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The Seventeenth Day of Advent – December 19

His authority shall grow continually,
and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time onwards and for evermore.
The zeal of the LORD of host will do this.
Isaiah 9:7

It has been said that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. So, what about the first impression that God makes in entering at Christmas? Does it seem that God could have made a better entrance than ‘no room in the inn’? Or, what about the optics of a barnyard manger and helpless cry of a newborn? What impression is Jesus making on the world when not even one priest or scribe from close-by Jerusalem shows up to welcome Him, or when the local King Herod tries to kill Him? God enters His world without chariot-cade, advance men, or publicists making arrangements. What first impression or message is the “Prince of Peace” wanting to send to a troubled world?

Communications theorist Marshall McLuhan famously asserted that “The medium is the message.” What, then, is God’s intended message in coming to the world through the medium of humility and lowliness? Might Jesus, in His birth, be previewing His life message of being “gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29)? Pastor and theologian John Stott explains the meaning of the first impression Jesus made at Christmas: “God does not look at our pain from a distance and send us ‘well wishes’. No, God the Father sent His Son to take on our human flesh, saturate himself in our struggles, and bear our pain.” (John Stott, The Contemporary Christian)

While mighty Caesar Augustus boasted of his “Peace of Rome”, or Pax Romana, Jesus comes not to bring “endless peace” with military force, but “with justice and righteousness”. There are conspicuously no two attributes more paramount to how God goes about His work in the world than “justice and righteousness”. Scripture’s visions of God’s new world frequently see “justice” and “righteousness” as foundational for God’s rule: “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne” (Psalm 89:14).

Tragically, our upside down, turvy-topsy, morally inverted world knows little of God’s desired justice. What passes for justice is actually injustice as people “call evil good and good evil’ and “put darkness for light and light for darkness” (Isaiah 5:20). The Biblical Hebrew word translated “justice” is mishpat, which means “to bring the heavenly norm on earth.” (Bruce Waltke, “Creation Account in Genesis 1:1-3”, Bibliotheca Sacra) Justice will mean the longed-for fulfillment of our prayers for God’s kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven! The light of Jesus will vanquish darkness!

Isaiah is granted another vision revealing how the Prince of Peace will bring justice to our broken world: “A bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth” (Isaiah 42:3-4, emphasis added). Jesus will be gentle with the weak and suffering as He establishes justice on earth and puts right the world.

Eye doctors often recommend patients frequently turn away from any close-up work and fix their eyes on something in the distance. They call it the ‘20-20-20 Rule’ in which every 20 minutes we turn away from whatever we are closely eyeing and look at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This provides needed rest and refocus for weary eyes. Thus, Isaiah frequently turns our eyes from what is close at hand in order to refocus on what we know is coming! “It will be said on that day, ‘Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us. This is the LORD for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation’” (Isaiah 25:9).

Jesus is coming again. What an impression He will make on everyone! Jesus will bring justice. Jesus will finish what He has started in His first coming! On that great day we shall no longer pray, “Thy Kingdom come”, for it will have come. The Light has shined!


Mighty Savior, You loved us from eternity and emptied Yourself of heaven’s glory to humbly enter and put right the world. You took the sin of the world and owned it. You took all of our suffering, endured it, and will one day redeem it. Sin could not hold You. Death could not hold You. You rose victorious and Lord over all. Do with us what You will, and use us as You will, until the Day breaks and all darkness flees away. Amen.

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