Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner, but blessed is he who is generous to the poor. (Proverbs 14:21) I know a guy who sold his business and went to be a missionary in Asia. While many young men were seeking success (whatever that means), he found it and left it to share...
Do you remember making your Christmas list as a child? Do you remember how, each year, there was one gift that stood above them all? And do you remember how you felt when that “one gift” was unwrapped? I remember screaming at the top of my lungs with my brother, and I remember calling my childhood best friend on the phone overwhelmed with excitement!
Like the child who has seen his hopes come true on Christmas morning, Isaiah 40 has come true and is true in the birth of Jesus Christ.
Behold the marvelous mystery of the incarnation! (Isaiah 40:12-14)
“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?” (vv. 12-14)
“Mystery” here does not mean that God has not spoken. “Mystery” means that what God has said is wonderfully beyond our comprehension: Jesus Christ comes to the earth as fully God, yet fully man, to save us. God has come to us!
Verses 12-14 show us what a marvelous mystery this through stunning imagery. God is so incomparably great that he can hold all the waters of this world in the hollow of his hand. And not only that – this God can mark off the heavens with a span! That word “span” refers to the distance between your thumb and your pinky finger.
This is God who, in Christ at Christmas, lay in a manger, with ten fingers, with ten toes, clinging to his mother for warmth and food. The Creator of all things, who holds the universe in his hands, lay a newborn in a manger. What a marvelous mystery!
Verse 13 continues: “Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord, or what man shows him His counsel?” God didn’t need a teacher. Rather, from eternity past, God was and is and always will be the ultimate, complete, perfect fountain of all knowledge and wisdom. He never had to and never needs to learn from anything or anyone else.
This is the God who, in Jesus at that first Christmas, lay in a manger, crying out like any other baby for his first breaths to clear his lungs, like any baby unable to speak, like any baby looking to His mother and father for help and every need. What a marvelous mystery!
This is the marvelous mystery of the incarnation and why Christians still celebrate Christmas to this day. Instead of having to find our way to God, this incomparably great God came to us! He came to rescue us, to save us. And He did so at Christmas.
Behold the merciful might of Jesus! (Isaiah 40:10-11)
“Behold, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him” (v. 10).
When Christ comes at Christmas, we may not see it immediately, but he is coming with might. His power is veiled in the humility of a newborn, but this power will be unveiled when, through his cross and resurrection, he eternally defeats the power of sin and death and hell.
Further, verse 10 says, “His arm rules for him.” We read earlier that Christ holds all of heaven and earth in his hands. Likewise, when he comes to rule, it only takes the power of his arm! It does not even require the fullness of God’s being for him to rule the universe. This is how powerful and mighty he is.
But here’s what I’ve really come to love about this passage: Jesus comes with might – and his might is used for mercy! For verse 10 continues: “Behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him…”
In this great might, Christ comes with a reward to offer his people. He rewards us by using his might to defeat sin and death and hell, protecting us from these enemies. He rewards us by using his might to draw us into his eternal family and inheritance. Neither of these could we ever do for ourselves! His might is merciful!
But His merciful might doesn’t stop there. Look at verse 11: “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young…”
I know many of us will come to Christmas worn down and weary:
As we grieve someone who is no longer with us.
As we are pained by a broken relationship, the person who refuses to celebrate with us.
As we look back on the year and see the sins we’ve committed, the foolish habits we’ve not broken, the days we didn’t use for God.
We need the blessing and encouragement and hope of this truth. Our Savior comes to us with a merciful might. He uses his power to treat his people tenderly.
Behold your God! (Isaiah 40:9)
“Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!”’ (v. 9)
Here, God tells Isaiah to shout from the highest place, to lift up his voice with strength and say to everyone, “Behold your God!” God is inviting his people to know him personally, to be their possession!
And Jesus Christ fulfills these words. The Son of God came to earth at Christmas that we might behold God. He came fully God and fully man in his marvelous, mysterious incarnation. He came in such love for you and for me that he was willing to humble himself in a manger, even though he held all of heaven and earth and knowledge in his hands.
He came with merciful might to pay the penalty for our sin on the cross, for we are all sinners who need a Savior. And his arms – his strong arms – and his universe-measuring hands were nailed to the cross that we might receive an eternal reward. And then even more, in his merciful might, he rose in victory over the grave, defeating sin and death and hell.
Jesus shows us who God is and what God does! He helps us to see. Through Jesus we behold God!
So you see, when the Bible says “behold your God,” it’s calling you to believe in God! Quit trusting in good works to save yourself. Quit trying to be a “good person” to save yourself. Quit thinking that there’s a way to heaven besides Christ.
Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Wonderfully today, the invitation to “behold your God” is not ancient history. This invitation is alive for you today through Jesus Christ and because of Christmas. Friend, behold your God!