************ Sermon on Isaiah 9:6 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on December 2, 2001
Topic: ChristmasHow ridiculous – a birthday celebration for a child who wasn't welcome at his own party! Yet, when you stop to think about it, that's no more foolish than going through the Christmas season, with all of its festivities, without remembering Christ. Or, that is no more foolish than professing your faith this morning without believing in Jesus. Or, that is no more foolish than taking the Lord's Supper next week without believing that the blood of Jesus was shed for you.
Two women who were dressed in their finest were having lunch together in a very exclusive restaurant. A friend saw them and came over to their table to greet them. "What's the special occasion?" she asked. One of the women said, "We're having a birthday party for the baby in our family. He's 2 years old today." "But, where is the baby?" the friend asked. The child's mother answered, "Oh, I dropped him off at my mother's house. She's taking care of him until the party's over. It wouldn't have been any fun with him along."
I The Messiah
A Isaiah spoke and ministered in a time of spiritual darkness – a time much like ours. It was a time when truth was scarce (8:16) and superstition abounded (8:19). The distressed and hungry were to be found everywhere (8:21).
When the prophet Isaiah looks at the world he lives in he sees so much darkness. He sees that the people of God have been infiltrated by heathen influences and no longer keep themselves pure and undefiled. He sees men and women and children who refuse to serve and obey God: the people have lost God's way (vs 20); they consult mediums and spiritists (vs 19). They either have made a deliberate decision to do without God in their lives or they have chosen to ignore Him. Whatever the case may be, these men and women and children live in sin and in rebellion against God and His ways.
Isaiah also looks at the darkness in the public institutions of his day. He sees kings, rulers, priests, and prophets who are first in line to sin against God. He sees injustice and evil on the part of the rich and powerful against the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the alien. He sees false prophets and teachers that lead thousands astray with their lies and heresies. He sees that the land of Israel has been invaded and conquered by the heathen Assyrians.
Isaiah sees a spirit-filled world of darkness too. He knows about Satan and his host of evil spirits and demons. He knows how they oppose God and His kingdom at every turn. He knows how they rejoice in lies, prejudice, arrogance, wrongs, and every form of sin.
Lastly, Isaiah looks within his own heart. He sees that darkness is there as well (Is 6:5). He knows that within himself and you and me there is sin and evil and all sorts of desires that run counter to the will of God.
Darkness. Darkness everywhere. Deep darkness. Darkness that many times throughout history has threatened to prevail. I think of the days of Noah. When God looked down from heaven upon the world of men, he saw only one family that still loved Him and served Him. I think of Sodom and Gomorrah. Not even 10 righteous persons could be found in that city. I think of Israel during the days of Elijah. Out of a population numbered in the millions, only 7,000 did not bend the knee before Baal. I think of Nazi Germany or the former Communist regimes of Eastern Europe, or what used to be the U.S.S.R. I think of China. I think of Western Europe – less than 10 percent of the people attend church on a regular basis anymore. I think of a horrible divorce rate in our country – for every two couples getting married there is one couple getting divorced. I think of the increasing acceptance of adultery and premarital sex – so much so that most newly weds are not virgins. I think of the violence and guns that make our cities dangerous places to live and work. I think of the push to make gay relationships and lifestyles acceptable. I think of churches and pastors that no longer preach the Gospel. Darkness is everywhere.
B Into this darkness, says Isaiah, there will come a light. [That's why we light candles during Advent.] What or Who is this light? Isaiah speaks to us of a "child," a "son," Who "will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom." He tells us, "the government will be on His shoulders."
Isaiah is talking here of the Messiah. The Messiah. No Jewish child of God could speak or hear that name without a lump forming in his or her throat. The Messiah. When He comes He will sit on David's throne and rule forever and ever. When He comes He will establish justice and righteousness. When He comes all that is wrong in the world will be set right. When He comes Israel will triumph over its enemies. When He comes deserts will be turned into gardens and the wilderness into lush pastures. When He comes the lame will walk, the blind see, the deaf hear, and the mute talk. When He comes Israel will be at the center of the earth and all nations will stream through her gates. When He comes warrior's boots and blood-stained garments will be burned in the fire (9:5), swords will be beat into plowshares, spears will be turned into pruning hooks, and nation will not take up sword against nation anymore (2:4). When He comes the darkness will be chased away.
The Messiah. His rule will be perfect. His Kingdom will be everlasting. His dominion will extend from sea to sea.
C The Messiah. It is He Who is called Wonderful Counselor (POINT TO BANNER AND HOLD UP BULLETIN), Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
For Advent this year, as we prepare ourselves to celebrate the birth of Christ, I want to look at those four names given to the Messiah in Isaiah 9:6. In each name one of the two words always emphasizes the human side of the Messiah's rule and the other the God side. But, then, it is Messiah Jesus Who bridges the gap between God and man. When He, the eternal Son of God, took on human flesh, He became Immanuel, God with us.
Topic: ChristIn the same way, Jesus in the flesh bridges the gap between God and man.
Subtopic: Mission of
Title: Bridging the Gap
In 1936 a radio broadcast was transmitted to America from England. Just before the voice of King Edward VIII was to be heard, someone stumbled over a wire in the control room of WJZ (now WABC, New York) and snapped the only line of communication between the two great countries. The engineers were frantic. Then, with only a few moments remaining before air time a quick thinking apprentice grasped the two broken ends of the wire and bridged the gap. Seconds later the King addressed the nation. In a real sense, his words were being transmitted through the body of that man!
