A Child is born! This is the message of Christmas! The Christmas story, the amazing and true events of Jesus’ birth, appears in the gospel of Matthew and Luke. Luke’s beautiful text is the one that is most often read and quoted. But, did you know that the story of Jesus Christ’s birth is threaded from the beginning to the end of the bible? From Genesis to Revelation? Jesus’ birth should have been no surprise, and in fact, the Jews had been waiting centuries for their great King to be born onto the stage of history. One of my very favorite verses about the birth of THE CHRIST come from the book of Isaiah during an historical time of great disobedience to God and impending judgement! Let’s look at this unusually placed birth announcement of Jesus!
Isaiah 9:6 is one of those scriptures that is closely associated with Christmas. It is a beautiful scripture… filled with the promise of an infant… a child… and a king!
FOR A CHILD IS BORN TO US, A SON IS GIVEN TO US, AND THE GOVERNMENT WILL REST UPON HIS SHOULDERS. AND HIS NAME WILL BE CALLED WONDERFUL COUNSELOR, MIGHTY GOD, ETERNAL FATHER , PRINCE OF PEACE. Isaiah 9:6
But Isaiah 9:6 is more than just a scripture we read on the front of a Christmas card… it is rich in interesting history and heavy with strong imagery…
Isaiah 9:6 was written by a prophet of Israel when the young nation Israel had been fractured in two by distentions and intrigues! The Northern Kingdom was ruled by a string of terrible ungodly kings and Ahaz (you know, Jezebel’s husband) was reigning at the time of this breathtaking prophesy!
The date in history was about 725 BC. Ahaz, in disobedience had rejected God’s hand of protection on Israel and instead turned to the very people that God had told them not to make an alliance with! Not only that Ahaz led the people into idolatry and every kind of baseness… including infanticide!
This was a very low point in Israel’s history! The people of God were in big, big trouble! God had tried for a very long time to woo them back to Him and also warn them but they turned away from Him in defiance!
During the time of Isaiah 9:6 God is pouring out his prophesy of judgement on the people of Israel. Judgement, not because he is a mean God… but judgement as a way to make things hard enough on the king and the people of Israel that they would return to Him. This judgement was a just and forewarned punishment for their disobedience.
So right in the huge mess of Israel’s disobedience and God’s horrific judgement… God stops… and utters words of promise and redemption and comfort!
I can just see it… God in his righteous wrath is telling Israel through the prophet Isaiah what will happen to this terrible king and His disobedient people…God is making list after list of their wrongs and ways they had gone astray! He is on a roll!!!! Dolling out judgments right and left… and… all of a sudden He stops and takes a deep breath. Love fills His face. His eyes are sad though, hurt by the rejection and sin of the people He loves so much…
God has such good news for His people, the people of judgement. He can’t contain it. So right in the middle of this judgement prophesy God burst forth with the most incredibly wonderful news. News of a baby that will be born to them… a child!
But not just any child! The child is God’s eternally existing Son that will He will give to them. He tells them that the government will rest upon this baby, this given child’s shoulders.
Shoulders are an ancient sign of authority.
This child, this son, will be the long awaited King! This baby will someday have rule and govern Israel!
But, God was not sending just another king… this king would be anointed for the job (meaning of Messiah)! He and He alone would have the right and authority and ability to rule with perfection.
If we think about this passage in the context of the mess going on in the time of the prophesy it must have been meant to give great relief and hope to the people. What a contrast to Ahaz! King Ahaz ran amok and left a trail of abject ruin and disobedience throughout his rule. “So goes the king, so goes the people!”
But there was hope of a new, promised King that would rule someday and usher in a time of perfect peace and goodness!
He would be a Wonderful Counselor! One so splendidly and utterly wise. Able to perfectly rule and direct the human race.
He would be Mighty God…a strong God. This phrase is so interesting to note! In ancient times everyone in the known world believed in a god. How people knew who was the best or the real god was by seeing who was the strongest, mightiest god! A god who showed himself powerful was surely the true god! So God is letting His disobedient people know that this Ruler will be THE true God himself!
He would be Eternal Father…these words in the original text literally say “forever father”. It does not mean that this king is God the Father… but that this Ruler is a forever and ever king. It is an ancient term of great Hebraic poetic beauty… this king is described as as eternal father, showing His duration of forever and ever… His “without end” royal paternity!
He would be Prince of Peace… this is the most complex and rich phrase to describe this king. The word peace in Hebrew is Shalom… it is a word that encompasses such a deep and wide meaning. Shalom is the idea of “wholeness”. It is the idea of perfect rest, because we are whole and healthy in every single aspect of life and in every relationship. Who wouldn’t be at peace in that state!
This king would be the royal mediator of perfect wholeness. And he would bring about the most important peace of all… peace between God and man! He would be the bridge to a perfect intimate and everlasting relationship of complete wholeness between His subjects and the true God!
Let’s go back to the historical time of this text. A time of great disobedience. A time of a huge spiritual mess! So, as God in righteous judgement is judging King Ahaz and the people through the prophet Isaiah He literally taking a “time out” and pours an extreme and lavish blessing of the good news like a balm over a hurting and disobedient people!
Jesus the King was coming!
Did the news change the judgement of God?… No!
Did it turn the peoples hearts back to this God of perfect love?… No!
Did it give them a promise to cling on to?… Some who listened, yes!
And here WE are two and a half centuries later… reading it on Christmas cards! Why?
Because this news… this good new of a coming king still applies to us!
The king has come as a baby… born of Mary. He has come as the Son of God given by the Father. He has come and made a way for us to be eternally at Peace with God through the His death on the cross. He is the anointed King who will have a forever kingdom!
I hope this “Christmas” verse is more meaningful to you. More of a reason for true worship. More of a picture of the Author of Christmas, the Lord Jesus!
At Christmas we celebrate the birth of THE KING and look forward to the time of His second coming. The time He comes to reign as Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace! Hallelujah!