Christmas in July

It felt right to reach out for the Bible lying on the nightstand, propped up against the wall, casually situated on a loaned-out couch post-college. Its pages were stuck together like glue, revealing it was either newly purchased or rarely used. I’m still unsure who it belonged to, but regardless, two weeks earlier, I’d experienced the most significant turning point in my 22-year life; conversion to Christianity.

Sure, I’d already forfeited 100% of my life to Christ, meaning my rights, will, and volition. There’s a big word for that, justification, which means I belong to My Redeemer, and my Redeemer fully belongs to me. The day-by-day metamorphosis growing out of conversion is called sanctification, another big word implying we’ll look more like Jesus tomorrow than we do today.

One lingering vestige of who I used to be, what the Bible calls the old man, or in my case, the old George (our old self was crucified with Him– Rom. 6:6), still clung to my rationalizations for not accepting all of Scripture. Many of the stories, like those in the Old Testament, honestly felt more fable and fiction. Did God require me to believe all of that too? How did it all fit together? The God of the Old Testament was hard to get. Jesus, far less elusive, made it easier in the New. This wasn’t easy.

I’ve since learned that randomness doesn’t exist with God’s way of doing things.

Still propped up against the wall, I “randomly” turned to the Book of Isaiah. Providence is a nice umbrella term for all that He does. It started making sense as the Spirit of God would have it or have me. It felt like the Holy Spirit flipped on a bright light in a dimly lit room. I could see, I mean see, as if my soul had eyes. The Study Bible’s introduction to Isaiah initially caught my eye. In it, verses connected to verses creating one cohesive narrative, themes in the Old Testament blending smoothly with those in the New.

Isaiah, the introduction pointed out, was like a Bible in miniature because it has 66 chapters, and the Bible has 66 books. In the first 39 chapters, Isaiah confronts his people for their open rebellion. The tone is harsher, including more judgment and condemnation. It has a sharp edge to it, reminiscent of the Old Testament. Interestingly enough, the Old Testament contains 39 books.

Then beginning in chapter 40, something fascinating occurs. A major shift occurs where the tone softens dramatically and continues for the remaining 27 chapters. Can you see how that more closely mimics the New Testament’s 27 books?

The Bible                                            Isaiah

Old Testament-39 books               39 chapters-more judgement

New Testament-27 books             27 chapters-more compassion

Incredibly, Isaiah wrote 700 years before the first ink was written of the New Testament. How could mere coincidence account for all the above? Or how could even one of Isaiah’s forty-two prophecies be fulfilled in one Person? Take Isaiah 7:14, for instance, that predicted a virgin would conceive and give birth to a Child? Not just any Child, but an Infant equal to Almighty God Himself. How do we know that? Because His Name would be called Immanuel, or Elohim with us, Elohim being the Hebrew word for God. Simply stated, Jesus is God with us.

Could you stop and think about it? Isaiah, who strictly adhered to Jewish monotheism (only one God), writing seven centuries before the New Testament existed, envisioned a Child would be born to us, a Son would be given; the government would rest on His shoulders; and His name would be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God (notice the Child’s Name is Mighty God), Eternal Father (notice Father), and Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). I know it’s July, but isn’t it nice to get a reminder of God’s presence in the world?

Ten thousand times in history a baby has become a King. But only one time in history has a King become a baby.

It was the light bulb that made all the difference. The Bible doesn’t make 100% sense 100% of the time, but it makes a lot more sense when we commit to studying it and asking the Spirit of God to make it come alive.

Philosopher Nicholas Rescher likens communicating with God to talking over an old-fashioned telephone system. Other conversations bleed in, static drowns out the voice, the line breaks abruptly – and still we call out, “Hello! Hello! Are you there?” Reaching for the Bible on a nightstand back when I was 22 years old, propped up against the wall, casually situated on a loaned-out couch post-college, it was as if a voice broke through the line abruptly, as if present in the world, as if present in the room. Sure, I could have called out, “Hello! Hello! Are you there?” but it wasn’t necessary. I promise you; He was there. Most certainly, He was.


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