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During the last days of 1862, rumors circulated that Abraham Lincoln might free the slaves on January 1, 1863. While some slaves doubted, most prayed all night December 31 that Lincoln would sign the Proclamation. They hoped their long night of servitude was about to end. Like Black slaves, ancient Israel was in exile, longing for freedom. God told the prophet to give them a message of hope. Isaiah was to tell them that their sad days of exile were almost gone. God fulfilled this promise, and King Cyrus eventually allowed them to go back home. But Isaiah also had a message for us. He stressed that God’s promises are reliable. He said, “The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.” He also encouraged them and us by promising that God’s glory was about to be revealed to the entire world. God fulfilled that promise when an angel made that startling announcement to a group of lowly shepherds in a Palestinian field, “I bring you Good News that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior — yes, the Messiah, the Lord — has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David.” The birth of Jesus, the Christ has brought hope to the entire human race. For God was pleased to accept His death as the full payment for our sins. Now all who place their faith in Him receive forgiveness and restoration to God who created us.