************ Sermon on Isaiah 9:6 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on December 9, 2001
Subtopic: Incarnation of
An old pioneer traveled westward across the great plains until he came to an abrupt halt at the edge of the Grand Canyon. He gawked at the sight before him: a vast chasm one mile down, from four to eighteen miles across, and more than 200 miles long! He gasped, "Something musta happened here!"
A visitor to our world at Christmas time -- seeing the lights, the decorations, the trees, the parades, the festivities, the Santas, and the religious services -- would also probably say, "Something must have happened here!"
Indeed, something did happen. On the first Christmas God took to Himself a real human nature.
I Darkness of Sin
A Why? Why did God take on human flesh? Why did the eternal Son of God enter our world as a man?
In answering this question, Isaiah talks about "people walking in darkness." There are many kinds of darkness. Chief in the prophet's mind is the darkness of sin. Mankind walks and lives in the darkness of sin. Sin is not only around us but it is also within us. And, much to our dismay, it often lives there quite happily.
Many people don't want to admit this. They have trouble admitting that sin not only lives around them but also within them. I remember the time a teacher showed me an assignment given to seniors at the Christian School. Students had to answer the question, "Is man basically good or basically evil?" The students must have been dozing at their desk, in their chair, and in the pew because most of them answered that man is basically good.
"Is man basically good or basically evil?" The average man or woman on the street wants to believe and would answer that man is basically good. The Gospel of positive thinking would have us believe that man is basically good. And, even members of the church want to believe man is basically good.
"Is man basically good or basically evil?" No, my brothers and sisters, man is not basically good; instead, man is basically evil. "I am evil, born in sin" says the Psalmist (Ps 51 in old P.H.). "There is no one who does good, not even one" says the Apostle. And he says, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom 3:12b,23).
There is no one – not a single breathing, living, moving human being – of whom you can say, "There goes a basically good person." There are no basically good people – at least not in this life and on this earth.
Topic: SinComputer viruses are a lot like sin. We like to think we don't have it. We even deny we have it. We pretend it is not sending out its infection everywhere. Yet, whether we admit it or not, it is there. Whether we admit it or not, we are not basically good – rather, we are bad and infected with sin.
Subtopic: Universality of
Title: Computer Virus
This past week a number of people I know – including some here – unwittingly sent me computer viruses. Fortunately, my computer was not infected because I have protection. One of those who did this was my sister-in-law. When I called her about this she said "No way. I didn't send you any e-mail today." I told her that the virus is in her computer, that it automatically sends itself to everyone in her address book, and that it even sent me a couple of personal documents from her computer.
"No way," she said again. "I am so careful." I asked her if she got an e-mail with an attachment. "Yes," she said, "but it was from someone I know." I asked, "Did you open the attachment?" She admitted she did and nothing happened when she clicked on the file. When I started to laugh she said, "You mean I opened a virus?"
She bought virus protection and could not believe what she found when the program was installed. The program found over 40 infected files on her computer.
Today we celebrate the Lord's Supper. You can't come, dear people, unless you admit that you – by nature – are basically evil. You can't eat and drink, congregation, unless you admit you are a sinner desperately in need of grace. You can't answer the invitation now given, my brothers and sisters, unless you know your true sinful state.
B I mentioned earlier that there are many kinds of darkness. God took on human flesh, the eternal Son of God entered our world as a man, not only because of the darkness of sin but also because of the darkness of oppression. The land and people of God were oppressed by Assyria so that they were "distressed and hungry." Within Israel itself the rich oppressed the poor. Wherever the people looked, they saw "only distress and darkness and fearful gloom" (Is 8:21,22).
There was also the darkness of idolatry. Men consulted mediums and spiritists (Is 8:18) and fashioned idol gods for themselves.
There was the darkness of ignorance. Men no longer knew God and His laws and His ways. God complains that an ox knows its master, a donkey its owner's manger, but Israel does not know the Lord (Is 1:3).
