The Story of Christmas: Meet the Prophet Isaiah

Faith matters, justice matters, and faithfulness to God matters

Isaiah—the prophet who proclaimed that we would “beat [our] swords into plowshares” (2:4) and that “the wolf shall live with the lamb” (11:6)—lived in a challenging time. He observed that religious practice was becoming unfaithful to the people’s covenant with God. At the same time, the powerful Assyrian empire was taking over small kingdoms, and it was coming straight toward Israel.

Isaiah had the courage to express the truth that no one wanted to hear. He told the people that there were consequences to their unfaithfulness. For Isaiah, the true test of faith was how the nation treated those who lived in poverty, who lived without a family, or who were strangers in the land.

Isaiah taught that faith matters, justice matters, and faithfulness to God matters. He also described a messiah who would come to serve and redeem the people.

When John the Baptist proclaims the kingdom of God in the lead-up to Jesus’ birth, he is described in Isaiah’s words: “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make [God’s] paths straight’” (Matthew 3:3).

During this season of Advent, remember Isaiah’s call to faithful living and his promise of help for us live in God’s ways. Ask yourself:

  • When have you felt defeated and alone?
  • Isaiah said that a faithful nation cared for those who lived in poverty, without a family, or as strangers in the land. What would you add to his list?
  • Which of Isaiah’s images most appeals to you: turning swords into plowshares (or farm tools), the wolf living with the lamb, or preparing a straight path for the Lord? Why?

Explore the characters in the Christmas story:

And watch for more blogs retelling the Story of Christmas.

 —The Rev. Won Hur of Ebenezer United Church, Toronto.