CHRISTMAS IN ISAIAH - 3

Isaiah 9:6 identifies seven truths about the Christ whose birth we celebrate at Christmas:

This child is born to us
He is obviously a truly human child: he is born to us. But this ‘born to us’ is more than a simple reference to his real humanity. It speaks of the birth of Christ as a purpose-driven event. We humans, we sinners, we rebels against God – we are the reason for the birth of this child. We are the ones impacted by this child. His birth was the deliberate action of God. His birth was planned before the beginning of time for our salvation. [Hebrews 2:11, 14; Luke 2:11; 2Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:2; 1Peter 1:20]

This son is given to us
This human child is also the divine Son: God’s Son given to us. Christmas is not something we deserved, or merited, or earned: it is an indescribable gift; it is a glorious, incomparable grace, freely given. It is something God did for us when we were still powerless, still ungodly, still sinners, still his enemies. In an action of immeasurable love God sent his one and only Son into the world to bear in full the just penalty for all our sins. Only this gift of his Son could restore us to life. Only this gift could reconcile us to God. [John 3:16; 2Corinthians 9:15; Ephesians 1:6; 2:7; Romans 5:6,8,10; 1John 4:9,10]

The government is on his shoulders
When the wise men came looking for the infant Christ they asked ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?’ In response to Pilate’s ‘You are a king, then!’ Jesus replied ‘You are right in saying I am a king.’ But he is far more than king of the Jews. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him. All power, all rule, all authority, all dominion, all titles, all things, are under his authority. He is the King of kings, the Lord of lords. [Matthew 2:2; John 18:37; Matthew 28:18; Ephesians 1:20-22; Colossians 2:10; Revelation 19:16]

He is addressed as ‘Wonderful Counsellor’
The word translated ‘wonderful’ is actually a noun – a wonder, a marvel, a miracle. In eighty-five percent of its Old Testament use it refers to miraculous actions of God. This Christmas child is no ordinary counsellor: he is the ultimate Counsellor, the divine Counsellor. Into the frustration and despair of our human search for truth and meaning and God, Jesus comes with his challenging but comforting words: ‘No one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me ... and I will give you rest ... learn from me ... and you will find rest for your souls.’  In him are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. His words are ‘life’. [Matthew 11:25-30; Colossians 2:3; John 6:63]

He is addressed as ‘Mighty God’
If we had not understood it from the name ‘Immanuel’, here we have it stated boldly: that this child, this Son, is God. But not only is he God; by the word ‘mighty’ – gibbor - we understand that he is a powerful warrior. He is the One who won the battle against Satan. He is the King of glory, the LORD strong and mighty, who, having won the victory, entered into heaven on our behalf. He is the One who destroys the enemy by the sheer power of his word. [John 12:31; Colossians 2:15; Hebrews 2:14; Psalm 24:7-10; Hebrews 1:3; 10:12; Revelation 2:16; 19:15.21]

He is addressed as ‘Everlasting Father’
This name once more assures us that this Christmas child, this Son, is God. The Scripture calls God a ‘father to the fatherless’, and testifies that ‘as a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him’. Isaiah states ‘you, O LORD, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name’. Isaiah and Malachi link God’s fatherhood with his creation of us all. Jeremiah records God’s Father-heart with deep pathos - ‘I thought you would call me “Father”’. Jesus Christ, whom we celebrate at Christmas, is our eternal creator. [Psalm 68:5; 103:13; Isaiah 63:16; 64:8; Malachi 2:10; Jeremiah 3:19; John 1:1-4; Colossians 1:15-17; 1Corinthians 8:6; Hebrews 1:2]

He is addressed as ‘Prince of Peace’
As the ‘prince’ of peace he is both the author and the dispenser of peace. It is through him that peace comes from God to humans.  Through him God made peace through his blood.  Through him we have peace with God. The peace that he gives is a perfect and incomprehensible peace that guards our hearts and minds. This peace is a one-word summary of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Indeed, Christ himself is our peace. [Luke 2:14; Colossians 1:20; Romans 5:1; John 14:27; Philippians 4:7; Acts 10:36; Ephesians 6:15; 2:14].

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For Isaiah, there is nothing ‘throw away’ about Christmas. For Isaiah, Christmas is not a ‘once-a-year’ day, over and done with until the next time. Isaiah’s Christmas – Jesus Christ: God in human flesh - is a permanent, fundamental reality essential for human survival in the presence of the holy God.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2016