He saw birth, death, and resurrection more than 700 years before they happened.
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me … to comfort all who mourn.
He is the one most associated with Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. And he never lived to see any of it.
Imagine it. He foresaw the birth of Jesus – Christmas – but didn’t live to experience it.
He foresaw the suffering of Jesus and his death – but didn’t live to see it.
He foresaw the resurrection of Christ – but died centuries before Christ was even born.
Imagine anticipating Christmas but it never arrives.
Imagine being told the horrors of Good Friday and the glories of Easter Sunday, but never seeing them first hand.
This is the life of Isaiah the prophet.
The early Church Father Jerome said of him, “He was more of an Evangelist than a Prophet, because he described all of the Mysteries of the Church of Christ so vividly that you would assume he was not prophesying about the future, but rather was composing a history of past events” (Wikipedia contributors, “Isaiah,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Isaiah&oldid=815406542 (accessed December 17, 2017)).
It would be like being told about Christmas but never getting past Labor Day on the calendar.
At least, that’s how I imagine it.
I think reality is that Isaiah didn’t think about this at all. He saw visions from God. He heard from God and shared what he saw and heard. He wrote it down so that others could know.
Could know that God was at work in and for the lives of his people.
If Isaiah thought about it at all, he most likely would have been curious as to what was going to happen. He was seeing and describing events that were long in the future. He was describing God becoming man. He was describing the Son of God dying a horrible death. All for the redemption of God’s people.
Isaiah’s more immediate concern was the imminent invasion of his land by a foreign power. He knew that God still loved and cared for his people, but they were rebelling against him anyway.
Isaiah was warning God’s people. Isaiah was comforting God’s people.
Isaiah still warns and comforts today.
But we live on the other of side of the history that Isaiah foresaw. We are in a position Isaiah could only dream about, if he thought about it at all.
We have Isaiah’s prophecy and we have the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy.
We live in the Year of our Lord – post-Christmas, post-Easter.
We live in a world that Messiah has come to, and we are his people.
As we now are just a few days away from the celebration of the birth of Jesus, we can take up the mantel of Isaiah and also warn and also comfort people with the hope of God’s love in Christ.
The sure and certain hope that is the incarnation of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Heavenly Father, I give you praise and thanksgiving for Isaiah and the prophets who pointed the way to Christ. As I now live in the world that Christ came to save, help me to share the comforting Good News of Jesus. In his name. Amen.