Friday, December 24, 2004

Isaiah's Eve

Tis Christmas Eve. A day of many different meanings. For the retailer, it is one last attempt to sell the customer items most of them don't need and most of them can't afford. For the customer, it is the final day to purchase gifts to show they care about their friends and family. As if somehow the amount of money I spend indicates the amount I care about a person. For the Christian, it is the day before God becomes flesh in the birth of Jesus (even if it is historically inaccurate since most scholars believe Jesus was born in the spring). Since we are on the verge or on the "eve" on Christ's coming to earth, I must ask what else are we on the eve of?

Have we approached the eve of seeing racism come to an end? Are we on the eve of seeing Israeli and Palestinian joining hands around Jerusalem? Have we approached the eve of ending Iraqi suffering? Are we on the eve of ending the torture of detainees? Are we on the eve of seeing abortion and the death penalty as the same murderous act of ending life? Are we on the eve of all nations denying themselves nuclear weapons? Are we on the eve of forgiving those who hurt us and reconciling with those we have selfishly forsaken for our desire of revenge?
Are we are on the eve of building a bridge over the canyon that separates the rich and poor?

If you answer to the following questions is No, then I ask you to defend your answer. You might use a quick answer of it is too idealistic to believe such things will come. Or maybe that the world's present course shows no signs of approaching such a vision. Exactly, we must change course.

If you answer Yes, then this Christmas season let you and I also celebrate Isaiah's Eve because we both believe that we are on the eve of witessing Isaiah's vision become reality.

Isaiah 11
The Branch From Jesse 1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him-
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of power,
the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD -
3 and he will delight in the fear of the LORD .

He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;
4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
5 Righteousness will be his belt
and faithfulness the sash around his waist.

6 The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling [a] together;
and a little child will lead them.
7 The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
8 The infant will play near the hole of the cobra,
and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest.
9 They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea.

It is naive to celebrate Isaiah's vision? If so, then Isaiah and the shoot of Jesse (Jesus) are also naive to believe such things will come to past. But I believe in the passion of Isaiah's vision and see it as the only way the world can exist if it wishes to survive. We must all play a part if the vision is to be fulfilled. It is time to stop brushing off the visions of the prophets like Isaiah and the teachings of Jesus as too idealistic and not applicable to today's world. Isaiah's Eve is upon us and soon after will come Isaiah's Day. A day when peace and unconditional love will flood the earth. Will it happen tomorrow? Probably not. But we must begin seeking it today.


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