************ Sermon on Isaiah 9:2-7 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on December 25, 2014
"Unto Us a Child is Born"
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders" (Is 9:6).
Do you hear what Isaiah is saying? Isaiah is speaking about the birth of a King. Isaiah is speaking about the coming of the Messiah promised to David. Listen to the description of the King's rule:
(Isa 9:7) Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.
How the people needed to hear this. Isaiah wrote during a time of turmoil; the Assyrians were on the march and people and nations were being defeated and taken into captivity. Even Judah was being threatened. So the people of God needed hope. They needed good news. They needed something encouraging. Here is what Isaiah says to encourage them:
(Isaiah 9:6) For to 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.He brings hope in dark times.
We notice four names. Two tell us Who He is and two tell us what He does. This Child will fulfill the promises to David. The prophecy was fulfilled almost 800 years later with the birth of Jesus.
I Wonderful Counselor
A Who is the Child? What shall we call Him? His first name is "Wonderful Counselor."
Today, we say things are "wonderful" when things are going well. We say something is "awesome" even if it is nothing special. We use the word "miraculous" to describe the ordinary. This past week I was reading an article that argued that words like "wonderful, awesome, and miraculous" should be reserved for God and the things of God. The reason is simple: when "awesome" is used to describe everything than nothing is awesome. So, for instance, I wouldn't want to use "wonderful" to describe a hamburger or "awesome" to describe a football game.
Scripture doesn't use "wonderful" in this way. "Wonderful" in this first name means "incomprehensible, miraculous, unusual, awesome." It refers to the wonderful, marvelous deeds of the LORD; deeds that are unusual; deeds that are beyond human accomplishment; deeds which cause astonishment.
So, what are the wonderful, marvelous deeds done by the Lord? Psalm 78 tells us: the dividing of the Red Sea and its safe crossing by the children of Israel, the leading through the wilderness by the pillar of cloud and fire, the splitting of rocks in the desert to make water flow from them like a river to the sea, and the miraculous provision of manna from heaven. "Wonderful" also is the pregnancy of an elderly Sarah (Gen 18:14), the ten plagues the LORD visited upon Egypt (Ex 3:20), and the defeat of Jericho (Josh 3:5).
Jesus the Messiah is wonderful in a way that is boggling to the mind. Jesus demonstrated how wonderful He is in various ways when He was on the earth, beginning with His conception in the womb of a virgin (Mt 1:23). He showed He is the "wonderful" One in His power to heal (Mt 12:23), His perfect life (Heb 4:15), and His resurrection from the dead (Mk 16:6). Jesus' teaching showed He is wonderful (Mt 22:33). Consider that so much of His teaching is contrary to how we think: "Blessed are those who mourn" (Mt 5:4). "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth" (Mt 5:5). "Blessed are those who are persecuted" (Mt 5:10). "Love your enemies" (Mt 5:44).
Jesus is awe-inspiring. Jesus is superior. Jesus is perfect in every way. So, it is more than correct to say Jesus is wonderful!
B The second word of the first name is "Counselor." A "Counselor" is a person who governs and rules wisely. He is full of truth and wisdom and works to establish justice. This truth and wisdom, of course, can only come from the Lord. Those who would be wise, then, must follow the counsel of the Lord. Think of Solomon. He asked for wisdom and the Lord gave it to Him (1 K 3). It is only in the Lord and by His Spirit that true wisdom and counsel can exist.
Jesus is the "Wonderful Counselor." In Him is "hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col 2:3). He is able to rule and govern His people thoroughly because He is qualified in ways no human counselor is.
II Mighty God
A Who is that baby in the manger? What shall we call Him? His second name is "Mighty God." The Hebrew word "mighty" has to do with warfare, with the strength and skill of the successful warrior. The Bible tells us about "David's mighty men." One of them, Jashobeam (yaw-shob-awm'), raised his spear against three hundred men, whom he killed in one encounter. Another was Eleazar son of Dodai. When David's troops fled from the Philistines he took his stand in the middle of a barley field and struck the Philistines down. Another is Benaiah. He struck down two of Moab's best men. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. And he struck down an Egyptian who was seven and a half feet tall. Although the Egyptian had a spear like a weaver's rod in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian's hand and killed him with his own spear (cf 1 Chronicles 11:10-47).
The Bible tells us that it is God Himself Who is mighty. The Lord is a warrior (Ex 15:3; Is 42:13). It is He above all else Who does mighty acts in battle and defeats the enemy. Remember how Gideon's band of 300 men attacked the 100,000+ army of the Midianites. It was the Lord, mighty in battle (Ps 24:8), Who gave Israel victory. The same can be said about the battle of Jericho and the conquest of Canaan.
The baby in the manger is called "mighty." Like the Lord and the mighty men of David, He is a warrior. He triumphs over His enemies and brings them down to defeat.
We look ahead in the New Testament and we hear Jesus saying, "All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me" (Mt 28:18). And, "Take heart! I have overcome the world" (Jn 16:33b).
B The second word of the second name is "God." This doesn't mean He just has godlike qualities; it means He is God. He is the warrior God. He is the God of Might. He is "Mighty God" Himself.
In chapter 7 Isaiah calls Him "Immanuel" -- that is, God with us (7:14). The baby in the manger is God in the flesh, God with us.
Let's go back to our opening verse: "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given" (Is 9:6). He is born like all other children; in other words, He is truly and fully human. But as God's eternal Son He is not born; rather He is "given." "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son ..." (Jn 3:16).
