"Fear at Christmas"

A glance through the headlines sets off a warning siren in our collective soul. One country, reeling from years of civil war, reports more than 2,000 civilians killed in 2 months. No tribe, no nation, no people-group is free from the threat of violence.

It's a tired tune we've heard down through the ages. More than 700 years before Christ, Judah's King Ahaz trembled at the looming onslaught from Israel and Syria (Isaiah 7:2). Then the prophet Isaiah brought him good news . . . and bad. Israel and Syria would not invade (vv.7-9). Egypt and Assyria, however, would pick the nation clean with a "razor" (vv.17-25). It was in the midst of this gloom and doom that God made the remarkable announcement of a coming Deliverer. In 7:14, the prophet mentions a child who would be called "Immanuel", God is with us. That prophecy had one fulfillment in Isaiah's time. But centuries later, an angel told Joseph that Isaiah's prophetic words would be ultimately fulfilled in the Christ-child his fiancée was carrying (Matthew 1:23).

We worship and adore that tiny baby in the manger scene. Yet, in divine irony, the helpless Babe is also the "Lord of Heaven's Armies" who is mentioned 60 times in Isaiah alone! (8:13,18).

Perhaps that's why the Lord gave a "strong warning" to Isaiah "not to think like everyone else" (8:11). He said, "Don't call everything a conspiracy, like they do, and don't live in dread of what frightens them. Make the Lord of Heaven's Armies holy in your life. He is the One you should fear. He is the One who should make you tremble" (vv.12-13). Are you fearful this Christmas season? "His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of His ancestor David for all eternity" (Isaiah 9:7). Better news is on the way. , Tim Gustafson, Our Daily Journey

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