On that day the branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and glory of the survivors of Israel. Whoever is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, everyone who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem, once the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning. Then the Lord will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over its places of assembly a cloud by day and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night. Indeed over all the glory there will be a canopy. It will serve as a pavilion, a shade by day from the heat, and a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain. Isaiah 4:2-6 (NRSV)

The last words of the great Christian reformer John Wesley were, “The best of all is, God is with us!” Here Isaiah, paints a picture of the restored Kingdom of God in Jerusalem. There is no mention of streets of gold or “a big, big yard where we can play football”, but there is life and there is holiness. It says the Lord will create a cloud over the whole assembly by day and smoke and flaming fire by night, which is an allusion back to the time that the Hebrew people followed God in the wilderness for 40 years.

Don’t get so wrapped up in the imagery of what a city with a burning cloud over it would look like and miss the main point. For us foreignors, it certainly would look frightening… but for those in Jerusalem, Isaiah says it is their shelter. It guards them from the heat of the day and acts as a refuge from the storms that come their way. It is, in its own way, just like a mother hen who gathers her young underneath her wings.

As we prepare for Christmas, presents are on all our minds, but the most important gift given is the presence of God.

  • Where do you feel the presence of God most?
  • When do you feel the presence of God the least?
  • What can you do today to bring yourself into God’s presence and give your own presence as a gift to Him?

Emmanuel, Emmanuel,

His name is called Emmanuel.

God with us, revealed in us,

His name is called Emmanuel.

Saturday December 3, 2016

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