Summary: Isaiah foresaw not only the Incarnation of the Saviour, but projected to His reign over the earth.

“But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.

“The people who walked in darkness

have seen a great light;

those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,

on them has light shone.

You have multiplied the nation;

you have increased its joy;

they rejoice before you

as with joy at the harvest,

as they are glad when they divide the spoil.

For the yoke of his burden,

and the staff for his shoulder,

the rod of his oppressor,

you have broken as on the day of Midian.

For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult

and every garment rolled in blood

will be burned as fuel for the fire.

For to us a child is born,

to us a son is given;

and the government shall be upon his shoulder,

and his name shall be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and of peace

there will be no end,

on the throne of David and over his kingdom,

to establish it and to uphold it

with justice and with righteousness

from this time forth and forevermore.

The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.” [1]

More than ever our world needs the message of Christmas. We are witnessing retrogression in faith and in religious expression as an increasing number of Canadians become so accustomed to spiritual darkness that they eagerly forsake even pretending to prefer the light. Canada, a land once noted as prominent in preaching the Gospel of peace, is advancing backwards into what must be seen as new dark ages. However, we need not despair at this retrograde movement, for even greater opportunity is afforded the children of God who is light. When the hour is darkest, we are granted opportunity to shine with greatest intensity. Let us determine that as Christians we shall shine, flames burning brightly, dispelling the darkness which even now is engulfing our world. It was at just such a time that the birth of Christ was witnessed by a handful of shepherds distinguished by spiritual acumen, a few perspicacious magi and multitudes of angels in chorus above the darkened earth.

From the moment our first parents sinned and fell from their exalted position of communion with Holy God, they condemned the creation to suffer the effects resulting from the ruin of sin. God did ameliorate the pain of judgment by promising a Saviour. Thus, man has had since the Fall a promise on which to hope. Much later we are able to look back through the eyes of the Apostles and discover that the One who has been appointed to set us free from bondage to death was chosen even before the Creation of the world. What is apparent from even a casual acquaintance with the Word of God is that Christmas has always been central to God’s plan for mankind. The Incarnation—the revelation of God’s Son as one of us—has from eternity past been the focus of God’s plan for fallen humanity. Christmas—not the artificial celebration of materialism, but the knowledge of the Incarnation—is essential for the salvation of fallen mankind.

Isaiah lived in the dark days of Israel’s decline. Though superficially the nation appeared secure, a dark rot gnawed away at the foundation of Jewish society. Economically, the nation was prospering and people lived in ostentatious splendour. There were, it is true, a significant number of the people who were excluded from enjoying the fruits of national affluence; but the nation generally enjoyed great wealth. Militarily the nation appeared secure; the armies of Israel were strong and well equipped. The borders of the nation were secure and the throne was not threatened. No major wars were then being fought and those few enemies which might otherwise menace national security seemed remote and incapable of mounting a major threat. No significant social unrest stirred the populace during those days. However, the underpinnings of Jewish society were decayed and the seeds of destruction had been sown.

Family life was in disarray. Contempt for authority was the rule of the day. Disrespect of the elderly had become a common feature of Jewish life. Parental authority was constantly challenged. Morality was openly ridiculed and unrighteousness was exalted. Worship of the true and living God was a façade, religion having been reduced to mere rituals thoughtlessly carried out by ageing adherents to the Faith. Society in general was characterised by a muted sense of quiet despair.

Into this environment of national hopelessness, God revealed His grace by sending a message of hope. The message pointed forward to events which were yet some seven hundred fifty years in the future. That which Isaiah prophesied would usher in the Age of Grace. The One to whom Isaiah pointed will complete the prophecy when He concludes His Millennial reign and at last puts down all rebellion. Join me in exploring this study of Christmas according to Isaiah.

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