Introduction: In the times of the kings of Israel and Judah, many of the people chose to disobey God by worshipping idols and treating one another in ways that broke God’s commands. They often treated their families unkindly. They did not help people who needed it most, like the widows and orphans. They were greedy and refused to share with their neighbors like they should. Because of all of the sins being committed, God sent prophets to both Israel and Judah to tell the people they needed to change their ways. Some of the prophets spoke to the kings in their palaces. Some of the prophets spoke to the people throughout the communities. But they all spoke similar messages — “It’s time to change your ways.”
Read Isaiah 1:15-17
Devotional: Unfortunately, the nations of Israel and Judah did not change their ways after hearing the prophets. Because of this, both of the nations would be punished and be conquered by their enemies. When God warns us about what is right and what is wrong, we must remember that disobedience comes with consequences. The people of Israel and Judah learned this the hard way. However, God still showed the people mercy through the prophets by delivering a message of hope. Many of the prophets in the Old Testament end on a positive note that speak of a better day.
Read Isaiah 9:6-7
Although Isaiah told the king that times of punishment were ahead, he also revealed that something — and someone — far greater would come later in Israel’s history. This was not just a prediction of something that might happen. It was a prophecy, a promise from God of something that would happen. This prophecy speaks of a future king. Who might this king be? In the days of Isaiah, no one was exactly sure, but those who believed Isaiah’s prophecy looked to the future with hope. When we get to the New Testament, we discover that this prophecy and so many other prophecies from the Old Testament were talking about Jesus. When the angel Gabriel tells Mary that she will have a son, she learns that Jesus is the one of whom the prophets spoke. Jesus has been and always will be the hope for all of us!
Read Luke 1:26-33
DISCUSSION: What was so special about the prophecies about Jesus from the Old Testament? What do they tell us about God?
PRAYER: Thank God for giving us hope in Jesus and ask for His help to both believe in Jesus and to follow His example.