I see a lot of new faces today. Welcome to the worship service. Just one family filled the whole pew there. So I welcome all of you to this special Christmas Sunday’s service. The book of Isaiah, the one that you just heard was written in the darkest moment of Israel’s history. Babylonian captivity was the darkest time for Israel. They lost their country, their land, and their temple. The temple was at the centre of their existence and they lost their temple. Many were taken to the foreign land as captives leaving behind their loving family and their friends. When you lose everything, despair strikes you. You become hopeless because you lost everything. They felt God’s silence and the silence suffocated them. Prophets exposed their sins and the people fell, convicted of their sins. They were complacent, in the midst of being complacent, they became very selfish. They live their lives only concern about themselves, their own security, safety and comfort. They didn’t care about the people around them. They became extremely greedy and selfish. Prophets exposed their sins. You know, when things are going well you don’t think about your sins that much, but when tragedy happens, you think about, what have I done? How have I lived my life? You think about those, so when they were taken to Babylon as captives, they were thinking about their own sins and they were convicted of their sins. Our sins drive us into darkness, because of human sins you see fights and divisions, animosity, and hatred all around us because of human sins. People become victims of hatred and violence, and the darkness covers over the world like thick clouds and people’s heart become dark and gloomy. Human greed will soon reach its peak.
God’s Punishment & Salvation
You know, sometimes God punishes us, but he punishes us to save us. If God leaves us alone, then we’ll forever fall into the deep darkness and never get out of it. So sometimes God punishes us to wake us up, to bring us out of that the pattern of falling into the darkness. That was what happened in Isaiah’s time. That was how the prophets interpreted their historical situation, Babylonian captivity. Isaiah gave us his message in this context. It was not written when everything was going well. It was not written in good times. It was not written when the economy was good and life was stable and people felt happy and feel abundant. No, that’s now when Isaiah was written, Isaiah was written when there were pains, frustration, uncertainties, foggy future, tears, and suffering and people had no more energy left to go on further. Isaiah wrote his message in the midst of a very, very difficult time, but his message was full of hope and a bright future. It was so positive. He saw God’s salvation. The imagery is like one person running from Babylon to Jerusalem and saying, God reigns! God comforts you, You’ll be alright! In the midst of a difficult time, Isaiah proclaimed this positive message. He saw God strong hands helping them and saving them. You know, it’s not easy to see positive things when everything around you is negative. It is really hard to see positive things when you feel so negative inside. When your life circumstance is so bad it is hard to be happy. It is very difficult to be positive about life. Everything looks gloomy, even cheerful Christmas songs, bright Christmas lights, and wonderful gifts cannot cheer you up when you’re not happy inside when your life circumstances not very good, but Isaiah proclaimed such a positive message in this very difficult time of Israel’s history. Isaiah cried out, our God reigns your circumstances don’t reign. You don’t reign our God reigns when you’re helpless God still reigns. That’s what Isaiah proclaimed. Our God comforts you and redeems you. You’re sad, then God will comfort you and will redeem you. Our God rolls up his sleeves. The literal saying is the Lord has bared his holy arm. God has rolled up his sleeves ready to help you.
Message is Powerful
Isaiah sent this beautiful message while he was clearly witnessing the despair, gloominess, and a tremendous sense of loss. This message was such a comfort to the Israelites. It gave them strength and hope. My friend’s, message is powerful, message is powerful, message either can lift you up or completely demoralize you. The message is powerful. That’s why Jesus said you don’t live by bread alone. You live by every word that comes from God’s mouth. Israelites survived that difficult time by hearing the message. Luckily they had Prophets. Prophets continuously give them the message and that’s how they survived their difficult times. Even though sometimes the Prophets expose their sins, but in the end, the Prophets always gave them the message of hope, healing and restoration. Today as we are celebrating Christmas Sunday we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Jesus’ birth itself is a message. What is the message? The message that God does not give us up. God does not leave us alone. God is interested in coming into our lives and saving us. The birth of Jesus itself has a message for all of us. Jesus came as the light and drove out the darkness. Jesus came as the joy and chased out the sorrow. Jesus came as the word of God and fulfilled God’s ancient promise for us. Jesus came as the Prince of Peace and stopped the fighting and division. Jesus came and he showed his love on the cross and by doing that he defeated the hatred and ended the judgment that comes with our sins. The birth of Jesus is wonderful news. It is good news. My friends, hear the good news and be the people who proclaim the wonderful news in your life. How beautiful are the feat of those who announce peace, who brings good news? Be the messenger of the good news in your life. Merry Christmas. Even though we already said it. Let’s say it once more. Merry Christmas to each other.