcome Him. He is the One who shines the light of His love and mercy and forgiveness and compassion into the darkest corners of our hearts and minds, and freely gives us grace.
There are so many places in the world that are still waiting for Him. So many places and people crying out for justice... and for righteousness (right standing with God). Reflect Him, these next two days. Allow the One whose Spirit indwells you to shine forth through you, and bring light to the darkness. Be hope, be peace, be joy, be love to the people around you, right where you are, no matter how tired or crabby or mean or uncaring they may appear to be. There's no telling what kind of miracles could take place if you do. The people Isaiah described included some who were growling like bears and some who were mourning like doves - and who knows but that the seemingly angry or desperately sad people you may encounter this Christmas season are simply looking for justice and righteousness and not finding it? But you know the One they are searching for. So do what you can to reflect His glory, and leave the rest to Him. It is His kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4), and He wants everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). So put your hope in Him for your friends and family and neighbors and even the strangers that you meet who still seem to be waiting for their Redeemer, and simply reflect His love to them as you celebrate your own salvation and the coming of our King, who came, and is here, and will come again.