Summary: Born to be king (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
• Isaiah chapter 9 verses 1-6
• Matthew chapter 1 verses 18-25
Name change - celebrities real names & their celeb names.
• Names obviously communicate to us;
• They create an image, a persona.
• According to my book of useless information;
• Jesus has 117 names (some say over 250!)
• In our Old Testament reading Isaiah brings to our attention 4 of them,
• Matthew in his gospel gives us the most well known name of all, the name ‘Jesus’.
To appreciate the names we have to appreciate the context, the setting, the background:
• That those names were given in,
• So let’s go back 800 years before Jesus was born into planet earth.
Reading: Isaiah chapter 9 verses 1-6
(a). The darkness (verse 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.”
GOD’S PEOPLE HAD BEEN SPLIT INTO TWO BY A CIVIL WAR:
• In the north was Israel – the northern kingdom;
• In the south - Judah the southern kingdom,
• Both kingdoms were living in dark times.
• That darkness evidenced itself in at least two ways.
(a). Dark circumstances:
• Their circumstances were bleak,
• Assyria was a military aggressor;
• Assyria had already started invading Israel in the north;
• And it was only a matter of time before it would also conquer Judah in the south.
(b). Dark spiritually:
• Spiritually the nation was walking in darkness;
• Selfishness & sinful actions dominated in the majority of people.
• Superstitions (2:6),
• Materialism (2:7; 5:8-9),
• Idolatry (2:8,20),
• Arrogance (2: 12-17; 5:15),
• Lack of good leadership (3:1-4),
• Social disintegration (3:56,12-14),
• Sensuality (3:16-26),
• Alcoholism (5:11-13,22).
• And if you keep looking, you will probably find a whole load of other things going on as well!
• In 1835 a man visited a doctor in Florence, Italy.
• He was filled with anxiety and exhausted from lack of sleep.
• He couldn't eat, and he avoided his friends.
• The doctor examined him and found that he was in prime physical condition:
• So the doctor suggested that his patient needed to relax, and to have a good time,
• He then told him about a circus that was in town.
• And he told him of its star performer, a clown named Grimaldi.
• Night after night he had the people rolling in the aisles.
• "You must go and see him," the doctor advised.
• "Grimaldi is the world's funniest clown. He'll make you laugh and cure your sadness.
• " "No," replied the despairing man,
• "He can't help me, you see, I am Grimaldi!"
Gods people were truly in the dark and there was no hope!
(a). No help in themselves.
• Like Grimaldi; they could not help themselves,
• For they themselves were the problem!
(b). No help in the monarchy.
• The final years of Israel's monarchy were a period of political uncertainty.
• Kings like Shallum and Menahem were quickly assassinated.
• The royal and political leaders of the day were also swamped by darkness;
• They were a classic example of the blind leading the blind.
(c). No hope in their religious leaders.
• Religion had become syncretistic (syn-cret-is-tic) ill: New Age:
• A mixture of every conceivable practice of the Canaanites, Assyrians and Egyptians.
• Ill: The so called people of God;
• Were even sacrificing children to Molech, the god of the Ammonites;
(d). It is fair to say that there appeared to be no hope anywhere!
• Verse 1 tells us that Zebulun and Naphtali, two of the northernmost tribes of Israel,
• Had already suffered the onslaught of Assyria.
• Their towns and villages had been destroyed.
• Their people had been taken away and resettled hundreds of miles away from home.
• Judah feared that it too would suffer the same type of fate,
• There was darkness and gloom everywhere and there appeared to be no hope.
• A little over a month before he died,
• The famous atheist Jean-Paul Sartre declared
• When trying to resist strong feelings of despair, would often say to himself,
• “I know I shall die in hope.”
• Then in profound sadness, he would add,
• “But hope needs a foundation.”
Question: What could turn the nations hopelessness into hope?
• As we shall see, the answer is not ‘what’ but ‘who!’
• ‘A king born of royal descent!’
• The people may have ignored and forgotten the true God,
• But the true God had not ignored or forgotten them!
• And into there situation of darkness,
• God would shine his light and so dispel the darkness.