Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Praying for you, your family, your community, and the rest of the world. Right now, the whole world is suffering because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Let’s pray together to God, Our Ever-Loving Father, His mercy and protection on all, and God’s healing on those who are infected by the COVID-19. We all believe God’s grace and love rest on all who look upon Him every moment with faith in Him.
This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.(Psalm 118:23)
2021 has been another painful year from the beginning as the COVID-19 virus was with us. All together fought against the common enemy, the COVID-19 virus. Even so, the COVID-19 virus has left us, and it took a heavy toll on everyone’s life. Some lost their loved ones, and some lost jobs. Some suffered by being sick. The terrible COVID-19 virus has rather fundamentally changed our lives by driving us to somewhere we don’t want to go. It has prevented us from being what we used to do. We used to get together and talk to each other or hug each other in the love of Christ. Wearing a mask became a social norm wherever we went. What an inconvenience and nascence! Yes, even small things add up and make up painful.
The world thought we started to see the end of the tunnel of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, came. It quickly spread across the globe. Many start to ask, “Will this COVID-19 pandemic ever end?”
It feels like the dark cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic covers our lives on earth without intention to leave us. The general public’s frustration keeps escalating, and we witness increased violence here and abroad. We see this trend through the news media. We all are certainly living in a difficult time in our history.
However, we are not alone. Israelites suffered and lived in darkness and despair. About 2700 years ago, Assyrians invaded Israel. It was a part of a much wider military offensive designed by the Assyrians to establish political and economic dominance over the routes across the Syrian Desert to the harbors of the Mediterranean.
The Assyrian army captured the Israelite capital at Samaria and carried away the citizens of the northern Kingdom of Israel into captivity. (At that time, there were Northern and Southern Kingdoms in Israel.) The destruction of the Northern Kingdom left the Southern Kingdom, Judah, in fear and despair as they witnessed what happened in their sister kingdom in the north. The fear is without warning; the Assyrian army could invade the Southern Kingdom anytime. Living in fear of the Assyrian army could be worse than being in captivity in Assyria.
When the people in the southern Kingdom lived in fear of Assyria and their uncertain future, God came to Isaiah. Isaiah was God’s faithful prophet living in Jerusalem, the capital city of the Southern Kingdom. Then God gave a message, which greatly comforted Isaiah. Then, God’s prophet Isaiah proclaimed the message received from God to the people in the Southern Kingdom.
“Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. In the past, God humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future, God will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—” (Isaiah 9:1)
Zebulun and Naphtali were two tribes who lived at the north end of the Northern Kingdom, and the Southern Kingdom saw what happened to the Northern Kingdom. Assyria took the entire population in the Northern Kingdom, and the whole Northern Kingdom became desolate. Despite what they see – hopelessness, God would fill the desolate land with his glory, starting from Galilee, the biggest lake in the Northern Kingdom also called the Sea of Galilee. Then God would keep expanding His glory beyond the Jordan River, flowing from the mount Hermon at the north end of the Northern Kingdom, going through the Sea of Galilee, and continuing down to the dead sea, which meant the entire Northern Kingdom and beyond.
Then Isaiah praised God filled with God’s Spirit by saying:
The people who walk in darkness
will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness,
a light will shine.
You will enlarge the nation of Israel,
and its people will rejoice.
They will rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest
and like warriors dividing the plunder.
For you will break the yoke of their slavery
and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders.
You will break the oppressor’s rod,
just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian.
The boots of the warrior
and the uniforms bloodstained by war
will all be burned.
They will be fuel for the fire. (Isaiah 9:2-5)
Isaiah prophesied that the darkness and fear would be soon gone, and they would be no longer with them. Instead, the people will see the light they had not seen before. However, they had to hide in darkness in fear of the Assyrian army. But suddenly, the light of God would come and penetrate the deepest part of their hearts. Then the fear and trembling against the Assyrian army would be gone, which would no longer be with them.
It was not all. God would bless their lives, and their harvest would become bountiful again. God would break the yoke of fear from their necks and drive out their despair from their mouths forever. They would never be given to slavery again. Instead, God would fill their hearts with joy that they had long forgotten due to Assyria, and their lives would become joyful, and they would multiply again. There would be no more vocabulary of fear, darkness, and despair because God would completely take away all of these from their hearts.
In turn, God would destroy Assyria. He would utterly break the fearful Assyrian army as God did centuries ago to the Midian army, the fearful enemy of Israelites for His people. Therefore, there would be no more need for the boots and the uniforms prepared for battle against enemies. There would be no more war. Instead, God would be with them forever. All joyfully would bring out all boots and uniforms to burn them as fuel for the fire.
Prophet Isaiah continued:
For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His government and its peace
will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David
for all eternity.
The passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies
will make this happen! (Isaiah 9:6-7)
Isaiah also saw a special Child through whom God would accomplish all things as spoken. The special Child would be born to the Israelites. As the Child grew, He would put the government on His shoulders. The Child would carry all humanity’s joy, anger, sadness, and happiness for God.