II Light of Messiah
A Into all of this darkness – of sin, oppression, idolatry, and ignorance – there comes a child, a son. What does His coming mean? It means light. Isaiah says,
(Is 9:2) The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. Light, of course, chases away the darkness: of sin, oppression, idolatry, and ignorance. For where there is light there cannot be any darkness. We light the advent candles as a reminder that the light has come into the darkness.
Who is this child, this son, Who brings light and chases away darkness? He is the Messiah. I want you to think of what His coming means.
Can you imagine a perfect world? A world without the darkness of sin, oppression, idolatry, and ignorance? A world without crime, pollution, death, hardship? A world without war, struggle, injustice? A world without the threat of a nuclear holocaust or biological warfare? A world without mad dictators like Iraq's Saddam Hussein or Libya's Mouamar Kadhafi? A world without demented terrorists like Osama bin Laden? A world without floods, hurricanes, droughts, famines, earthquakes? A world of love, peace, joy, hope? That's the kind of world the Messiah will bring. His coming heralds the beginning of a glorious, wonderful, beautiful time for the people of the Lord. His coming heralds the coming of a perfect Kingdom.
B How can the Messiah possibly bring this utopia about? How can He hope to succeed where so many others have failed? Think of former President Clinton for a moment. A center-piece of his election campaign was health-care reform. After the first year he was already starting to back-pedal on those promises. Or remember former President Bush's promise of "Read my lips: No more taxes"? How is the Messiah different?
The Messiah is different because He is the perfect King of the perfect Kingdom. He, says Isaiah, is "Mighty God" (POINT TO BANNER). What does this mean? What are we being told about the Messiah and His perfect rule of the perfect Kingdom?
A The Messiah is "mighty." The Hebrew root deals 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 (el z r) 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 (b n y ). 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 (b n y ) 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).
B 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 anyone else Who does mighty acts in battle and defeats the enemy. Isaiah reminds us of Midian's defeat. 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: it was the Lord, mighty in battle, Who gave Israel victory.
C The Messiah 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. A Messiah such as this is more than able to chase away the darkness and establish a perfect Kingdom.
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).
The Messiah is mighty. He is a warrior. He is victorious over all His enemies.
D You know that we are called to be like Jesus, to follow in His footsteps. Like Him, we are to be the Lord's mighty men. How is that possible? The Bible teaches that those are mighty who trust in the Lord. They are mighty not in themselves but in the Lord. They are filled with His Spirit, and in His Name and for His glory they can do mighty things. Think of Paul or Peter facing down the Sanhedrin.
The Messiah is a warrior. Filled with the Spirit and relying on the Lord, we too are to be warriors of God. Filled with the Spirit and relying on the Lord we too will triumph over foes.
A The Messiah is not only called "mighty" but He is also called "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 Messiah is God in the flesh, God with us. He is "Mighty God."
B As we look through the New Testament we come across the same question time after time. Whenever people met Jesus they wondered, "Who is this?" In Mark 6 we read of Jesus' return to His hometown. On the Sabbath He attends the synagogue and teaches. Many of the congregation are astonished at His teaching and raise questions about the source of His wisdom and power. They seek to establish Jesus' identity by asking three questions. The first question is: "Is not this the carpenter?" In other words, isn't he a laborer like the rest of us? Their second question is: "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. Third, the townspeople ask: "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 are saying, is not special, superhuman; certainly, He is not God. So they took offense at Him.
Topic: ChristThe Jews only saw Jesus "as a little man." They certainly did not recognize Him as the Messiah, as Mighty God.
Subtopic: Divinity Of
Title: Christ's Deity Not Recognized
They remind me 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 Messiah is Mighty God. He is the perfect King of the perfect Kingdom.
Think of what this means for you and me. It means a mighty Savior and a mighty salvation. We celebrate that today. In the Lord's Supper we are reminded that Jesus, Mighty God, has defeated all enemies. We are reminded that He has chased all the darkness away.
"Mighty God." The perfect King of the perfect Kingdom.
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