THE NATIVITY FAST


“...The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall feed; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The sucking child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall arise to rule over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust, and his rest shall be glorious.” (Is 11: 6-10)

As those of us on the Older Calendar begin the Nativity Fast (Рождественский пост) today, I am looking at this well-knownprophecy from Isaiah. It talks about the coming of the “child” born in Bethlehem, our Lord Jesus Christ, and the consequences of His coming for those who choose to ascend His “holy mountain.” There, in His grace, we need not be afraid of the wolves or the leopards or the lions, either within or outside ourselves, because Christ overcomes the pointless, unwinnable battles of our fallen nature.

This prophecy will only be read in our churches on Christmas Eve, but I am reading it today because it helps nudge me into the specific focus of the Nativity Fast: anticipating the coming of the “child” of the “root of Jesse” (of Jesse, King David’s father). That hope-filled, exciting anticipation is what this passage is all about, written in the late-8th c. before the birth of our Lord in Bethlehem. It is also what the Nativity Fast is all about.

Today let me embrace the prophetic atmosphere of the Nativity Fast, with its hope-filled, productive “rest” and quiet anticipation. Lord, let me be a bit more present to You today, as we slow down and prepare for Your coming, once again in this fasting-season. “In him shall the Gentiles trust, and his rest shall be glorious.”

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