24 Days of Advent Scripture Devotionals

Day 18 – A Bruised Reed He Will Not Break

A Study of Reeds – Claude Monet

He will not cry out, nor raise His voice, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench. – Isaiah 42:3

I love this description of the Messiah. Everybody may give up on you. You may give up on yourself. But he will see in you the smallest bit of faith and turn it into something great. As this passage in Isaiah says, he came “to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the prison, those who sit in darkness from the prison house.”

Isaiah 42:1-9

“Behold! My Servant whom I uphold,
My Elect One in whom My soul delights!
I have put My Spirit upon Him;
He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.

He will not cry out, nor raise His voice,
Nor cause His voice to be heard in the street.
A bruised reed He will not break,
And smoking flax He will not quench;

He will bring forth justice for truth.
He will not fail nor be discouraged,
Till He has established justice in the earth;
And the coastlands shall wait for His law.”

Thus says God the Lord,
Who created the heavens and stretched them out,
Who spread forth the earth and that which comes from it,
Who gives breath to the people on it,
And spirit to those who walk on it:

“I, the Lord, have called You in righteousness,
And will hold Your hand;
I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people,
As a light to the Gentiles,
To open blind eyes,
To bring out prisoners from the prison,
Those who sit in darkness from the prison house.

I am the Lord, that is My name;
And My glory I will not give to another,
Nor My praise to carved images.
Behold, the former things have come to pass,
And new things I declare;
Before they spring forth I tell you of them.”

Paul wrote that Jesus “became for us wisdom from God” (1 Corinthians 1:30). Wisdom is knowledge combined with judgment for a particular situation. Wisdom applies the truth to accomplish justice. As the passage above states: “He will bring forth justice for truth. He will not fail nor be discouraged, till He has established justice in the earth.”

Perfect Love. Perfect Justice. Perfect Wisdom. Thank you Lord, that you show mercy to all who will humble themselves and ask for it. Thank you that you will also bring justice on the earth. There is none like you!

Hymn: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

The words of this hymn come from the Liturgy of St. James from the 4th Century, set to A French Carol Melody by Picardy.

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of Lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.

At His feet the six winged seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to His presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Alleluia
Alleluia, Lord Most High!

I love this arrangement by Fernando Ortega.

Day 8 – Submit to the Remedy

Moses and the Brazen Serpent – Sébastien Bourdon

Numbers 21:8-9

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived. – Numbers 21:8-9

In just a few short verses in the book of Numbers we read how the people spoke out to Moses against God, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.” (Numbers 21:5)

Manna, the miraculous bread from heaven had now become “worthless bread” and the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people and those who were bitten died. God told Moses to make a serpent and put it up on a pole. Anyone who simply looked at the serpent would live even if they had been bitten.

I wonder how many perished because they would rather die than humble themselves and look at the foolish serpent up on a pole. It makes me think of my own stubborn heart when I have refused to admit my own fault. Or those of us who are parents may have had those times when we have required our child to apologize to a sibling and have waited for hours for those simple words, “I’m sorry” to be uttered.

What a strange story with eternal implications. The remedy was easily understood and did not require any particular skill: just look at the serpent on the pole. But the act of looking did require that each person admit their fault and submit to the remedy no matter how foolish it seemed. Sadly, with the cure freely given and right in front of them, many died in their stubbon pride.

On one occasion, Nicodemus, a teacher of the law and one very familiar with this story, came to ask Jesus about eternal life. Jesus, told him something that seemed foolish: you must be born again. He then told him how like that serpent that Moses put on a pole, the Son of Man must be lifted up and that “whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” So many people have heard those famous words from John 3:16 but few do what is required: admit their sin and submit to the remedy.

John 3:14-17

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

The apostle Paul wrote the believers in Corinth the following words which are just as true today as they were in the 1st century…

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. – 1 Corinthians 1:18

Hymn: Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne

Emily Elliot wrote these words in 1864 and they were set to the tune “Margaret” in 1876. I love the way the verses tell the matter of fact story of Jesus’ life while the refrain is a personal plea for the Savior to make his home in my heart. There was no room at the inn but there is “room in my heart for Thee.”

Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown
When Thou camest to earth for me
But in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room
For Thy holy nativity
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus
There is room in my heart for Thee

Heaven’s arches rang when the angels sang
Proclaiming Thy royal degree
But of lowly birth didst Thou come to earth
And in great humility
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus
There is room in my heart for Thee

The foxes found rest, and the birds their nest
In the shade of the forest tree
But Thy couch was the sod, O Thou Son of God
In the deserts of Galilee
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus
There is room in my heart for Thee

Thou camest, O Lord, with the living Word
That should set Thy people free
But with mocking scorn and with crown of thorn
They bore Thee to Calvary
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus
There is room in my heart for Thee

When the heavens shall ring, and her choirs sing
At Thy coming to victory
Let Thy voice call me home, saying “Yet there is room
There is room at My side for thee”
My heart shall rejoice, Lord Jesus
When Thou comest and callest for me

Day 5 – An Everlasting Remembrance

Exodus 12:12-14

For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance. – Exodus 12:12-14

We read of the Passover in Exodus chapter 12 when the Lord commanded his people to sacrifice a lamb without blemish and put its blood on the two doorposts and the lintel of their homes. The Lord struck the entire land of Egypt and killed every firstborn male but he passed over the homes that were covered with the blood.

This night was a defining moment for the Jewish people. The Lord commanded in Exodus 12:1, “This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.” With this first feast the Jewish religious calendar was instituted beginning with Passover and the people were commanded to keep the feast as an everlasting remembrance.

The night before he was to be crucified, Jesus celebrated the Passover with his closest friends. He gave them an example of his servant heart by washing their dirty feet. They enjoyed the meal together. Then Jesus did something that they would not understand until much later. He took the bread and said, “this is my body that is broken for you” and took the wine and said, “this is my blood that is shed for you.” He said “do this in remembrance of me.”

We have heard this called the institution of the Lord’s Supper, also known as Communion. But let’s not miss what Jesus was really doing here. He did more than just start something new; he took what had already been given (the Passover) and fulfilled it! He said in Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.”

The elements of the Passover: the lamb, the blood, the Lord passing over and sparing the people from death, the yearly remembrance all served to prepare us for the coming of the Messiah who would say (my paraphrase), “In the same way that this lamb’s body was broken and it’s blood shed to spare you from death, my body will be be broken and my blood shed for you.” He then told them to keep doing this in remembrance of him. He was not telling them to stop celebrating the Passover but that from now on their celebration would be about the fulfilling of the Passover.

Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. – 1 Corinthians 5:7 NKJV

Song: Holy Lamb of God

A virgin cried when You were born
Tears of joy and tears of pain
As Heaven’s angels watched in wonder
How could You, the Ancient One
In the frame of man be bound
Lying there with feet and hands
Fully God and fully Man

Who could see and who could know
You had left Your Kingdom’s Throne
Baby crying in a manger?
You had come to give Your life
As a holy sacrifice
Nails would pierce your feet and hands
For every heart and every man

Holy Lamb of God, how we love You
Shepherd of our hearts, how we praise You
We were blind and lost, but You came to rescue us
And we thank You, Holy Lamb of God

Now You are the risen One
All You came to do You’ve done
On this Christmas, we remember
How Love came down to set us free
From our sin and from our fear
Lord of all we bow our hearts
To the wonder that You are