Preparing a Manger

The book of Isaiah contains some of the most cherished, most quoted, most triumphant promises about God coming. Coming into our world, into our lives. Healing our brokenness, lighting our darkness. It’s a book of hope.

But I had forgotten about the first half of the book. The first thirty-some chapters are preparing my heart this Christmas. And the preparation has been hard.

Almost every chapter portrays people who have turned their backs on God, despise God, laugh at God. They worship things their own hands have made. They congratulate themselves on what they’ve accomplished, on the security they’ve built into their own lives, and even think they’ve found a way to cheat death. They believe in lies, because the lies are more pleasant to the ear than the truth.

In His anger and judgment, God repeats two words again and again, and they stay long in my mind … arrogance and pride.

Because He alone is God. He is sovereign.

God says the arrogant and proud are fools. I have a plan for the whole earth, He says, a hand of judgment upon all the nations. It will all happen as I have planned. It will be as I have decided.

Yet, we think we are in control. We think we have accomplished, and we’ve decided our plan is better than God’s plan. We worship what we create; we look to human alliances to protect us and give us power. If we have not yet conquered death, we at least think we can evade it or deny it for quite a while.

God even has a bit of a laugh at this picture. Such people have made their bed, He says, but lying in it will not be as pleasant as they think:

The bed you have made is too short to lie on,
the blankets are too narrow to cover you.

He alone is God. He is sovereign.

The sober warning to rebellious hearts is this:

Because you despise what I tell you
     and trust instead in oppression and lies,
calamity will come upon you suddenly —
     like a bulging wall that bursts and falls.
In an instant it will collapse
     and come crashing down.
You will be smashed like a piece of pottery —
     shattered so completely that
there won’t be a piece big enough
     to carry coals from a fireplace
     or a little water from the well.

A grim picture: The folly of anchoring to something other than God. The futility of scrambling to order and control our own lives. The hopelessness when we build on anything other than the foundation God placed when Mary laid a baby in a manger.

Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem,
a firm and tested stone.
It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on.
Whoever believes need never be shaken.

There is our answer and our hope. There is the One we can cling to. There is the Rock to build upon that will not collapse. There is true security and stability.

He alone is God. He is sovereign.

My heart is pounded as I read and He forges His new creation. Daily, I must give Him my pride and my arrogance to shatter and pulverize.

Because Christ came to the stable. He did not come to a powerful palace or the proud temple. He could not enter the inn, full of the world’s business. He came to the manger, to the lowly and the meek, the broken and the humble. I want to prepare just such a place for Him now.

Scripture: Isaiah 14:26; 14:24; 28:20; 30:12-14;28:16 (All NLT)

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