Summary: What is the real meaning of christmas. This christmas think of it as a time to remember that God would send us a saviour, Think of it as a time to remember that God keeps his promises.
Very often at this time of the year we will hear people say- I have already heard people say- maybe you have even said it yourself that… we have “lost the meaning of Christmas”. And I must say I totally agree, because, Christmas for a lot of people is about shopping presents and parties but that’s not what Christmas is about. For others it’s a time to reconnect with family and old friends- thats great but that’s not what Christmas is about either. For more others tis a time to reach out to neighbours or think of those less well off; again that’s great but its not what Christmas is about. Finally for some people of course; hopefully for most of you here; Christmas is a time to remember when Jesus was born.
Which it is but it’s more than that. Jesus’ birth is but one part of a much much bigger story the story of the trinity, the triune God and his relationship with mankind about how we messed it up but he promised that he would sort it out. About how God chose one group of people whom he could use to show the world how to live again how he chose this same group to be the people from whom the messiah would come from and about all the many great things this messiah would bring. So if you want to think a little deeper of the meaning of Christmas this month consider it to be about God keeping his promises to the world, particularly about his promise to send us a messiah a saviour. So today I’m going to look at the first of four aspects of this messiah that was promised to us way way back just over 2700 years ago in or around the year 730bc; a promise that came to us through a fiery gentleman by the name of Isaiah.
The context of today’s verse is as follows. God had promised the Jews that the saviour of the world the messiah would come from their tribe. Later he promised that this messiah would be their king and would come from David’s family. These promises were dear to the faithful Jews. However, Solomon the third king of Israel did not live as he should and God in response said he would split the country in two as punishment. Now I should add he only did so after many warnings. You can read about this in the 11th chapter of the book of kings if you are interested. The Jewish people of the time our passage were living in two kingdoms. A northern kingdom called Israel and a southern kingdom called Judah. So what we have during Isaiah’s time; what we have during the time that this verse was first spoken is two Jewish kingdoms each with their own king rather than the one that there should have been for the promises that God had made to come true. Things were not good for the faithful then. Most of the kings were not godly men. Over the span of Isaiah’s life he would have seen at least 5 of these kings in action and none of them including the two at the time these verses were spoken were very good. Often these kings worshipped other Gods they put their trust in foreign leaders instead of God and they did some despicable things- burning babies in religious ceremonies being one of the more dishonourable things. However God did not leave his people who loved him all alone because in amongst all of these unholy people and strange events we have the prophets. They were there to tell people what God had told them to tell them; which could be to remind the Jews of the ways in which God had said to live or to tell them that unless they changed their ways they would be punished in a specific fashion. They also existed to encourage those who were following God’s laws; those who still put their trust in God that God still remembered his promises to them because God had made many promises to them that had yet to happen. When we meet Isaiah here he is in this last mode. He is encouraging the faithful that things will be much better in the future. Do not lose hope he is saying do not look at the current situation and think all is lost. To the faithful Jews these words of Isaiah’s were of great comfort. The specifics of these verses relate to an event in 733BC Israel the northern kingdom had been repeatedly warned about its behaviour with the warnings saying that if they did not change their behaviour they would be punished and indeed in 733BC historical records show as does the bible that the king of Assyria came and took and chunk out of northern Israel. Taking over many towns in the area of the tribe of Zebulon and all the towns in the area of the tribe of Naphtali. Not only did he successfully invade these towns but he also took as slaves all the people he found there. So once again slavery had come to Jewish people. With this event still fresh in their minds whilst living under a king who was despicable enough to sacrifice his own son and all the time whilst living with the old kingdom of Israel remaining divided it would have been very easy for the faithful Jews to get discouraged. God had promised to the Jews that the messiah would sit on David’s throne and that this messiah’s reign would have no end. How could this happen if the kingdom was not only divided but bit by bit it was being divided up... and they were being brought back into slavery.. By any estimation of current events they couldn’t say that it was not going to happen soon. So in steps God with a timely message for his people who have stayed true to him. So then not long after the events of 733 where the northern tribes have been taken . Isaiah says