He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede;
     then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him.
(Isaiah 59:16)

The problem of darkness and hopelessness in yesterday’s reading is answered in today’s. We do not have the resources and answers for our problems in ourselves. The solution has to come from outside of us. God knows this. As he looked down on the earth, he saw that there was no one—not one!—who could undo the damaging effects of sin. Only God himself could work redemption. “A Redeemer will come [advent!] to Zion” (v. 20).

Verse 17 describes God’s coming: he has to arm himself to battle against it sin. You might be thinking, “This doesn’t sound like hope! A warrior-God? This sounds like judgment!” Yesterday, we saw that we are the problem. If that is the case, if we grope for the wall like the blind and we tend to run toward darkness rather than away, what hope is there for us when God arrives on the scene?

God himself comes to do battle, yes, but he does it unlike anything you’d expect. He takes the retribution his enemies deserve. That you deserve. The little baby Jesus that arrived in Bethlehem was light in the darkness. There was a bright star above the manger where Jesus lay to show that. Jesus is the “light of the world” but this light didn’t stay in the manger. He journeyed to the cross and faced darkness. Real darkness: God’s judgment. And he did this so that you wouldn’t have to. This opens up our eyes to see that hope is not a circumstance or an event. Hope is a person, Jesus the Messiah. Messiah is God’s man in history, the one who is anointed (that’s what the word means) to bring redemption to a lost and broken world. Jesus, the Redeemer, has come! He is the light in the darkness. He pays for your rebellion and revolt. He intercedes when no one else could. This is grace. This is the hope of Advent.

Scripture and Reflection Questions
Read Isaiah 59:14-21

  1. What people or created things do you often look to for salvation?
  2. Read vv. 14-15. How do these verses remind you that salvation cannot be found in anything other than God?
  3. How does the picture of a warrior-God challenge your idea of what God is like?
  4. Read v. 18. Who are God’s enemies here and how will God repay them? Why is God’s wrath on his enemies good news for you?
  5. How does Christ’s coming give you reason for praise and gratitude?

From We Look for Light: Readings and Reflections for Advent

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