Prince of Peace, pt. 3
Good morning everybody!
[Turn to Isaiah 9].
Over the past few weeks we have looked at this passage in Isaiah. We've talked about Jesus being our wonderful counselor and how he can guide and Shepherd our lives so that we are never alone and are always on the right path we can trust in him.
Last week we talked about Jesus being mighty God making him able to provide all the protection and power and presence that we could ever desire.
This week, we will touch on a very intimate title that God wants us to explore, and that is Jesus as the Everlasting Father.
That word Father can bring up a lot of emotions within us. IN our western culture, most people will view and get their ideas about God from how they view their fathers.
For some, fathers are as source of comfort and strength. Father’s can be great sources of wisdom and if done well, can set an example of Godliness that can last for generations.
However, I know that for some, the word father is a source of pain.
Perhaps you had an abusive father, and therefore when you think about God instead of the one true God you instead see a picture of Zeus sitting on the cloud with a lightning bolt waiting for you to mess up so he can punish you.
For others, perhaps your father was there in the home, but was a weak man or absent from much of the goings on in the home, or a work-a-holic who thought that all he needed to do was provide and your mom handled the rest.
For others, the picture that comes to your mind when I say the word father is a blank- a person who was absent in your life.
Then there are those who had really bad fathers, it’s a source of pain and perhaps the source of many of the struggles you face every day in trusting people, and most of all trusting God.
A moment ago, I mentioned before that many people get their idea of God from their relationship with their fathers.
Therefore, it’s important for us to see exactly what God is trying to tell us this morning when we see the coming of the Messiah as the perfect father who will never leave us or forsake us and welcomes us into His family forever.
Let’s read the verses in Isaiah 9 again.
I’ll start with Isaiah 9:1.
Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan – Isaiah 9:1
Isaiah 9:6For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
And the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6
Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom,
Establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness
From that time on and forever. – Isaiah 9:7
This morning we will be examining what it meant for the people Isaiah was prophesying to in telling them that the messiah would be an everlasting father.
Two weeks ago we’ve covered why Jesus is called a Wonderful Counselor- the God who wants to guide us throughout our lives into a destiny so incredible that words cannot describe it.
Last week we covered why He is called “Mighty God”, and is powerful enough to protect you and strengthen you in any situation that life might throw your way.
This week we’ve cover why He is called, “Everlasting Father.”
This is going to be a harder message for some.
I started out this morning acknowledging that the idea of father stirs up a lot of negative emotions for some, and to be honest and transparent, it does for me also.
My parents separated when I was 5, and the next 7 years of my life were spent being tossed back and forth between them and other relatives. To be honest, some of my childhood would shock Jerry Springer or Maury Povich.
I say that to say that I understand if some of you might have some pain when we talk about fathers.
God knows that, and He understands that, which is why He told His prophet to tell the people that this messiah that was going to be born in Bethlehem will be an everlasting father to you.
That’s where we are going today-
First of all little bit of historical context to the words we read a few moments ago.
When we look at Isaiah’s prophecies, one of the things we have to take into consideration is that within the geographic area we commonly called Israel at this time in history there are actually 2 kingdoms.
The United Kingdom of Israel formed under King David split after his son Solomon’s death. One of Solomon’s sons was named Jeroboam.
Jeroboam formed the northern Kingdom of Israel with 10 of the 12 tribes found within Israel at that time. Their capital city was called Samaria.
The other son Rehoboam formed the southern Kingdom called Judah with the remaining two tribes and they kept Jerusalem as their capital.
The Kingdom in the North is called Israel while the Kingdom in the South is called Judah.
The Northern Kingdom of Israel is what we are reading about in Isaiah 9. Israel has had a very rocky history since this split.
Most if not all of their Kings have not been ones that followed God at all or the few marginal ones they had only followed God on the outside but on the inside or in private we're pretty much pagans.
Because of this lack of spiritual leadership, Israel saw a rapid descent into idolatry.
Because they are living during the dispensation of law, God had specific punishments for rebellion. Deut 28.
One of the consequences of rebellion against God is that God told them if they chose to live in rebellion against Him, then His blessing and protection over them will disappear.
They saw this as nation after nation to came against them, plundering them and enslaving them. God did this to try to bring them into repentance and draw them back to worshipping Him alone.
After almost a century of endless wars, Israel had a problem in that many of their men have been killed in war, leaving many families without fathers. Also, as a consequence of losing many of these battles, the remaining woman and children would be taken as slaves or as wives to the men in the invading army. In those cases, the children who survived would grow up as second class citizens in a household were the dominant male figure was not their father and therefore, they were pretty much ignored.
Does that sound like something that might be happening today? Mom’s raising children by themselves or around men who were not their dads?
What has happened because of that?
Look at Chicago, or even closer- many areas in Milwaukee. Gangs have replaced the family and have lead hundreds of children down a path of death and destruction.
And it’s all because of a lack of fathers in the home.
