“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” Psalm 8:1-4
Listen to this song while you read the post below: Love Came Down by Brian and Jenn Johnson (Bethel Music)
I had the opportunity to teach an overview of the book of Isaiah a few days ago. One of the things I love about the prophets is the manner in which God called them to their prophetic ministry – and how that calling is recorded in the scripture. Whether it was through a burning bush to Moses, a voice in the night to Samuel, or a vision of the throne for Isaiah, it is thrilling to read.
In Isaiah chapter six, when the prophet is ushered into the presence of God, and sees the six-winged Seraphim crying out “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of Hosts…” he is struck by two undeniable realities.
- Isaiah sees the unquestionable holiness of God
- He gains a clear sense of himself in relation to this holy God. He becomes suddenly, succinctly self-aware.
I told the class to pay close attention to his response, because it is the way I believe all of us would – and certainly should – respond, “woe is me for I am a man of unclean lips!” Isaiah sees just how sinful he is, and goes further to see how sinful all people are. But also notice how God responds. Yes, Isaiah is sinful, unclean, unworthy to be in the presence of a holy God – and God does something about it. He is mindful of Isaiah’s plight and initiates atonement.
In Isaiah’s life and in his prophetic ministry, the people of God came to experience catastrophic loss and dispersion from the place where they understood the presence of God to be for them. The promise of God’s people seems lost forever. But God will traverse all of the world to reclaim that which was lost. “Immanuel” was the name on Isaiah’s lips.
Christmas has become the consumerist product of the selfishly, self-indulgent society we’ve become (my opinion). This is probably symptomatic of how love has taken such a self-centered meaning in our present culture and context. I think that’s probably because we’ve mixed up “grace” for “love” and have a woefully inadequate view of them both.
Christmastime, rather, should be the season when we recognize just how sinful we all are and just how mindful God is of us that he would initiate atonement for us all. This mindfulness really is love. “For God so loved the world that he sent his one and only son…” Love really came down at Christmastime.