Day 88 – December 25, 2023: Isaiah 26-28 and Matthew 1-3

We find ourselves in the thick of things with Isaiah. I do have to admit that it is that portion of Isaiah which just might be considered the most difficult read in all of Isaiah. The basic take from these sections is that God is promising a couple of things: 1) that victory is ahead of us, but it is not imminent. There are difficult roads that still need to be taken and those roads will lead to hardship and persecution and even death for the community. But victory is out there and it will take place, of that you can be assured. The second, 2) When victory comes it will be final and complete. There will be no such thing as a partial temporary victory, but a complete one where God will reign and God will demonstrate that all of the other gods that the people have worshipped are flaccid compared to the God of Israel.

A sidenote that might be interesting which we find briefly, and mentioned again in other places, is the mention of this Leviathan in chapter 27. The people of Israel were terrified of the ocean. Now, the Sea of Galilee is a big lake and certainly not the ocean, even if it was able to have some scary moments with some waves that could scare you into thinking that your boat might not make it. We know there are those stories of Jesus on the water with his disciples on the Sea of Galilee and they make it out. But the ocean, well that is something completely different and foreign to the people of Israel. Not foreign in the sense that they knew nothing about it, because there is a long coastline in Israel, but foreign in the sense that they were not an ocean going population and the ocean was the sight of scary creatures who would do battle and have a go at their very God. Leviathan is one of those mentioned who was a scary creature who needed to be defeated, a sea monster, similar to the dragons of yore. It was probably the whales that were the Leviathans, but they were considered mythical, deadly creatures.

I didn’t mention anything about Matthew. Appropriate that we have the Christmas story in Matthew for Christmas Day. Oh, Merry Christmas! There is so much to be said about the birth of Jesus and the ensuing escape from Herod and he and his family settling in Nazareth. Interesting that the location of where Jesus is born is Bethlehem. Matthew gives us a sense that Bethlehem may have been the hometown of Mary and Joseph because they seem to only settle in Nazareth when they get back from Egypt. That is not the case in Luke, so it makes it a bit interesting.

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