Isaiah calls God’s people to the hope of Advent—to wait for God even when waiting seems foolish; to trust God to fulfill his promises even when it seems God has forgotten.
Isaiah calls God’s people to something else as well—to work for justice.
The call to justice is the centerpiece of the heart of God as revealed in Isaiah. The opening chapter of the book of Isaiah calls the nation of Israel to account for turning its back on justice for the poor and oppressed. Read this chapter and notice the call to justice for the oppressed throughout the chapter.
Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. -Isaiah 1:16b-17
God’s people may have abandoned justice and righteousness, writes Isaiah, but God has promised to send one who will restore justice and righteousness.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. -Isaiah 9:6-7
As we prepare for the coming of Christ this Advent, Isaiah leads us to ask: Are we working for justice? Is the Advent justice of God continuing to come into the world through us?
We spend an amazing amount of time, energy, and money on Christmas shopping. We strive to find the perfect gift for each person on our list. We fret over gifts that have not yet been bought. Holiday shopping in the United States exceeds $450 billion each year. What if we put as much time, energy, and money into working for justice as we do into Christmas shopping? What if the cause of the fatherless, and widow—those at the edge of society—was as important to us as finding the right gift for our moms and children? What if we diverted some of that $450 billion into seeking justice? Might this be a good way to celebrate the birth of the one who came to restore justice?
Advent calls us to wait with expectation for the coming of the God of justice, and to work as agents of the God of justice as we eagerly expect His coming.