The Bloodied Hero (Advent Devotion) - Saturday, December 22

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Who is this who comes from Edom, in crimsoned garments from Bozrah, he who is splendid in his apparel, marching in the greatness of his strength? "It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save."
(Isaiah 63:1 ESV)

When the Advent readings are taken from Isaiah, it is usually about a coming “someone” full of contrasts. We are most familiar with the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53. But Isaiah continues to bring new images of the same divine figure. There is the Immanuel Child of chapter 7, the Wonderful Counsellor of chapter 9, and now one from chapter 63, a “coming one” who gives “glorious” a new meaning.

Who is this? He comes from a far country. His clothes are stained with the blood of battle. He is a warrior; mighty, tested, and proven. But the one attribute that defines him is the most important: he comes to bring salvation.  

Most Native tribes have stories about warriors, but none who brings salvation. So, we start at the beginning.

Salvation is saving, redemption, and rescue. This is the vocabulary of the continual mission of God. The young Abram was a mighty father before God changed both his name and his legacy. Moses was schooled in world culture long before God called him to rebuild a people who only knew slavery and bricks, and he had to show them about a God who would destroy their enemies, bring them into their own land, and then teach them that their God could be trusted to supply their daily needs.

Enter the next hero: this One out of Edom, the mercenary soldier of foreign battlefields, driven by the same timeless mission: salvation and righteousness.

We see him coming, and we know where he is going: to the bloody battles of salvation, where the prize is not just territory, not just the spoils of war, but souls - the ones created in the Creator’s image, who must be ransomed from the folly of their own undoing. It will take blood and battle, but victory is assured, for he is the One mighty to save.

The answer is finally given (with identical imagery) in Revelation 19:13 – “He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.”  The prophetic puzzle is now complete: The One Mighty to Save is none other than the Word Made Flesh, who sheds His blood to win the victory over Sin and Death, for us.

Jesus, transform our image of who you are to conform to the victorious righteous Warrior of Isaiah. Defeat our spiritual enemies with your certain victory. Amen.

Rev. Robert Gebel, Milwaukee, Wisconsin