Today we will look at Wonderful Counselor. What does this name mean? What does it tell us about Messiah Jesus?
A Isaiah begins by telling us the Messiah is Wonderful (POINT TO BANNER). The Hebrew word which we translate as "wonderful, marvelous" occurs 81 times in the Old Testament. It always refers to the wonderful, marvelous deeds of the LORD or the wonderful, marvelous deeds the Lord makes possible in and through man. For instance, the Psalmist can say about the LORD:
(Ps 78:12) Marvelous things did he in the sight of their fathers, in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan. (KJV)What are these wonderful, marvelous deeds? The Psalmist tells us: the dividing of the Red Sea and its safe crossing by the children of Israel, leading through the wilderness by the pillar of cloud and fire, splitting the rocks of the desert to make water flow from them like a river to the sea, and the miraculous provision of manna from heaven. The Hebrew word also refers to 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).
B In talking about the LORD and the wonder of His ways Scripture makes two statements that don't need a response. The first statement we hear when God talks to Abraham about Sarah bearing a child after her child-bearing years are over. Abraham and Sarah hear this and laugh. And the wonder-working, marvel-doing God says, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" (Gen 18:14). The second statement we hear when the angel announces that Mary will conceive and bear a child – the Child. "How will this be," asks Mary, "since I am a virgin?" The angel's response: "For nothing is impossible with God" (Lk 1:37).
The Messiah – His name is Wonderful. Do you realize what this means? Do you realize what this says about Him? His name is Wonderful. Therefore, is anything too hard for Him? His name is Wonderful. Therefore, nothing is impossible with Him. His name is Wonderful. He can do anything, anything He wants to do. He knows no limits. He has no boundaries.
His name is Wonderful; therefore, He must be God. His name is Wonderful; therefore, He is part of the Godhead.
C The Messiah is Wonderful. But why? Don't forget, He will sit upon the throne of David forever, He will set all wrongs right, He will establish justice and righteousness, and He will dispel the darkness. This reminds us that the wonder of the Messiah is not just to demonstrate or display His power but, rather, to bring grace and mercy and peace and salvation to the people of God. He is Wonderful so that we can be saved by the power of His blood – something we celebrate next week. He is Wonderful so that we and our children can believe and confess and be saved – something we celebrate this week.
A The second word of the first pair is "Counselor" (POINT TO BANNER). This shows the human side of the Messiah's rule. The first occurrence of this Hebrew word is heard from the lips of Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses. Jethro saw the tremendous burden Moses was under and said,
(Ex 18:19) Listen now to me and I will give you some advice ("counsel" in the Hebrew), and may God be with you.Jethro advised Moses to continue as the people's representative before God. At the same time he advised Moses to appoint officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens and let them serve as judges for the people. We can say that Jethro functioned as the counselor of Moses.
Ahithophel and Hushai were counselors to David. When Absalom rebelled against his father he listened to the bad advice of Hushai instead of the good advice of Ahithophel.
It is important, very important, that kings and rulers have good counselors – people to advise them in the job of ruling and forming a government. For no ruler is better than the advisors surrounding him. On the White House web-site President Bush says "The success of the Bush-Cheney administration will depend on the quality appointees we choose ..." So our President has done his best to pick good counselors: Colin Powell, Condi Rice, Vice-President Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Tommy Thomson, John Ashcroft, Paul O'Neill, and others.
I can't help but think that if President Nixon had better counselors – men of courage and moral stature – Watergate would never have happened. And, if President Reagan had better counselors, it is doubtful that Iran-Contra would have happened. On the other hand, it is because of the good advice of someone like Cyrus Vance that President Carter was able to bring about the Camp David accords between Israel and Egypt. And, it is because of the good counsel of Henry Kissinger that President Nixon was able to recognize China and end the Viet Nam war. Good counselors are important.
B What makes for a good counselor? A good counselor is one who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked (Ps 1:1). A good counselor is one who listens to the counsel of the Lord (Prov 19:20-21). This is so because all good counsel is a gift from the Spirit of the Lord. Isaiah can speak of
(Is 11:2) ... the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD ...In fact, it is the Lord Himself Who is the spring, the root, of all counsel.
(Is 28:29) All this also comes from the LORD Almighty, wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom.
Those who would be good leaders, then, must follow the counsel of the Lord. Think of Solomon. He asked for wisdom and the Lord gave it to him (1 Kings 3). It is only in the Lord and by His Spirit that true wisdom and counsel can exist.
C The Messiah – His name is Counselor. Do you realize what this means? This means that in Him is hid all the treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God (Col 2:3). The Messiah – His name is Counselor. This means that upon Him the Spirit of wisdom rests (Is 11:2). The Messiah – His name is Counselor. This means He has no need of being surrounded with counselors and advisors as is the case with mere human kings; He is Himself Counselor.
D The Messiah is Counselor. But why? Don't forget, He will sit upon the throne of David forever, He will set all wrongs right, He will establish justice and righteousness, and He will dispel the darkness. He needs wisdom such as no other man can possibly possess.
Wonderful and Counselor – in the Messiah we see these two coming together in one person. As Counselor He is almighty – there is nothing He cannot do. And as Wonderful He is perfectly wise – always knowing the perfect and right thing to do.
Wonderful Counselor (POINT TO BANNER). Never before have the two come together in one man. But, then, never before has God taken on human flesh and dwelt among us full of grace and truth. Wonderful Counselor. Perfect God and perfect man.
Let us end using the responsive reading we started the worship with ...
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