If you only know a few Old Testament books well, they should be Genesis, Deuteronomy, Isaiah, and a number of the Psalms. They are key to understanding the rest. But there is one book that stands out amongst these 4 books: Isaiah.
While that’s quite something to say, it is the truth. At times, Isaiah might seem hard to understand but make no mistake – Isaiah 6-11 is the key to Christmas. Those chapters help us understand the importance of the birth of Jesus. Without Isaiah, we won’t understand Christmas.
All human beings are lost in sin and are helpless to save themselves. And yet, in marvelous mercy God sent His son Jesus to save people from their sins!
If you were to ask the prophet Isaiah, he’d agree.
Isaiah 53:6 says, “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned – every one – to his own way…”
Just like helpless sheep who can’t find their way home, the entire human race is helpless. The message of Isaiah is simple. Only the Lord can save you.
In the day of trouble, the things your hands have made and the things you worship will not be able to rescue you. They can’t save you! When the day of disaster lies at hand, you will find no salvation in the things of this world. If you trust them, you’re going to be humiliated.
Think of the things that we have come to trust in. We believe that our economy will save us; for the free-enterprise system will always endure. We have been able to harness the forces of nature; we have become masters of science. We have multiplied our technology to safeguard us against the day of trouble.
But if we’re being honest, those of us who live with these idols are feeling increasingly vulnerable. Like the days of Isaiah, we have an uneasy sense that the storm clouds are on the horizon. Our culture is beginning to fray at the edges. The unity we once thought we had in our values is breaking apart, and in its place is an increasing clash of values. Can we hold this thing together?
Isaiah would say, as recorded in Isaiah 40:28, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable.”
Only Yahweh of Israel can save. We need a Savior, but many of us are calling out in the wrong direction.
That’s the hope in Isaiah. A Great Savior will come, but not because men and women are asking God for one. We are so lost. We don’t even know that our idols are crumbling in our hands. No, a Great Savior will come because it is the Lord’s will to do this. To be gracious to a lost people!
What has all that to do with Christmas? Everything! Isaiah sees the world as living in the reality of the shadow of death.
And in this world of gloom and darkness, a great and unexpected light from God shone forth. This is what the birth of Jesus is. That’s the vision Isaiah saw.
This article was written by Canadian Bible Teacher, Dr. John Neufeld.