Thursday, December 11, 2014

His Hand is Stretched Out Still

I've really dropped the ball on posting the last few weeks. But here I am, back at it.

Isaiah 7-9 (and 2 Nephi 17-19) are chapters filled with prophecies of destruction that are going to fall on Jerusalem. It isn't pleasant reading. But in chapter 9 (or 19) a single phrase is repeated three times (2 Nephi 19:12, 17, 21):

For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.

My interpretation of this is that despite the wrongdoings of the people, and God's displeasure with them because of those wrongdoings, His hand is still stretched out toward them. He still wants to help them and protect them, and He has put himself in a position to do so, but it can only happen when they reach back.

I've had many experiences where I was playing the role of the people of Jerusalem, and life was difficult. Sometimes I didn't understand why, but I usually knew that I was doing things wrong. The miracle is that whenever I turned toward God, and reached for Him, I did find His hand "stretched out still." It was always there, and as soon as I made the slightest move towards Him I felt His hand in my life.

Isaiah 9 and 2 Nephi 19 also contain another well-known passage of scripture, one that is particularly quoted or heard at this time of year (v. 6):

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

God extends His hand towards us by giving us His Son, Jesus Christ. It is because Christ paid for my sins that the hand is stretched out even when I am not reaching for it and "his anger is not turned away." It is because a child was born, "unto us a son is given."

For Unto Us a Child is Born--Handel's Messiah
Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Good Tidings of Great Joy: The Birth of Jesus Christ--Mormon Channel
--Who loves all things Christmas, with the exception of the songs "Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time," "Last Christmas I Gave You My Heart," and "The Christmas Shoes."

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