Summary: Jesus, the fulfilment of all things
Isaiah 9 v1-7 DRBC 14/12/03 am
Read: “For unto us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be upon his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
• What is the first thing you do when you see a baby? Go all soppy? Suddenly remember you had something else to do? Try to hold it but not manage very well? Let it grip your finger? You might be amazed at how perfectly formed it is, with its fingers and toes and everything in place. But would you worship it?
• That’s what some very wise men did 2000 years ago. They worshipped a baby. What is your relationship to this child of Bethlehem- do you sentimentalise Him so he can be conveniently stored away with the other Christmas gifts until next year, or do you worship Him too?
Ever since they established themselves in Canaan in 1375BC, the Israelites had looked to great leaders to guide them. Moses had led them out of Egypt and Joshua into the Promised Land, and then a series of Judges from Othniel to Samuel kept their focus on the one true God, though every time a Judge died, they wandered off after idols.
The Israelites grew envious of the nations around them and in 1050BC demanded a king of their own. The LORD took this very personally and said, “They have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them” (1 Samuel 8:7), and He warned them of how a king would treat them. Nevertheless, the children of Israel insisted, so Saul was crowned.
Saul appeared at first to be the ideal king, as he was about 7 foot tall, good-looking, brave and generous. Could he be the anointed messiah who would lead Israel into victory, peace and prosperity? Unfortunately not. Saul refused to consult God on a number of occasions, and end up visiting a witch then falling on his own sword.
David, “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22) seemed a much better prospect to be the ideal king, but he too had serious shortcomings, to say the least. He committed adultery with one of his friend’s wives, tried to cover up the matter then murdered the man so he could have her all to himself and totally failed to control the evils done by his children, had by his different wives.
Finally, God raised up Solomon, who built Him a magnificent temple to God’s original design. Solomon was the wisest sinner who ever lived, wrote much of the wisdom books in the OT, and presided over 40 years of unprecedented wealth, peace and dominion. If Isaiah 9:6 could apply to anyone thus far, he would be the man. But unfortunately, there was a problem: idolatrous wives. 1000 of them to be precise. “When Solomon was old…his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David” (1 Kings 11:4). Even though David was a covetous deceptive adulterous murderer, he never worshipped any other god than YHWH, the one true God. So Solomon was even less the ideal king than his father before him.
In 930BC, due to Solomon’s rejection of God, the 10 northern tribes of Israel split off from the two southern tribes of Judah & Benjamin. Away from the temple of the true God in Jerusalem, the northern tribes very quickly fell into idol worship and had a series of incredibly evil kings. Unfortunately, Judah didn’t manage much better, and one king (Ahaz) even sacrificed his own son to other gods and nailed the temple doors shut in a gesture of defiance against the LORD.
Into this terrible mess, Isaiah is called to be God’s prophet and as you might expect, God has quite a lot to say to Ahaz and the people of Judah.
Turn with me to chapter 1 verse 4. See how the prophet almost sighs, “Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the LORD; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him.”
It’s not a million miles away from Britain, Christmas 2003AD, is it? So what does the book of Isaiah have to say to us?
There are 39 chapters of impending doom and judgement at the hands of God, who uses the savage armies of Assyria to wreak his revenge on Israel.
But embedded in the middle of these terrors are some glimmers of real hope, such as our verses today (turning over the page): There will be an anointed messiah, there will be an ideal king, a child born who will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.