The goal of our |giv| series from it’s beginning has been simple: we as a church family want to fight against the chaos of the holiday season which focuses on and promotes consumerism, and we want to refocus our attention on our gracious and generous God who gave everything to rescue and redeem a people for His own possession.
The Problem: Self Imposed Captivity
Awake, awake, put on your strength, O Zion; put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; for there shall no more come into you the uncircumcised and the unclean. Shake yourself from the dust and arise; be seated, O Jerusalem; loose the bonds from your neck, O captive daughter of Zion. For thus says the LORD: “You were sold for nothing, and you shall be redeemed without money.” - Isaiah 52:1-3
The Old Testament tells the story of God’s people in rebellion against Him and the punishment they experienced because of their rebellion. They sinned and chased after other gods, thus breaking their covenant with God. This open rebellion and rejection of God led to Israel’s captivity.
What’s taking place with Israel is a picture of what sin does in all of us. Sin brings captivity, and we become its captives.
Perhaps in this season you feel the weight of your own chosen captivity:
- Captivity feels like weighty chains. Maybe you feel like you can’t measure up. Maybe you feel like no matter how hard you try, no matter how much effort you put forth, you don’t seem to be the person you know you ought to be.
- Captivity feels like entrapment. Maybe you can’t believe you did “that thing” again. Maybe you feel overwhelming shame of having to admit in LifeGroup that you did “that thing” again. You continue to fail over and over again and you feel defeated.
- Captivity feels like you are unrescuable. Maybe you feel like you’re too far gone, as if you are outside of the reach of God’s saving arms. Maybe you feel like you have done too much, so you carry guilt and shame.
The Promise: God Will Send a Redeemer
For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. - Isaiah 53:2-6
Redeem: The deliverance from bondage based on the payment of a price by a redeemer.
Israel in the midst of its own captivity is crying out for a deliverer, a messiah, someone to rescue them from captivity. We too have longed for and continue to long for a savior, a deliverer, someone to deliver us into freedom.
The Solution: Jesus
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” - Matthew 1:18–21
In order for captives to be freed, either a ransom must be paid or the power must be overthrown. God, in Christ, does both. He delivered His people from captivity by paying for their sins and overthrowing the rule of sin and death.
No matter what you might be feeling, Jesus came to bring freedom from captivity.
- Freedom from weighty chains. We are credited by His righteousness, so there is no more pressure to perform or live up to an unattainable standard. Through Christ, we have become sons and daughters whom God loves and is well pleased with.
- Freedom from entrapment. Our Redeemer has overthrown the power of sin and death. Sin has lost its grip on us. We now have the freedom to choose righteousness.
- Freedom from the lie. We are prone to believe the great lie that God does not love you, that you are too far gone, or that you are not worth the price. The truth is, God’s love for you is so great that he crushed His own son for you.
In this Advent season, as the holiday craziness quickly approaches, let’s focus our hearts on freedom. Don’t look to the perfect holiday to set you free, look to the perfect Son who alone can set you free.