To Us a Child is Born
Scripture Text: Isaiah 9:1–7
Advent season is over. Christmas has come and gone and a new year is upon us. During the Christmas season, we celebrated the first coming of the baby Jesus as well as looked forward to His second coming as Lord and King. We were reminded of several aspects of Christmas: the Hope of eternal life we have in Christ; the Peace Jesus brings to those who accept Him; the Joy of salvation and being reconciled to God; the Love God demonstrated to us in providing His only begotten Son as our Savior. Even though Advent is over, today we lit the Christ candle and remembered God’s promise of mankind’s Savior is fulfilled. Jesus Christ was born and we praise God for His immeasurable love and great gift to mankind. As the church, we also remember and prepare ourselves for Jesus’ second coming – a time when He will come to get the church, His bride, for us to live with Him forever.
During this season of Advent we have looked at several Old Testament prophesies that foretold the coming Savior, the long expected Jesus. We remembered the first announcement of the gospel in Genesis chapter three. After Adam and Eve rebelled against God, God being rich in mercy, promised a Savior who would bruise the head of Satan. We also looked at a passage from the prophet Jeremiah, the “weeping prophet,” who prophesied of God’s “new covenant” with His people and a “new King” who would be called the “Righteous Branch of David.” We learned that by trusting in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior we are declared righteous with God. Last week, we read a prophesy from the prophet Zechariah. Even though times were tough, Zechariah reassured God’s people of God’s abiding comfort and care. God would be faithful to His people and there was a glorious future that awaited the people of God. God would one day bring judgment on those who oppressed His people and would bring forth the promised King to rule the nations.
Today, we are looking at another prophesy about the long expected King of the Jews, the Savior of mankind. This prophesy comes from the prophet Isaiah, roughly seven hundred years before the birth of Christ. Isaiah is the most quoted prophet in the New Testament. In the book of Isaiah, we read some very interesting and accurate prophesies about Jesus Christ, hundreds of years before His birth. For instance, one can hardly read Isaiah chapter fifty-three about God’s Suffering Servant and not see the incredible accuracy of our Savior’s purpose and death. The whole book of Isaiah portrays God’s plan for His people as a story that is headed toward the coming of the final heir of King David who will bring “light” to the Gentiles. The passage we just read from chapter nine is within the context of a great threat to God’s people and God’s response to that threat – the promised Messiah.
People Walking in Darkness
During Isaiah’s time, the Assyrian Empire had invaded the northern kingdom of Israel and brought great devastation upon God’s people. Isaiah mentioned that God’s people were walking in darkness. Have you ever walked in a dark room where you could not see? It can be disconcerting. In general, people like to have light. We like to be able to see where we are or where we are going. But God’s people during Isaiah’s time were in “darkness.” Times were bad. Assyria was a world power and God’s people were weak and crushed.
There was something else going on here, though. There is a spirtual lesson we can learn from this passage. Sin blinds us and causes us to walk in darkness. The problem is that sometimes we do not know that we are walking in darkness, or worse yet, we may like it. Israel walked in darkness primarily because they refused to repent and turn to God. They liked it their own way and not God’s way and as a result, they paid the price for their disobedience. We may think that we see clearly when actually sin is blinding us and destroying our relationship with one another and most importantly, with God.
But there is hope. Isaiah wrote that the people who walked in darkness, God’s people, have seen a great light. God had shone a light in the darkness. The darkness was over. The light was on. Even though it had not happened yet, Isaiah mentioned this as if it had happened. The point is that the people could take comfort that though times were bad, though they had turned from God, and were reaping what they had sowed, God was going to save them. We see the fulfillment of this passage in the New Testament. Matthew quoted this passage in Matthew chapter four when Jesus began His public minsitry. Matthew’s point was that Jesus Christ came to shine the light on us, to give us light and to give us life. Because of Jesus, we no longer have to walk in the darkness. There is hope!
Joy is the Response
What was the people’s response to this hope that God has given them? Joy! Isaiah told us that God had increased the nation’s joy. God’s people responded to this hope God had given them by rejoicing – as they should! Because they were no longer walking in darkness but had seen a great light, they rejoiced. Isaiah explained their joy with three statements:
- God Will Break Their Oppression
- God Will Institute Peace
- God Will Give a Savior
God Will Break Their Oppression
Deliverence seemed impossible for the Israelites. The Assyrians were a great army and the Israelites were weak. God’s people were oppressed by a great enemy, but God was going to break their oppression. God was going to save them. Isaiah recalled the “day of Midian” to explain God’s promised deliverence. This referred to when Gideon defeated the oppressive Midianites and expelled them from the land. Gideon did not do this by himself or with some mighty army. With just a handful of troops and the awesome power of God, Gideon defeated his oppressors. And so Isaiah reminded us, God breaks our oppression! For us, Satan oppresses us. Sin is a burden. Guilt is a burden. Unforgiveness is a burden. But, Jesus says to us, “Come to me. Give your burdens to me.”
Matthew 11:28–29 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
God breaks the oppression of sin, hurt, unforgiveness, and pain and frees us to serve Him.
