Summary: The in-breaking of the holy into the world of men.
UNTO US A SON IS GIVEN
1. Troubled times
It is quite appropriate that the sign of God’s deliverance from oppressive times should be in the birth of a child: for He says, “My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Whether in Judah’s oppression by Aram and Samaria, Assyria and Babylon; Judaea’s oppression by Herod and Rome; or present day concerns in the midst of regional upheavals, and international posturing and sabre-rattling; or even in modern disputes concerning who really owns Bethlehem: all the hopes of all the years are, ultimately, wrapped in the swaddling clothes of the babe in the manger. The boots of the tramping warriors (Isaiah 9:5) are at last silenced in the stillness of the silent night.
2. Light in the darkness
One of the motifs of the incarnation is of light breaking into the darkness (Isaiah 9:2). There is still much darkness in the world, but when the true light comes the darkness cannot extinguish the light (John 1:5). Even the shadow of death flees at His presence (Psalm 23:4).
Jesus is the true light (John 1:9) - as opposed to the false light of paganism, or the relative light of the types and shadows of the Old Covenant. His is original light as opposed to reflected light: the light of the sun as opposed to the light of the moon. His light is full, as opposed to partial.
There is an outbreak of joy on account of this nativity - like the joy of harvest, or the joy of a day of victory in war (Isaiah 9:3). It is like deliverance after captivity, the breaking of the yoke of the oppressor (Isaiah 9:4), and the destruction of the enemy (Isaiah 9:5). Whatever may remain as yet unfulfilled in relation to the reign of Messiah, for now the angels and shepherds celebrate the birth of a child, the in-breaking of the holy into the world of men.
4. The royal titles of Jesus
WONDERFUL: When the angel of the LORD was asked His name (Judges 13:18), he replied “it is secret” - or “it is beyond understanding” - the word used in the Hebrew is equivalent to the word here translated as “Wonderful.”
COUNSELLOR: Isaiah speaks later of “the spirit of counsel” resting upon Jesus (Isaiah 11:2). Jesus comes alongside as our advisor, to give wisdom and understanding through the Word and prayer, through His Holy Spirit and, on occasion, through His servants. He comes alongside as our advocate, justifying us before the bar of God’s law, and vanquishing on our behalf “the accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10).
THE MIGHTY GOD: That Jesus is God is taught throughout Scripture. For example, in John’s Gospel every time Jesus took upon His lips the words “I am” He was addressing Himself with the name of God. The Apostle Paul accredits Jesus with names and attributes that are understood from the Old Testament to belong to God, for “in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). That God is mighty goes without saying!
THE EVERLASTING FATHER: Jesus said, “I and the Father are One” - and those who took up stones to stone Him did so because they clearly understood that He was “making Himself equal with God” (John 10:30; John 10:33).
5. The zeal of the LORD
The first thing we learn about this new King is that He comes to us as a man-child (Isaiah 9:6). Jesus’ preferred title for Himself is “Son of man” - but He acknowledges that He is also the Son of God (Matthew 16:13; Matthew 16:16-17). The eternal Son of God became man, and dwelt among us.
Secondly, He is born king (cf. Matthew 2:2). There was nothing untimely about the birth and accession of Jesus (Galatians 4:4)! The government laid upon the shoulder of the young child (Isaiah 9:6) heralded the renovation of the house of David after a very long interregnum (Isaiah 9:7).
There are aspects of this prophecy which remain as yet unfulfilled: but “the zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish it” (Isaiah 9:7).