In Mark 6 we read of Jesus' return to His hometown. On the Sabbath He attended the synagogue and taught the people. Many of the congregation were astonished at His teaching and raised questions about the source of His wisdom and power. They sought to establish Jesus' identity by asking three questions. The first question: "Is not this the carpenter?" In other words, isn't He a laborer like the rest of us? Their second question: "Is not this the son of Mary?" In the Middle-East, a male was usually described as the son of a father. But they chose to ask about His mother -- a reminder, in other words, about Mary's pregnancy before marriage and Jesus' illegitimate birth. The third question: "Is not this the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?" Like all other people, Jesus has brothers and sisters. Jesus, they were saying, is not special, superhuman; certainly, He is not God. So they took offense at Him.
They reminds me of the story of the young woman who was engaged to Mozart before he rose to fame. She became disenchanted with him because he was so short. So she gave him up for someone tall and attractive. When the world began to praise Mozart for his outstanding musical accomplishments, she regretted her decision. "I knew nothing of the greatness of his genius," she said. "I only saw him as a little man."The Jews only saw Jesus "as a little man." They certainly did not recognize Him as "Mighty God."
III Everlasting Father
A Who is that baby in the manger? What shall we call Him? His third name is "Everlasting Father." This name startles us. Who here would look at a child, a baby, and call him "Father"? Besides, most of us think of Jesus as "Son", not as Father. Yet, the Bible calls Him "Everlasting Father" (cf Heb 2:13).
This name raises in our mind the care of earthly fathers and mothers. The baby in the manger is "Father." As a Father He cares and provides for us His children. Jesus speaks to us of a father's care when He says,
(Mt 7:11) If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! In calling the baby "Father" Isaiah reminds us that every good gift comes to us by way of Jesus.
The baby in the manger is called "Father." He cares for us. He provides for us. No one and no thing is too small or insignificant for His attention. Don't forget, He numbers the hairs on our head and watches the birds of the air. He is the perfect ruler of the perfect Kingdom.
B In calling the baby "Father" Isaiah also wants to remind us that the baby is the Redeemer; that He is gracious, merciful, and forgiving. Isaiah says,
(Is 63:16b) ... you, O LORD, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name. Or, as the Psalmist puts it:
(Ps 103:8-10) The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. (9) He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; (10) he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.Think of the Parable of the Two Lost Sons. Who can forget the picture of the father running to his lost son and welcoming him home? Or, who can forget the picture of the shepherd leaving the ninety-nine in order to search for the one sheep that is lost?
The baby is "Father." He is gracious, compassionate, merciful, forgiving.
C The second word of the third title is "Everlasting." The baby is the "Everlasting Father."
Think of what this means. Always and forever we can look to Him to provide our needs. Always and forever we can come to Him for mercy and love and forgiveness. Eternally He is a Father to His children. What tenderness, love, and comfort we have here!
IV Prince of Peace
A Who is that baby in the manger? What shall we call Him? His fourth name is "Prince of Peace."
In the Hebrew the word for peace is "Shalom." It means more than an absence of strife and war. "Shalom" means completeness, wholeness, harmony, and fulfillment.
The good news of the Gospel is that baby Jesus is the "Prince of Peace." He brings shalom into a broken world. We hear that message often in the Gospels. Zechariah and Simeon, for example, said the Christ-Child would bring peace (Lk 1:79; 2:29), the angels heralded it (2:14), the woman whose faith made her whole was told to "go in peace" (7:50), and the people sang about it on Palm Sunday when Christ entered Jerusalem (19:38).
B The baby Jesus brings peace in four areas: within man, among men, with creation, and with God.
First, the "Prince of Peace" establishes peace within man. Here we think of wholeness, fullness, and well-being. Isaiah speaks of this when he says,
(Is 35:5-6) Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. (6) Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.Because of the "Prince of Peace" Isaiah can see a time when every person is whole and complete: no diseases, no sicknesses, no disabilities, no cancer, no heart-attack.
Second, the "Prince of Peace" establishes peace among men. Isaiah speaks of this too:
(Isaiah 2:4) He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Those who have the peace, the shalom, that Isaiah speaks of, live in harmony with their neighbor.
Third, the "Prince of Peace" establishes peace with creation. Man will live in harmony with God's creation. At that time man will preserve rather than destroy what God has made.
(Isaiah 11:6-9) The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. (7) The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. (8) The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest. (9) They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain ...
Lastly, and most importantly, the "Prince of Peace" brings peace, shalom, between God and man.
(Isa 1:18) "Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool."Do you hear the peace we have with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (cf Rom 5:1)?
C That baby in the manger is the "Prince of Peace." Notice that word "Prince." Here is a reminder that others have brought peace: Gandhi, for instance, was a man of peace, a pacifist. He abhorred violence of all kinds in opposing British rule in India. A couple of years ago President Obama was awarded the Noble Peace Prize. But standing head and shoulders above them all is the "Prince of Peace." He brings a peace, a shalom, that never ends and never fades.
On this Christmas Day we look at that baby in the manger. With Israel, we marvel about Who He is and what He does. But in all of this we must not forget Isaiah's opening words, words we find on our bulletin covers this morning: "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given" (Is 9:6). "To us." This is so important it is repeated twice: "To us."
Many children raced to the Christmas Tree this morning. Nothing wrong with that. What is wrong and what is sad is that their parents will allow them to go through the day without hearing about Jesus. Can they say, "to us a child is born, to us a son is given"? Many families will get-together today. They will sit down to a meal. They might even sing a carol or two. But not a thought is given to the baby Jesus. Can they say, "to us a child is born, to us a son is given"? The neighborhood behind our house has blinking lights timed to music, Santas, Snowmen, the Grinch. One of the homeowners talked to us about getting in the spirit of the season. Can he say, "to us a child is born, to us a son is given"?
So let me end by asking, do you have a personal relationship with the child that was born in Bethlehem? Was He born for you? Was He given for you? Do you know Him as your Savior? Do you bow before Him as your Lord? "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given."
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