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Advent encompasses the four weeks before Christmas. It is a time of waiting, not only for the first coming of Christ as a baby but also for His coming again as a king. This first advent meditation is about that baby.
One of my vivid memories of visiting London comes from a visit to the Churchill War Museum. It is housed in the actual underground bunkers near Westminster Abbey that Churchill lived in during World War II. All the actual furniture is still there, even the red phone he used to call Roosevelt. But the most fascinating part to me was the Map Room with a huge map of the world on the wall. You could still see all the pin holes that marked the positions of military ships out in the ocean. Here was where Churchill and his War Cabinet planned their battle strategies, including D-Day,.that eventually brought the Axis alliance down. Here was where England was saved, along with Europe, America, and other countries from domination and tyranny.
The Bible tells a story of another war, one between good and evil, between the tyranny of the devil and the love of the Father, between the domination of sin and the liberation of the gospel. And God definitely had a battle strategy by which He was going to win back the world.
The prophet Isaiah lets us in on this strategy in warlike language of conquest and victory. He speaks of God shattering the yoke that adversaries have laid on God’s people and His breaking the rod of their oppressors. He describes a victory so complete that all the military garb used by the enemy becomes fuel for a mighty bonfire. All of this is preceded by the joy of the people having been freed from the enemies that have long tormented them (Is. 9:3-5). But so far in the passage, there is not one mention of how this will all happen. There is no hint of the battle strategy God will use to invade and conquer.
What was God’s D-Day master plan? Was it more firepower? Was it more military might? Was it decoys or ruses? Was it code breaking or paratroops landing or bombs dropping? No, it was none of these. It’s something no one would have ever imagined.
It was a baby: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given” (v. 6).
Nothing in Isaiah’s passage prepares us for this shocker. It is a prophetic bombshell dropped onto the landscape of history.
But it is so like God. He thwarts the counsel of the wise and lifts up those on the trash heap. He delights to take what appears to be weak and fill it with His invincible power. When you hold a baby boy, you realize how weak and dependent he really is. Nothing could be more unlikely as a strategy for conquest.
But the passage goes on to speak of this baby boy growing up as a man. And the man becomes a king. Divine titles are given to him, such as Mighty God and Prince of Peace. But there is more: “Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end” (v. 7). It’s not just that His peaceful rule will have no end. It’s that the increase of it will have no end. It will continue to grow and spread and flourish forever and ever and ever.
This mighty Conqueror will shatter the power of sin. He will rout and defeat Satan. And He will break the rod of evil that has long oppressed this world. He will do all of this by another strange battle strategy.
He will die on a cross.
This Advent season, take some time to thank God for His strange battle strategy. Thank Him for that baby boy who became a mighty Conqueror. Thank Him for shattering the power of sin in your life. Thank Him for His coming again to complete the conquest. And then take some silence to wait on Him.
Next week, Advent Meditation #2: Saying Yes to God