The Child would be their wonderful counselor, and He would carefully listen to their pains and sorrows and take away their pains and sufferings. Although their enemies always tried to invade them, God would surely protect them against the enemy not just now but in the future too because God was their everlasting Father. The Child would become the true Prince of Peace, who would bring the peace of God to the world.
The peace of God would never end because the Child would be with them forever. Thus, on earth, God would restore fairness and justice as God did at the time of King David to eternity.
The Heaven’s Armies of God would also become passionate to commit to God’s promise. Imagine one angel is more powerful than countlessly many armies of human warriors. If the entire Heaven’s Armies work together, what would happen? There would be nothing against Heaven’s Armies on earth. Heaven’s Armies would completely destroy them if there were the slightest hint of being against God’s domination in peace and hope. Thus, God’s will would be surely fulfilled because such powerful Heaven’s Armies would directly work for God. God’s peace would come to all on earth and would be with them forever.
The good news is God, who gave eternal peace to the Israelites, will provide us with the same peace and hope because we are equally His people as the Israelites were His. Oh, dear sisters and brothers, let’s visualize together what the day will be like when God grants His peace on earth.
In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together;
the leopard will lie down with the baby goat.
The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion,
and a little child will lead them all.
The cow will graze near the bear.
The cub and the calf will lie down together.
The lion will eat hay like a cow.
The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra.
Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm.
Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,
for as the waters fill the sea,
so the earth will be filled with people who know the LORD. (Isaiah 11:6-9)
On that day, there would be no more hostility. Even the wolf and the lamb will lie down together in one place. The leopard will gently approach the baby goat and play together as the baby goat climbs up the leopard. The calf will calmly rest with the lion, and a little child will lead them together. What a marvelous scene that we will witness in the peace of God eternally!
There will be no more killing, and the cow and the lion together eat hay. The cub and the calf will play together. We will hear a giggling noise of a little child who puts its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm. All will be in harmony in God’s peace as God intended.
Nothing will hurt or destroy in God’s peaceful holy mountain because God’s peace wil dwell in the mountain forever. All will drink in God’s endless peace, following from the top of the holy mountain. Finally, people will truly know who God is. God’s peace will keep pouring out endlessly while filling up the entire oceans around the world. All will know all start from the holy mount of God, lavishly pouring out His peace and hope to all. God is truly the source of everlasting peace.
How about the nations on the earth, which have been fighting each other for centuries? We will see God’s peace among them too.
The LORD will mediate between nations
and will settle international disputes.
They will hammer their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will no longer fight against nation,
nor train for war anymore. (Isaiah 2:4)
God will mediate between nations, and wars will cease throughout the world, even to the end of the earth. God will break the bow and shatter the spear; He will burn the shields with fire. There will be no hostility between nationals and among men, and the settlement from God will last because of God’s everlasting peace.
People start to hammer their swords into plowshares because of no more war. All nations will know no more needs to hold up swords against the nations. All nations will turn the spears into pruning hooks. No more wars and no nations will train for war anymore. God’s eternal peace finally lives between the nations and the people.
In that day you will sing:
“I will praise you, O LORD!
With joy you will drink deeply
from the fountain of salvation!
In that wonderful day you will sing:
“Thank the LORD! Praise his name!
Tell the nations what he has done.
Let them know how mighty he is!
Sing to the LORD, for he has done wonderful things.
Make known his praise around the world. “ (Isaiah 12:1a. 2-5)
Then on that day, all will shout for joy by singing and praising God. All will come out and together drink God’s peace and hope from the fountain of God’s salvation that only comes for the everlasting God. The day will be marvelous because people have never seen such peace and hope ever. However, the day of God’s peace will surely come, and it will be with us forever.
Then all nations will finally say to each other, “Let’s sing and praise God in His peace and hope. God’s salvation and peace are now here with us. Sing, sing to God, for God has done marvelous things. Make known Him and what He has done through the word. All who breathe worldwide should shout for joy for His peace in the loudest voice while praising Him. Sing, sing, sing to God!”
Let’s close our eyes and see the marvelous scene. Can we see God’s peace on earth? No more hostility between nations and men but peace. No more pain, but comfort from God. No more despair, but hope from God. It must be utterly impossible to our eyes, but God will surely do because He is greater than all pains and despairs in darkness. Surely God’s peace and hope will prevail. We will together witness the peace from God and hear the joyful noises made by the nations around the world.
Therefore, why cannot we sing, praise, and shout for joy in thanksgiving to God? God’s marvelous peace and hope will come as God pours out His eternal Spirit on earth. All wars will cease, and hostilities among the nations and between people will be no more. Peace and hope will be with us as God’s love rules us forever. Give thanks to God!
In this blessed Advent season, may God’s peace and hope be with you all from now and forever!
so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)