************ Sermon on Isaiah 9:6 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on December 16, 2001
Topic: ChristOn the first Christmas, when man had almost forgotten Him, the "Everlasting Father" became real when He stepped into the world in the form of His Son.
Subtopic: Incarnation of
Title: Step Out of the Picture
During the long war years of World War II a boy looked frequently at a picture of his daddy on the table. He had left when the boy was a young infant. After several years the boy had forgotten him as a person but he would often look at the picture and say, "If only my father could step out of that picture and be real...."
Let's not forget the setting of our text for this morning. Isaiah spoke during a time of darkness: the darkness of sin, oppression, hunger, and ignorance. He spoke to a people who had given up hope, a people filled with despair, a people who had forgotten God. He told them about a light – the light of the Messiah – that would chase away the darkness. He reminded them that the Messiah is the perfect King of a perfect Kingdom.
The Messiah. What a contrast He is to the kings and rulers of this earth. I think of a Saddam Hussein who butchers his own people – the Kurds in the North, the Shiites in the South. I think of a Josef Stalin who, after World War II, killed every Russian soldier that spent time in a German concentration camp – on the theory that they should have fought to the death rather than allowed themselves to be captured. I think of the Somalian Warlords who hijacked relief supplies and sold food to the highest bidder outside of the country while 5,000 of their own people starved to death every single day. I think of the Taliban in Afghanistan who had their women beaten and killed for not covering every square inch of skin.
Again I ask what I asked last time: why will the Messiah succeed where all other rulers have failed?, why will His rule and Kingdom be perfect? Isaiah tells us today that the Messiah will succeed because His name is Everlasting Father.
A By calling the Messiah "Father" Isaiah raises in our mind the picture of earthly fathers and mothers. The Messiah 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 Messiah "Father" Isaiah reminds us that every good gift comes to us by way of Jesus. Think of Jesus feeding the hungry crowds with the loaves and fish (Mt 14).
The Messiah is called "Father." He cares for us. He provides for us.
(Isa 40:11) He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.We know from the Bible that 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.
Subtopic: Divine, Promised
Title: Nature's Luck?
For more than 150 years golden-breasted swallows have spent their summers in the eaves of the old mission located in San Juan Capistrano, California. They always arrive on March 19 and leave on October 23, never missing those dates. Not once have they varied over the years. Even leap year does not change the times of their coming and going. And the swallows invariably start out before daylight on their southern flight.
Now, how would you explain this most unusual phenomenon? Nature's guidance? Coincidence? Luck? Well, let me tell you. The swallow's Creator has put within those little creatures an instinct that tells them with uncanny accuracy when to head south and when to return. Their survival depends on this innate sense of timing. What meticulous care God exercises to guide the swallow and all the birds of the air!
Now consider how much greater value we are to God than these tiny birds. The One who has so marvelously provided for our feathered friends is certainly interested in those who are made after His own image.
B The Messiah is called "Father." This means He is filled with the Father's compassion for the fatherless, poor, and afflicted. I think of what the psalmist says:
(Ps 146:9) The LORD watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow ... (cf Deut 10:18)And we see this compassion in Messiah Jesus, don't we, when we look through the Gospels? Wherever He went Jesus was surrounded by the poor, the sick, and the downtrodden of society. They recognized in Him One Who was concerned and filled with compassion for them. They recognized in Him One Who didn't shut His eyes and ears and nose to their appearance, cries, and smells. They recognized in Him One Who actually welcomed their presence. They recognized in Him One Who didn't look down on them but treated them with dignity and respect.
C Finally, in calling the Messiah "Father" Isaiah wants to remind us that the Messiah 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, 13) 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 ... (13) As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him ...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 (Lk 15)?
Topic: FatherhoodIn seeking his lost son, that father is but a reflection of our heavenly Father.
Subtopic: Of God
A Quaker family lived in Pennsylvania. Against the father's wishes, the son Jonathan ran off and enlisted in the cause of the North during the Civil War.
Time passed and no word from Jonathan. One night the father had a dream that his son had been wounded in action, was in distress, and needed the care of a father.
So the father left the farm, and discovered where the troops might be. He made his way to the scene of action. He asked the commander about his son. The commander replied that there had been heavy action earlier in the day and many had fallen wounded. Some had been cared for, but others were still left out in the trenches. But he gave permission to the father to go and try to find his son.
It was now about dark, so the father lit a lantern, and the light fell across the wounded young men, some calling for help, many too seriously wounded to cry for assistance.
The task seemed impossible. How could he find his son among all those wounded and dying?
He devised a little plan. Methodically he swept back and forth across the battlefield but that wasn't fruitful. As he stumbled over body after body he almost despaired.
Then he began calling loudly, "Jonathan Smythe, thy father seeketh after thee." Then he would walk a little way and call again, "Jonathan Smythe, thy father seeketh after thee."
A groan could be heard here and there. More than one soldier said, "I wish that were my father."
He kept diligently at his search. Then he heard a very faint, barely audible reply, "Father, over here." And then, "I knew you would find me."
Messiah Jesus is called Everlasting Father. So what do we see? We see that during the days of His ministry here on earth Jesus searched for the lost sheep. For instance, He went to the home of Zacchaeus in order to save Him (Lk 19).
The Messiah is "Father." He is gracious, compassionate, merciful, forgiving. We need such a Messiah, don't we? For don't forget, sin is everywhere – outside and inside of this building, this congregation, and each and every one of us as individuals. Don't forget, because of the Fall into sin we all are basically evil people – people desperately in need of a merciful and loving Father.
As I said last week, most people don't like to hear this. They don't like to hear they are evil, born in sin. They don't like to hear that their basic inclination is to hate God and neighbor. But this is not the only thing people don't like to hear. They also don't like to hear that they are unworthy of salvation, that there is nothing they can do, nothing they can become, that earns their way into heaven. Who likes to be told they are so unworthy, so evil, that salvation is totally unearned, undeserved? Who likes to be told that salvation is only by grace?
Yet, that is the message of Isaiah to us this morning when he tells us the Messiah's name is "Father." Our attention is being drawn to the Messiah born that first Christmas Who gives us sinners undeserved grace and mercy.
A The second word of the title in front of us this morning is "Everlasting." The Messiah is the Everlasting Father.
Isaiah tells us the Messiah is called "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." As I mentioned the first Sunday of Advent, one of the words in each of the names shows the divine side of the Messiah's rule and the other word shows the human side of the Messiah's rule.
The Messiah as God and the Messiah as man – the two always go hand-in-hand. The New Testament shows us this was a stumbling block for Jew and Gentile alike. For the Jews it was blasphemous to think that Jesus, a mere man, was God. For the Greeks it was foolishness to think of God, in the flesh, dying on a cross.
The Messiah is "Everlasting Father." The word "Father" emphasizes His earthly nature. And, in the word "everlasting" we come face-to-face with the Messiah as part of the triune Godhead.
B The Messiah is "Everlasting Father." Think of what this means. Always and forever we can look to Him to provide our needs. Always and forever we can expect compassion from Him. Always and forever we can come to Him for mercy and love and forgiveness.
The Messiah is "Everlasting Father." He is always there. We can always depend on Him. Eternally He is a Father to His children. What tenderness, love, and comfort we have here!
The Messiah is "Everlasting Father." Nothing can ever separate us from His love for He always lives to give us His love and care and compassion. Name whatever you want, and it is not able to separate us from the love and care of the Messiah as "Everlasting Father."
(Rom 8:35, 38-39) ... [not] trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword ... (38) ... neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, (39) neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I ask you to turn again to the responsive reading we started the service with ...
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
Back to Index of Sermons Page