Oh Lord, make yourself known to our nation. That was Isaiah’s prayer for his people. As we enter the Advent Season, it is the Christian’s prayer for our nation.
We have celebrated Thanksgiving and entered the Advent Season, the four Sundays which prepare us for the coming of the Christ child. While millions of people in our nation know Christ and hear his voice as he speaks through the Word, we pray for millions of others as we pray, “Oh Lord, in this Advent Season make yourself known.”
Isaiah the prophet spoke to Judah and Jerusalem around the year 700 BC. But he had grown weary. When he preached to the people, many of them paid little or no attention to his message. He presented the following verses to God.
“Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you! 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!
“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. No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and made us waste away because of our sins.”
In earlier days God had made himself known in miraculous ways. The people recalled the stories told to them about God dividing the Red Sea. The Israelites had crossed the sea on dry land but when the Egyptians pursued them, God let the water go back and the Egyptians were swept into the sea. This was a sign that the people could see with their own eyes, and they believed God was leading them.
On another occasion the Israelites complained to Moses saying, “We are hungry. In Egypt we were slaves but we had plenty to eat. Why did you bring us out here to die?” Moses told God what they were saying, and God fed them giving them bread in the morning and meat in the evening. Again, many believed God was watching over them.
When Moses complained that they had not heard from God in these miraculous ways for a long time, he prayed that God would do something to let them know He was on the throne and watching over them.
Then came the day when God revealed himself by coming to this world as the God-man. It was the incarnation. God became man in the person of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem’s manger, on Calvary’s cross, and through the empty tomb. This Savior grew up and proclaimed that, through faith in him, we could have eternal life.
God reveals himself in many ways, but the greatest way is in Christ. It was Jesus himself who said, “I and the Father are one.” Sometimes Jesus makes himself very personal to us. Let me tell you a story.
It was a Saturday morning early in October when I received a telephone call from the head coach of a university here in the Midwest. He told that he had received word that very morning that his daughter had been in an automobile accident. Her car had been broadsided and rolled over landing on its top. The coach rushed to his daughter’s side and found out that, except for a badly broken arm, she was not hurt. But her first words to her dad were, “Jesus was with me. He was sitting right by my side. He turned and protected me as the car was rolling over.”
Two days later she said to her father, “Dad, I don’t think you got the full meaning of what I told you, that Jesus was with me. He was right by my side.”
Later the coach had a chance to read the police report. In it the patrolman had written that the man who hit the coach’s daughter’s car asked, “What happened to the man who was sitting beside her?” Jesus had revealed himself personally to this young lady.
Thrilled with this testimony, I said to the coach, “You have taught her well.”
He replied, “We have a good church and pastor, and we want the children to know the way. But I want you to know that my life has never been the same since that day when I received Jesus as my Savior in your study.”
After my conversation with the coach, he recruited an early morning Bible class of about twenty men. This must be twenty years ago and the class continues today, even though the people in the class have mostly changed.
If you are a Christian, I believe you have had those days when Jesus revealed himself to you in a very personal way. It is not that Jesus is a hidden God. Rather it is that we are often not sensitive to his presence.
We have now celebrated Thanksgiving Day, and it is only twenty-eight days until Christmas. We need to pray that God will speak to us through these Advent stories.
Mary and Joseph received the message that she would give birth to the Son, who would be the God-man, conceived by the Holy Spirit. We have the account of that birth in Bethlehem’s manger Ð the incarnation. All of these happened because God loved us so much that he gave us his Son.
As we live close to that Son in his Word every day, he will reveal to us some mighty experiences that Jesus is with us.