Summary: A look at God as our hero from Isaiah 9:6 and Zephaniah 3:16-20.
I don’t know what it was but for some reason when I was on vacation I just started to notice some of the weirdest things. I saw a sign in a restaurant that read, “This is a drug-free work place.” Really? Was that a change in policy? Was there a time when the sign could have said, “The whole staff is toasted??’ Then there was a sign in the rest room that told employees to wash their hands before returning to work, because it’s the law. The law? How about good hygiene? How about saying, “After you’ve scrubbed the toilet, don’t go make a sandwich?”
I was in an electronics store that had a sign out front that read, “These doors will remain unlocked during business hours.” I just picture the owners talking one day, “You know, we haven’t sold a thing since we started this business. Maybe we should unlock the doors.” Then the other one said, “Great idea, and I’ll put a sign up so we don’t forget.”
Let’s face it. People often need to see or hear the most obvious things put in an authoritative statement. It’s true today, and it was true in Old Testament times. Just look at this passage that we will be walking through here in the month of December. We are focusing on the titles that are listed in verse 6. But do we really need to be reminded of them. Yes, we do because in times of darkness and despair we forget them. When the economy is this bad, when countries with less then questionable leadership are getting nuclear weapons, when there is uncertainty in our lives in areas we can’t control, it is good to remember who God is, maybe it should be obvious that God is the Wonderful Counselor, that He is Mighty, that He is the Everlasting and our Prince of Peace. Because when we are afraid, when we worry it’s not that we don’t know those things, it’s just that we’re having short-term memory loss.
With that in mind this passage from the writing of Isaiah is all the more amazing. The prophet writing hundreds of years before the birth of Christ describes the work of Christ in our lives with such clarity it is like He had already come. Realize what this passage is, this passage could be called a birth announcement. Isaiah has been told that the Messiah is coming, He has seen a glimpse of what the future holds and rather than just keep it to himself, he tells the rest of us. Then God saw to it that those words were preserved for us so we could hear them.
What makes these words relevant to us today is the time that they were written in. The background of this story is one of despair, darkness, and desperation. Look at how the writings of Isaiah are introduced. Isaiah chapter one, verses one and two, the very first thing that Isaiah has to tell us, “The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. Hear, O heavens! Listen, O earth! For the LORD has spoken: ‘I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me.” This is the cliff notes version of the time period that Isaiah is writing in. He was called to be prophet in the year that King Uziah died, Uziah was a Godly king, his successors were not, they brought in idol worship and turned their back on God, to the point that one of them literally nailed the doors to the temple shut so that no one would worship the Lord our God. Finally Hezekiah rose to power as a Godly king and restored the worship of God, but as his reign started the ministry of Isaiah ended. Isaiah’s calling was to speak the truth of God during times of utter darkness and he did it with words of clarity and hope. Against a backdrop of darkness he writes about our Mighty God. As the temple doors are nailed shut to silence the worship of God, Isaiah writes that God is the Everlasting. Kings will come and go, but God is God.
How had the people of God gotten to this point? The point where literally they were pulling in god’s from other countries to worship? It is because they lost their awe for God. Isaiah writes that everything about these people became corrupt. Oh they had all of the right titles, they did the right procedures and rituals, but all of that was just cover for corruption and darkness. Darkness that flowed from the government all the way into their worship of God, until God ultimately didn’t want anything to do with their worship because it wasn’t about God, it was about insurance. Just in case God might want to bless us we’ll worship Him, but then we’ll pay attention to all the other gods just in case. God didn’t buy it then and He’s not buying it today.