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A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Isaiah 4:3-5 ESV)
There is a glut of superhero movies on the circuit these days, each one having their own mass following. Many a social commentator has mused about humanity’s obsession with this genre. Ultimately, they say, something deep within us longs for a rescuer and many cultures and eras have given expression to it through various stories and legends. The enduring super-saviour story is a tacit admission that we cannot save ourselves. We need a rescuer, someone like us, but better. Therein lies the truth in the tale.
The Gospel answers the reality of this longing in our hearts as well as the reason behind it. God’s Word tells us the deadly crisis on our planet is sin and only He can save us from it. Many have tried to fulfil this expectation but only One truly accomplishes the task. Jesus is human, like us, but better, God-with-us, Emmanuel. He is able to rescue us by his perfect life and acceptable sacrifice for our sin.
The cry of Isaiah 40:3 is given in the light of the God who comes to rescue His people. Its repeated at the start of each of the four gospels (one of only two Old Testament verses quoted in all the gospels). The fulfilment is not ultimately seen in the return of Israelites from exile (the original context) but in the return of God to a people exiled by their sin. The coming of Christ into the world that marks the beginning of the end of the ultimate exile.
Many Bible teachers rightly pick up on our call to repentance and return to the Lord in Isaiah 40:3, but we must also not miss the following verses and see who really is doing the “returning” work here. Our God comes like a “super-natural hero,” accomplishing what no mere mortals can do. He’s overcoming all obstacles in His path, filling in valleys, flattening mountains, turning tumbled ground into level paths. He will not let anything get in the way of Him rescuing the sin ravaged people He loves.
Yes, we are called to turn from our sin and turn to the Lord (repentance) but in the light of our supernatural rescue this is not a self-saving act. It is a turning away from our own idolatrous self-interests so we can see, receive, and marvel at the awesome salvation our hero has accomplished for us.
Here is the heart of the Christmas message. Here is the reason why we worship the Babe in the manger. God has come to rescue his desperate people and we can only marvel and celebrate at His supernatural plan of salvation.
May God give our preachers grace and power to proclaim the world’s true Saviour this Christmas season.
Confirmation Service St Peters Fish Hoek
Crossword KZN 2017
Opening New Buildings for Christ Church Msunduzi
Joining the Christ Church Pinetown team for street outreach
New premises for Christ Church North Coast
Thanksgiving Service Holy Trinity Gardens
Post of the Month
– a tribute to RC Sproul, by John Piper
Last word for 2017…
I’m grateful to you all for your ongoing interest and support of the work of REACH-SA and especially for your prayers. The Lord has opened many doors of opportunity for us as well as carried us through many difficulties. I have often been driven to my knees begging God for wisdom and strength to fulfil this challenging task. Jesus will build His church, so let us pray, pray and pray for our God to be at work in us and through us in 2018.
- Pray for the missionaries sent and supported by REACH-SA churches. Many will not be home over this season. Ask the Lord to sustain and provide for them over this time.
- Pray for a wave of conversions this Christmas season as many visitors will be in our churches.
- Pray for our country and her leaders. There are encouraging signs of new leadership in African but ultimately our future hope lies in people bowing the kneww to the true King of Africa
Guard her children
Guide her leaders
And give her peace
For Jesus Christ’s sake