You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!” (Isaiah 40:9)
News, by its very name, draws attention to what is new. We expect each day to reveal new things—so we believe a new year will be filled with things new. We get bored with the old. Old clothes hold no fascination for us. We prefer the new. We may throw away the old even though it is still good. We hunger for what’s new. How strange then, that when we turn to the One who holds time in his hands, he keeps pointing us back to what is old. His message for us in 2018 will be the very same as the news he shared with people living 700 years before Jesus was born.
It was wonderful news, then. It is good news yet today. “Here is your God!” The almighty Creator and Ruler is not far away in time or space. Good news! He is here! There may have been times in years past that we wondered if God was nearby. Maybe we felt he didn’t pay close enough attention to the trouble we were in. Maybe we felt abandoned.
The people of Jerusalem and the rest of Judah may have felt that way when they were warned about the coming invasion and captivity. The report frightened them. This was not good news. But good news was issued along with it.
“Lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid.” Do not be afraid? Who is not going to be afraid, with the enemy about to attack and disaster looming? Who would not be terrified at that news? Those who put their trust in the Savior God should not be. They need not tremble in fear. Does this mean they will not be harmed? Is God promising to rescue his people every time they face danger? No.
When David wrote that he would walk unafraid through the valley of the shadow of death, he was not certain he would survive that trip. He was convinced that he would not be alone. “I will fear no evil,” he said to the Lord God, “for thou art with me!”
If God is with us, everything will have to work out for our good.
The God of grace and glory will continue to walk with his people as they step into this latest New Year. The message that once came to Judah should now be shouted out to us. “Here is your God!” He will never leave us. “Do not be afraid.”
It may be old news, but it remains wonderful news. There will be enough that will be new in the coming year. How comforting to know that some things will stay the same. When it comes to our God, old news is good news for the New Year.
We pray: O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal home.
A thousand ages in your sight are like an evening gone, Short as the watch that ends the night before the rising sun.
O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come,
Still be our guard while troubles last, and our eternal home. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military