Jesus and Isaiah

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Here is the final installment of my Christmas devotionals based on the pre-incarnate appearances of Jesus in the Old Testament.  May the Lord bless you all, especially as the gospel promises of Christ are celebrated in our churches and homes!

Jesus and Isaiah 

One of our Christmas carols says that Jesus was "born a child and yet a king."  How greatly God's people needed a king to deliver them from sin!  It was to David that God promised a throne that would last forever (2 Sam. 7:13), but for so many years that throne had been empty.  The line of David was like a tree that had been cut down, but the stump remained in the ground.  So Isaiah foretold that "a shoot from the stump of Jesse" would arise "and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit" (Isa. 11:1).  This was Isaiah's Christmas promise: a descendant of David would rise unexpectedly to reign in the strength and power of God for salvation.  

This promise was why the genealogies of Jesus in Matthew and Luke prove that he was born in the line of King David.  Jesus' lineage would be established by his father, and Joseph who adopted him as his own was a "son of David" (Mt. 1:20; see also Lk. 2:4).  In this way, Jesus was qualified to fulfill what Isaiah foretold: "For to us a child is born, to us a son if given ... . Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom" (Isa. 9:6-7).  When Jesus was born, the house of David really was like a tree cut down to be nothing but a stump, but how great would be the king who rose from that royal lineage!

But how did Isaiah know that Jesus would be born as the true king of God's people?  The answer is that Isaiah saw Jesus enthroned in glory as the Savior from sin! 

The year was around 740 b.c., when a young priest named Isaiah went into the temple.  He was sad and afraid because King Uzziah had died after 52 years as Judah's king.  Imagine living your entire life under a single king, who had reigned for decades before you were born, but now he was dead!  Isaiah saw this death as a crisis of sovereignty, because King Uzziah's son Jotham was not a godly man.  What would happen to God's people?  God answered by showing Isaiah that it really is Jesus who is king forever for our salvation.  Isaiah 6:1 says: "In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple."  We know this was Jesus because the apostle John said of Jesus that Isaiah "saw his glory and spoke of him."  When Isaiah went into the temple and saw the Lord enthroned as king forever, it was Jesus who he saw in his glory!

Isaiah's vision of Jesus tells us three things about our Lord as we prepare to celebrate Christmas.  First, Jesus is a glorious king who alone is sovereign over all.  Isaiah writes: "I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple" (Isa. 6:1).  Jesus was exalted before him and his glorious robes spread out so that no one else could have a place where he was.  This shows that Jesus reigns alone as king and his glory fills all things.  Isaiah also saw "the seraphim."  This word means "burning ones" and identifies glorious angels who serve in God's presence.   They each had six wings: two to cover their feet, showing humility before Jesus; two to fly, to show their readiness to serve him; and two to cover their faces, because even these amazingly glorious creatures cannot bear to see the full glory of Jesus' majesty (Isa. 6:2).  What a glorious king Jesus is!

Second, Isaiah saw that Jesus is a holy king, so that all sin is exposed by his presence.  This is what the angels cried before him: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!" (Isa. 6:3).  And even though Isaiah was a godly man, he was overwhelmed by conviction of sin before Jesus: "And I said: 'Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!" (Isa. 6:5).  Did you know that if Jesus showed you his own perfect holiness, you would also fall to pieces before him because of your sins?  How wonderful it is that God has provided us with a king who is perfectly holy.  Jesus truly deserves to reign forever!

Third, and most wonderfully, Isaiah saw that Jesus is a gracious king who redeems his people from sin.  Isaiah was trembling because he was a sinner in the presence of the holy God.  But one of the angels took "a burning coal... from the altar" and touched it to Isaiah's lips.  He said, "Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for" (Isa. 6:6-7).  The altar was where the sacrifices for sin were burned before the Lord - it was a symbol of the cross, where Jesus would himself die for our sins.  So this glorious and holy king is also the Savior for those who come to be forgiven!  This is the king Israel needed and who was born in the manger of Bethlehem.  When we celebrate Christmas, we are thanking God for his own Son, the glorious and holy king who saves us from our sins giving his own life for us!  This is why the Christmas carol rejoices: "Come, thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free / From our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee."

There is one last thing to say about Isaiah's meeting with Jesus.  This vision was when Isaiah became a prophet, because he wanted to serve the king who had forgiven his sins.  Hearing God say, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?"  Isaiah answered: "Here am I!  Send me" (Isa. 6:8).  In this, the prophet shows how we can best worship Jesus at Christmas this year.  First, we believe in him for salvation and then we worship him as our holy and glorious king.  Then, seeing how great a king Jesus is, we join Isaiah in saying, "Lord, I want to serve you!  Help me tell others that you are the king who saves everyone who believes!"  

Posted December 23, 2014 @ 8:46 AM by Rick Phillips
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