The crisis of fatherhood seen in our culture is the same crisis of fatherhood seen in Isaiah’s day, and therefore this title given to Jesus demonstrates the incredible love and foreknowledge of God in giving us what we need most during this time in history.
Isaiah describes what this father will look like- a father that all of us long for and need in our lives
The first thing we see is that this father is everlasting.
I know a child who's father and mother had split up. This breakup was very tumultuous and very difficult on the entire family. After about 3 years of being apart and in other relationships the mother and the father decided to get back together. There was a lot of joy in the extended family and they even held a party celebrating the couple getting back together. The child was overjoyed that he had a mommy and a daddy again and that all the fighting that had gone on in the last several years was now over.
The morning after the party the child woke up hearing soft crying coming from his parents’ bedroom. The child went into the room and his mother told him that his father had changed his mind it had left again and wouldn't be coming back.
The child was devastated. All the dreams of having a normal family again were slapped away.
This child needed to hear about an everlasting father.
This is one of the most important applications of this title for us.
Every one of us at some point in our life has had a person that we trusted or looked up to fail us or leave us.
However, Jesus promises that he will never leave us or forsake us and he uses the imagery of a good father to describe what he wants his relationship with us to look like.
God's design for fatherhood means the following
The Hebrew word for Father means strength, it means strong;
The word father implies knowledge, intelligence; goodness
It’s a word that is meant to be something to aspire to or emulate for success in your life.
For God, the word father means He is the father of glory, glorious; the father of goodness, good; the father of peace, peaceful. According to this, the meaning of the phrase, the Father of eternity, is properly eternal. (Barnes)
This is the promise we see in the messiah’s coming to earth- not only to restore the idea of what fatherhood is supposed to be to a world that has completely lost this, but to be that father that we need.
What this means for you and I today is found in what Jesus provides for us as a father to the fatherless
What Jesus provides as father-
It’s been said that 90% of what children learn from their parents is caught, and not taught. In other words, your example in the day to day living speaks much more loudly then the lessons you might try to teach.
It’s also the hardest part about being a parent- providing that kind of consistent, 24/7 example all the time and in every circumstance.
If I can be honest with you for a moment- It’s immensely harder when you are in some position of church leadership because not only are you trying to set an example for your family, but for the entire church that your kids are going to, and telling their friends every time you messed up or lost your temper.
That’s why you never place your faith in a human. Humans will fail you every time. If you watch anyone closely enough, or long enough, you will see failure after failure after failure to live up to the ideals they believe in.
That’s why Jesus is to be our example. His example never wavers, he never gets tired and crabby, or never changes because of circumstance. He is the rock we can build our faith on, and trust in it forever.
The second thing Jesus provides as our father is Strength
I was watching a video this last week of Arnold Swartzenegger when he was competing for the Mr Universe weightlifting and bodybuilding contests. I listened to all the work, all the sacrifice, all the 4am wakeups to do 2-3 hrs in the gym in the morning, and then 2-3 hrs in the gym after he finished working.
All of that to win a title that only lasted a year, and a title that there was no way he could hang onto as his body aged.
This last year with turning 50, I’ve started to see that in my own health. Working 24 hrs in a row isn’t as easy as it used to be. Even in the last 5 years, working Saturday night and then having to stay awake for Sunday is getting really hard. A few years ago, it wasn’t a big deal.
We see this illustrated in the Life of Jesus in
In Matthew chapter 11.
John the Baptist’s sends his disciples to Jesus after John had a period of doubting who Jesus was. John had been locked up in prison for several months, and his faith was starting to be stretched in very uncomfortable ways, so he sends his disciples out to find Jesus and ask Him a question that boiled down was “Are you the Messiah?”.
But the question he asks is not the question he wants answered.
John’s real question was- “Hey Jesus, I’m in prison. When are you going to do something about that because the Messiah is supposed to set the captive free, and I’m a captive! I don’t know if I have the strength to deal with this imprisonment any longer!”
Jesus skips the stated question, and deals with the real question-
Matt 11:4-6 Jesus tells John’s followers
"Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. 6 Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me."
That was for John specifically, but Jesus then speaks to the rest of us a few verses later.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
You don’t need to be strong, because Jesus is.
You don’t need to cowboy up, because Jesus is the strongest strong man who ever existed
You don’t need to suck it up and drive on, because Jesus is willing, able, and is begging you to let Him carry that heavy load you have been struggling under for years.
Surrender this to Jesus, and let His strength be your strength.
The last thing that Jesus provides for us is the real reason that He came to the earth, and that is to bring us
We finish this lesson today where we began- describing Jesus as the everlasting father, that brings us into a new life.
16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.
Our everlasting father comes to bring us everlasting life.
Jesus is not like earthly fathers who may have or will fail you someday- he is the perfect, unchangeable, and loving Father all of us need and want.
This Christmas season, I encourage you to take some time and meditate upon that, get lost in the wonder of this season, and let Jesus become all He wants to be for you.
Peace Christmas Eve