Advent Day 15

THE READINGS

Psalm 63:1-8(9-11), 98 · John 3:22-30

Isaiah 13:6-13 (ESV)

6 Wail, for the day of the Lord is near;

   as destruction from the Almighty[a] it will come!

7 Therefore all hands will be feeble,

   and every human heart will melt.

8 They will be dismayed:

   pangs and agony will seize them;

   they will be in anguish like a woman in labor.

They will look aghast at one another;

   their faces will be aflame.

9 Behold, the day of the Lord comes,

   cruel, with wrath and fierce anger,

to make the land a desolation

   and to destroy its sinners from it.

10 For the stars of the heavens and their constellations

   will not give their light;

the sun will be dark at its rising,

   and the moon will not shed its light.

11 I will punish the world for its evil,

   and the wicked for their iniquity;

I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant,

   and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless.

12 I will make people more rare than fine gold,

   and mankind than the gold of Ophir.

13 Therefore I will make the heavens tremble,

   and the earth will be shaken out of its place,

at the wrath of the Lord of hosts

in the day of his fierce anger.

Hebrews 12:18-29 (ESV)

18 For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest 19 and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. 20 For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” 21 Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly[a] of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

25 See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.

MEDITATION

I will not be shaken. Those words feel false, I am easily shaken. I am fearful and anxious. I am often unkind and ungrateful. I get frustrated at work and I am irritated when things are not going my way. I feel shaken by the world, the suffering and injustice that surrounds me on a daily basis. So to prescribe the words unshakeable to a fickle and breakable human being in the face of the raw and overwhelming judgment of the all-powerful God feels strange and pretty impossible.

When I consider the power and the ferocity of God as described in Isaiah 13, I know that is what my sinful soul deserves. He promises to shake the whole world and rid it of wickedness and evil. I don’t know about you, but I easily relate to the people identified as prideful and arrogant. So when I really think about the implications of that passage and I know truly and deeply that punishment described in Isaiah is far more recognizable than this prescription of being unshakeable, I am not quite sure how to respond.

I do not want to live in self-condemnation, but I am acutely aware that I am unworthy. There are often days, like today, that I need to be reminded that I am incapable of being unshakeable on my own. Of myself, I am a terrified and wayward soul. The truth is that we were all quite shakeable, but Jesus changed everything for us. His ushering in of the new covenant and His blood changed everything. When I contemplate all of that undeserved truth, the invitation of Hebrews 12:28 is all that makes sense by way of response.

We are called to gratitude. We are called to live in awe of Him and revere Him. We are called to worship. He is as beautiful and as terrifying as a consuming fire and we are safe and cared for under His protection. Christ’s blood grants us a place in the unshakeable Kingdom so when God’s judgment pours out over the earth, we truly will not be shaken.

- Bethany Gioielli

PRAYER

Lord Christ, I am humbled that you have brought me into your protection and care. I want to rest in the promise of this new covenant with you, this participation in your unshakeable Kingdom. However, I am fickle and forgetful. Help me to remember today that you have changed my life and you have made me new. I live in awe of who you are and what you have done for me. Amen.

Jon Ziegler