God Will Institute Peace
God will be victorious against Israel’s enemies and end war. For the Israelites during Isaiah’s time this would have been good news. Not only would God break their oppression, but He would create peace in the land. This would be good news for the nation of Israel today, who is surrounded by people who want to wipe them off the face of the earth. God’s promise through Isaiah is that He will be victorious in defeating His enemies and He will usher in a time of peace.
God Will Give a Savior (a Son)
God will break the oppression. God will institute peace. God will do this primarily through a Savior – a child who will save us. The last of these three statements is “for to us a Child is born. To us a Son is given. The means by which God would bring freedom and peace to mankind is through a child – but not just any child. God revealed through Isaiah what type of person this would be through four descriptions.
- Wonderful Counselor
A “counselor” was one who is able to make wise plans. This “Wonderful Counselor” would be a leader whose wisdom is beyond merely human capabilities, unlike the foolish kings of Israel. This promised child and future leader of God’s people was characterized by extraodinary wisdom. Since God is the source of all miraculous, wonderful events and His plans are the wisest counsel to follow, God will work in and through this son.
- Everlasting Father
The child was also called “Everlasting Father.” This sounds like the child would be like a father to us, but the title could also mean “king.” This “father” Isaiah mentioned would be a compassionate protector of His people, which is the task of the ideal king. It is also the way God Himself cares for His people. The promised child would be a compassionate, caring king whose rule will never end.
- Prince of Peace
The child was also called the “Prince of Peace.” The reign of this future king will bring about peace. He will be a righteous king who will herald a time of peace. Peace would be a defining description of this king. It implies an end of war and it resembles the ideal peace described in the kingdom of God. In fact, according to verse seven, the peace this child will bring would never end. Thus, Isaiah rightly wrote that He is the “Prince of Peace.”
- Mighty God
The kind of king Isaiah described does not compare to even the best of the previous kings that Israel and Judah had experienced. These titles show that this child, this future king, would be something more than any leader they had had. Though there might have been an extraodinary king who might have had some of these qualities, one title Isaiah gave this child certainly set this future leader above all others. One title sets Him far above anyone else. Isaiah called Him “Mighty God.” Not many men, actually none except one, can claim a title like that. This is because the Savior God planned for Israel, and Judah, and for the entire human race was none other than Himself!
There must be something very special about this Son that causes Him to have God’s name. Not only would this child be “born”, but He will be identified with God. A child will be born and He will be the “Mighty God.” This child was God’s only begotten Son. Isaiah revealed earler in chapter seven that this is Immanuel – meaning God with us! The Apostle John declared in the New Testament, this was the Word made flesh! He is the Mighty God! God gave to us His only begotten Son. It is for us that God gave His one and only Son so that we may be free from sin and have peace and joy unspeakable. God’s very own Son was given to us and for us, so that whosoever believes in Him, turns from sin, and turns to Jesus Christ, will be saved and have eternal life. That is who this child is.
And Isaiah prophesied that the government will rest upon this child’s shoulders. His kingdom would never end and would be characterized by justice and righteousness. This would be good news to the Israelites who had suffered under bad leaders who had destroyed God’s people. Isaiah also assured the Israelites and us that these things would come to pass. They were certain. These promises will come to pass because God Himself will do it. God would zealously, passionately, and miraculously accomplish His plan to send our Savior at just the right time just as He determined to do. Isaiah’s readers could rest assured that God’s plan would happen. We can rest assured that it did happen two thousand years ago in a lowly manger in Bethlehem. The omnipotent, sovereign God fulfilled His wonderful plan to save mankind.
Conclusion and a New Beginning
So how should we respond to this? At the least, we should realize that God so loved the world that He gave something very special. He gave Himself for the purpose of restoring a broken relationship with us, one we broke by our sinful nature. Jesus was born in order that He may die so that we may live. All you must do is realize that you need Him. You need a Savior. You need this child. You need this King. Place your trust in Jesus Christ and you will have the hope, the peace, the joy and the love that God provides.
Another response is for those who have accepted Christ as Lord and Savior. Here is another Christmas present for you: Christ not only came to destroy the works of the devil – our sinning – He also came to be an Advocate for us when we struggle with life. Sometimes life is hard. Trouble comes our way. The good news of the Gospel is that you are not alone. Jesus is saying, “Come to me. Place your burdens on me.” The Apostle John wrote the following:
1 John 4:4 He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
He is the Mighty God! Jesus is for us, not against us. He will help you, so trust Him.
Another response is what to do for the coming year. Many of you are pondering some changes for the new year. How will the new year be different from the last one? How will it be different for you or how will it be different for Good Hope Baptist? One way it can be different is to commit our lives to Jesus Christ. I am not talking about salvation. I mean make everything about Him and the purpose He has given each of us – to glorify God in all that we do. For the church, let us be united in the mission of the church, to share the good news of Jesus Christ with everyone. May everything we do this year be for the purpose of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ and making disciples of Him.
So, Behold, our Savior has come. Rejoice that we have been reconciled by the Wonderful Counselor, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, and the Mighty God. This should motivate us to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to a world full of people who do not know Him. But they can! Will God use us to proclaim the good news that He loved us in such a way that He sent His one and only Son to pay the debt of sin that we all owe. Will He? May it be so. There is only one name given to mankind by which we can be saved – His name is Jesus. Thanks be to God. Amen!