. . . and I can’t think about Christmas much without my thoughts turning to Isaiah 9:6, which says, “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Can there be any question that the Prophet Isaiah could have meant anyone else in his declaration other than Jesus? I am betting my eternal soul on my conviction and belief that Isaiah was, indeed, speaking of Jesus . . . and of Jesus only!
God inspired the Prophet Isaiah to step forward and make this prediction at a dark and troubled time in Israel’s history. The Assyrians had carried two of the tribes away . . . the people of God . . . the Covenant people . . . carried forcefully away by a foreign army . . . that spoke a foreign language . . . and delivered them to a foreign culture. It was a dark and troubled time for certain.
The truth is that we, too, are living in a troubled time. Our current situation is much like what Charles Dickens once described as “the best of times and the worst of times.” We are struggling through the worst economy since the Great Depression . . . a frightening and record number of people living on food stamps . . . many homes foreclosed upon . . . fortunes lost . . . Wall Street was bailed out . . . and we were sold out . . . and things are really shaky, both here and abroad . . . yet, we have more comforts that any people in the history of mankind!
It was at that dark moment in Israel’s history the Prophet Isaiah stepped forward and declared that, in spite of the time being a time of great darkness, there was a day coming when there would be a great light . . . the Prophet Isaiah announced God’s promise that One was coming . . . and when He showed up . . . He would change everything.
Isaiah declared, “To us a child is born” . . . and “unto us a son is given.” This is homiletically engaging . . . and enlightening. It is diverse . . . and it holds up Jesus’ humanity . . . yet also his Divinity. Think about that . . . He was both “born” . . . but he was also “given.”
It just seems to me . . . as a student of the Scriptures, that the Bible is a self-revelation of God . . . by God. In the Scriptures, God tells us about himself. He begins that process on the first page, in the first verse, of the first chapter, of the first book, and He informs us that, “In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the earth.” But we need to know that way back beyond . . . before anything we know . . . before ever . . . ever became . . . a when . . . a why . . . or a where . . . there was God! He stepped out of nowhere . . . into nothing . . . and He made something out of nothing. He then elected to extend relationships . . . to that which was not relational; but, before He ever created, He existed, and He is God all by himself. He doesn’t need anyone or anything to make him God! He is far beyond beginning . . . He has always been . . . and He will always be . . . and none of that was even know until He chose to reveal it! The Old Testament is filled with wonderful revelations about God, but in the New Testament, God takes His self-revelation to a totally and completely new level . . . He introduces us to that part of himself of whom Isaiah spoke . . . Jesus, the Christ. It is through His revelation of Jesus that he reveals His plan . . . His promises . . . and His purpose! Those same Scriptures declare that God is love . . . that God is light . . . that He is Creator . . . that He is the Truth . . . that He is infinite . . . that he is upright . . . and then it goes to great length to demonstrate that Jesus is every one of those things! The Scripture testifies to the supremacy of God . . . the authority of God . . . the power of God . . . the reality of God . . . of His grace . . . and of His mercy. It seems to me . . . that we ought to rejoice because God has revealed Himself to us!
Through history God has revealed Himself in some very unique ways to certain historical figures. A few examples are:
God revealed Himself to Adam and Eve . . . as Creator and Redeemer;
God revealed Himself to Abraham and Sarah . . . as a fertility specialist;
God revealed Himself to Jacob . . . as a wrestler;
God revealed Himself to Joshua . . . as a victor over his enemies;
God revealed Himself to Sampson . . . as a source of strength when he was spent, and as a source of sight when he was blind;
God revealed H0imself to David . . . as a Shepherd and as a refuge in time of trouble;
God revealed Himself to Ruth . . . as a wedding-planner;
God revealed Himself to Daniel . . . as a lion-tamer;
God revealed Himself to Ezekiel . . . as a chiropractor;
God revealed Himself to Mary . . . as the Father of her baby; and
God revealed Himself to Nicodemus . . . as a cardiologist . . . and gave him a new heart.
But the truth is that we don’t have to look back to antiquity, because we too can testify that we know him as Savior, Redeemer, Healer, and our Deliverer. Most of us have been blessed to have seen new . . . and tender mercies in our own experience, and all of those wonderful things and experiences came to us in and through the person of Jesus!
In Isaiah 9:6, we are provided with FOUR (4) names . . . .titles of and about Jesus. Here they are:
- Wonderful Counselor . . . this tells us that God is approachable . . . through Jesus. That when life hurts, or is frightening, we can go to him for guidance, comfort, instruction, and direction.
God is approachable, because Jesus made that possible! Jesus is our access . . . and we can go boldly to the very throne of God . . . in Jesus’ majestic name. That speaks volumes. Jesus can open doors that cannot be closed . . . and yet, he can close doors that can never be opened again!
We can be thankful for our unlimited access to the Father.
- Mighty God . . . Jesus is all powerful. There is simply nothing that he cannot do . . . there is no place that he cannot carry us out of . . . anything he cannot deliver us through . . . not just sometimes, but every time.
You and I have seen something many times that Jesus has never seen . . . and He will never see! What might that be? His equal. We have seen our equal many times . . . but there is no one or anything like Jesus! His name is above every name, and one day every knee shall bow and confess that He is Lord!
We can give thanks that God has revealed Himself to us in the person of Jesus . . . and that He came looking for us and He found us. We certainly weren’t looking for Him.
- Everlasting Father. God is not some distant deity . . . who is way out there and unknowable to His subjects. He is a tender, caring Father who watches over . . . and cares for His children.
We can give thanks for His watch care and provision.
- The Prince of Peace. He gives us His peace . . . and provides us with blessed assurance.
We can give thanks for His abiding presence and peace.
In John 14, Jesus spent His last evening with His disciples before the crucifixion, and as the shadow of the cross fell across that room, He said to them, “Let not your heart be troubled, ye believe in God, believe also in me.” Those words comforted those men’s hearts in the troubled days that followed, and those same words have comforted the troubled hearts of untold numbers over the past 2,000 years.
I believe that Jesus was saying that it is a really good thing for us to believe in God . . . because believing in God puts us in a position to know God . . . through Jesus. I think He was also saying that there is a day coming when just believing in God is not going to be enough . . . it is on that day that our belief in Jesus will change everything for us. It is sad but true that Hell will be full of people who believed in God (e.g. the Devil certainly believes in God . . . but that belief does not change his fate).
Yes, I am thinking about Christmas . . . I am amazed at the miracle that occurred on that star-lit night in that small village known as Bethlehem . . . when the Creator of the universe, in a way that is beyond our comprehension, inserted Himself into human history and became one of us . . . and He did that so He could save all of us!
Christmas . . . what a wonderful story! Peace on earth, goodwill toward man! In the old Covenant, God said, “If you will . . . then I will” . . . but with the birth of Jesus comes a new and better Covenant. In the new Covenant, God says, “Because you could not, I did!”
WE have plenty for which to be thankful!