Robert Louis Stevenson, in “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” set forth the irrevocable nature of every act we perform. Mr. Jekyll discovered a drug that would transform him into a man devoid of any conscience and therefore able to enjoy any vice or sin. Jekyll named this monster Mr. Hyde. Any time Jekyll wanted to become this monster, he would simply take the drug. Then when he wanted to return to being Jekyll, he took the drug again. But after a time, the desire to be Mr. Hyde overruled the desire to be Mr. Jekyll, and he could not recover himself.
Similarly, our sin progresses, gains power over us, and then one day there is no turning back. Just read the headlines or listen to the newscasts and hear of the consequences of sin. As a nation, we have progressed deeper and deeper into the monster Mr. Hyde. Socially, economically, and morally we are more filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity than ever before.
I bet you’ve seen the wickedness of Mankind and wished for justice. As I look around the world I see a lot of injustice. I see dictators who treat life as a toy they can play with and destroy at a whim. I see people who think only of themselves and do not care if people around them get hurt. They use and abuse without conscience. “Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!” This is the plea of the prophet Isaiah in chapter 64, verse 1. How often have our hearts prayed for the same? How often have we longed for God to break into this broken world and set right the wrongs? How often have we yearned to see Him come down and claim His crown as rightful King? To bring the chaos of our times under His reign of peace? We’ve all prayed that prayer: “Come and make it right, Lord. Step in and do something about this mess.”
This week begins the season of Advent and, at Advent, Jesus is SENT as the answer to our prayer for justice. We’re going to take a quick look at Isaiah 64:1-9 as we discover, this morning, it’s not that simple. In fact, we are a part of the problem of sin. Yet the season of Advent teaches us that God has the answer to our problems in the form of His Son Jesus. We’ll discover that, in sending Jesus, God comes down, as we have prayed. Then He reveals Himself. All this is so He can restore us.
Let’s start by taking a look at Isaiah 64:1-3. It says, “1 Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you! 2 As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil come down to make your name known to your enemies and cause the nations to quake before you! 3 For when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came down, and the mountains trembled before you.”
In SENDING Jesus, God Comes Down. I hate waiting. I seem patient but I will confess that I am not always so. When I was growing up, Christmases were a special time. I loved the decorations and I especially loved the tree. It was always covered with ornaments that were special to our family for one reason or another. I enjoyed napping on the couch late in the evening – all the lights off except the blinking lights of the Christmas tree. There’s something about the anticipation that builds during this holiday. Day by day the presents would grow under that tree. The lights would blink and I couldn’t wait to see what others had bought for me and I couldn’t wait for others to see what I had bought for them. The waiting is nearly enough to turn a small child crazy! Oh how I longed to open those gifts!
Let’s look at this sense of anticipation another way. It’s difficult to wait for justice or healing or an end to suffering. These are much more important gifts to long for. The pessimist in us says justice will never come. The realist in us says the pessimist is probably right for we rarely see true justice in this world. The optimist in us says the day is coming when justice will prevail at the hands of God Himself. The optimist knows that we must anticipate this great gift. We want to open it now but that gift will not be under the tree until the day of God’s timing arrives. Advent points to this day.
Advent is a season of intentional waiting, longing for the arrival of the promised Messiah. As we enter into this waiting, we recall the longing of humanity for a Savior, the longing of Israel for the true King, the longing of every heart for healing. And we marvel at the mystery of how God fulfilled this longing – by opening up the heavens and coming down to us himself through Jesus. In the Incarnation, God becomes flesh and lives among us. He steps into creation, into our brokenness, and enters our pain. This is the thrill of Advent: in SENDING Jesus, God comes down. Justice will come. Healing will come. Suffering will end and the season of Advent points us toward that great day.
In Advent, God does more than come down. It is in In SENDING Jesus, that God Reveals Himself. Isaiah 64:4 says, “4 Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.”
God is a mystery and there are many things about Him we will never be able to understand. We are finite beings attempting to grasp the infinite. It’s like trying to stuff all the sand from the every seashore in the world into a tiny box – it can’t be done. Yet Mankind has been attempting to that very thing throughout the history of our world. For some, the inability to grasp the infinite becomes an excuse to presume the infinite doesn’t exist and that all is finite. They want to contain the uncontainable.
God is uncontainable. He can never be fully revealed to us. How can the limited understand the unlimited? Yet there are parts we can understand. We can grasp what we can grasp, even if it isn’t everything. Throughout history, God has revealed His will to His people. He shows us His heart and character through the beauty of creation, the covenants and Law, the Tent and Temple, miraculous acts of power, and powerful words of prophets. But now, in Advent, He does the unthinkable. He shows us himself. Do you want to know what God is like? Look to Jesus. Do you want to know how He acts? Look to Jesus. Do you want to know how He loves? Look to Jesus. “Since ancient times,” Isaiah says, “. . . no eye has seen any God besides you.” Yet not even the prophet himself could have anticipated this hope – in SENDING Jesus, God reveals himself like never before. Jesus is the full revelation of God’s character, will, and heart. He is God in the flesh.
The Incarnation is still more than we can fully understand but God has chosen to reveal who He is in the person of Jesus. In Jesus we get a physical glimpse of the Almighty. In Jesus we capture just enough to understand enough. In his book Sacred Pathways, Gary Thomas shares a quote about a child attempting to understand the ocean. It is inconceivable to her small mind so she makes a hole in the sand and lets the incoming tide fill the hole. That hole contains a little bit of the uncontainable. That hole lets the child begin to understand a little bit of that which can never be fully understood. In Jesus, God helps us to understand what we can about Himself. God reveals Himself to us and it still blows our minds.
God’s self-revelation is just a part of what He is accomplishing in sending Jesus. In Isaiah 64:5-9 we get to the solution to the wickedness and injustice of our world. For In SENDING Jesus, God Restores Us. These verses say, “5 You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways. But when we continued to sin against them, you were angry. How then can we be saved? 6 All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. 7 No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and have given us over to our sins. 8 Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. 9 Do not be angry beyond measure, Lord; do not remember our sins forever. Oh, look on us, we pray, for we are all your people.”
It is stirring and thrilling to recall the hope of Advent – Jesus SENT to us, God coming down, revealing himself in the flesh. But in verses 5-9 of this passage, Isaiah reminds us with chilling clarity why we needed Advent in the first place. Our slavery to sin, persistent failure, and cursed disobedience all continued to condemn us. Even our righteous acts, He says, are like filthy rags. But Jesus is SENT to restore us. In Jesus, we see that God is set on answering our prayer for justice through restoration and healing. He comes down and He reveals himself, all for the purpose of restoring us and our relationship with Him. This is Advent. Our hearts are weighed down with gratitude. Out of our history of brokenness, Jesus crafts a future of restoration.
This Advent, will you embrace Jesus as King in your life? As we begin this journey to the manger, prepare your heart as His throne. Pray that in this season many will be drawn to the King and will be restored to Him through the witness and ministry of you and your church.
Because of the sin-broken reality of our world, we often find ourselves crying out for God to do something, to intervene and set things right again. We want Him to reveal himself and bring the scattered lost back to His heart. In Advent, God does exactly that. In sending Jesus, God comes down, reveals Himself, and restores us. He doesn’t only send a sign, a message, or a servant. He sends His Son Jesus to claim His crown as rightful King. Let the optimist in you come out and speak of the day when all things will be set straight. It may not happen in the way you want but it wills surely happen in the way you need. Justice will come. Suffering will end. Brokenness will be healed. God has sent Jesus.