Summary: The concept of hope as set forth in Isaiah 9:1-7 shows us that just as God dispelled the darkness at creation, so he will bring light into a world made dark by sin and unbelief.
Tonight is Christmas Eve. During Advent, I have preached a series of messages on the Old Testament Scripture Readings that I am calling, “Advent in Isaiah.”
In about 740 BC God called Isaiah to be a minister of his Word to Jerusalem and the southern kingdom of Judah. The culture had essentially turned away from God and his Word. People no longer believed God’s truth, and there was a general decay of the culture. In many ways, America today is like Judah of old.
Nevertheless, God still had a remnant of people who were believers. Amid great spiritual darkness, there were those who were faithful to him and his Word. This evening’s text is one of the great Bible texts in which Isaiah promised the people that God would send a child to be born who would bring light into a world made dark by unbelief. And that child, of course, is Jesus.
Let’s read about the child that is born to us in Isaiah 9:1-7:
1 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.
2 The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shined.
3 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.
4 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.
5 For every boot of the tramping warrior
in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire.
6 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.
7 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. (Isaiah 9:1-7)
Some people have a stressful load this Christmas season. Take Santa Claus, for instance. Phillip Bump, a technology writer for The Atlantic, has attempted to provide a tongue-in-cheek answer to the question: what exactly is Santa’s yearly workload? Bump calculated the number of Christian children in the world and the geographic distribution of those children around the globe. After factoring in all the nuances of time zones, distance between houses, and how many children live in each house, Bump shared his conclusions about Santa’s yearly task:
[Based on CIA estimates] there are just over 526,000,000 Christian kids under the age of 14 in the world who celebrate Christmas on December 25. In other words, Santa has to deliver presents to almost 22 million kids an hour, every hour, on Christmas Eve. That’s about 365,000 kids a minute; about 6,100 a second.
Bump mentions a few caveats: not all Christians celebrate Christmas on December 25, the CIA’s data isn’t always up-to-date, and some non-Christians celebrate Christmas too. But all in all, Santa has an enormous job to do! He has to serve over half a billion kids in one night as he pulls a huge sleigh with nine reindeer, while he tries to avoid being detected and shot down by the North America Aerospace Defense Command – and don’t forget that one of his reindeer has a very shiny nose.
Of course we have fun with this, but we know that Santa cannot possibly be a universal gift-giver. However, God really did send a universal gift-giver in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ, who gives the gift of eternal life to all who receive him as a gift.
Isaiah wanted to give the people of his day – and of our day too – hope. He pointed to the one whose birth would bring light into a world made dark by sin and unbelief. He wanted to give people hope, and he did so in a wonderful way in this evening’s text.
The analysis of the concept of hope as set forth in Isaiah 9:1-7 shows us that just as God dispelled the darkness at creation, so he will bring light into a world made dark by sin and unbelief.
Let’s use the following outline:
1. The Hope Described (9:1-3)