Christmas Talk by Anne Holmes

Our reading is from Isaiah 9:1-7.

Let me start with a little bit of background.  These words that we about to read are spoken about 700 years before Jesus was born in a small town called Bethlehem in Israel.  The whole area is dominated by an empire called Assyria (Assyria is now known as Iraq), Assyria was like a superpower. There is a tyrannical ruler, an oppressive King on the throne and life isn’t easy, in fact we will read it is rather gloomy!  Then a prophet called Isaiah brings these words of hope and grace. Although God’s people were suffering from oppression, sorrow and dark times, something big was going to happen, you can feel the sense of expectancy and hope as we read the passage…..Let’s look at the scriptures together.

1 Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory. 

2 The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. 

3 You will enlarge the nation of Israel, and its people will rejoice. They will rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest and like warriors dividing the plunder. 

4 For you will break the yoke of their slavery and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders. You will break the oppressor’s rod, just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian. 

5 The boots of the warrior and the uniforms bloodstained by war will all be burned. They will be fuel for the fire. 

6 For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 

7 His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. 

So, let’s unpack this together a little bit.

V1 tells us people of Israel were living in gloomy times, dark times but that the gloom and despair won’t go on forever.  There is to be a shift, a move from darkness to light, the light is coming and the land will be filled with glory (referring to Jesus) – first glimmer of hope.

 v2 tells us ‘A light will shine’ for those who walk in darkness, and we’re told it’s a great light.  It is the illuminating presence of God.

v3 tells us there will be a releasing from sorrow to joy, the people of Israel will rejoice

v4 & 5 tells us there will be a move from oppression to freedom

All of these 5 verses point to hope….they all point to a rescuer who will come, not only for the people of Israel, but for us all.

This next few verses are what I really want us to focus on….  because this is the birth announcement of JESUS…….. the light of the world!  Now, we are this side of the birth of Jesus so we know this historical event took place just over 2000 years ago.  We would usually send a birth announcement after a child is born, but this is a special announcement, it is made 700 years before the birth even took place! This birth announcement not only tells us who is going to be born, this son that is given for us, but what this son will be like and what this son is coming to do.

V6 For unto us a child is born, a son is given to us.  Notice the word ‘US’ that’s you and me, all of us.  The child that is to be born is for EVERYONE.  This child is coming for all of us.

But who is this child that Isaiah is referring to? Who is this son that will be given to us…? This is Jesus, The son of God, This is God himself in human flesh, coming to dwell amongst us, to bring us from darkness to light, to rescue us, to save us, to set us free from the captivity of our sinful nature, to bring us hope, to give us peace and eternal life.

Staying in v 6, another thing Isaiah tells us is that this child will have 4 names.  Now, it’s usual for us to give our children one or two names (unless you are royalty!).  My parents chose to give me just one name when I was born.  We chose to give both our girls 2 names.  During Christmas 1997, 11 years after Victoria was born, I found I  was pregnant.   We discovered we were to be blessed with a son and we chose to give him 3 names!  On occasion, over the years, there has been some light hearted teasing from our girls saying Joshua was the more favoured child because we gave him 3 names.  They often referred to him as ‘the golden child’.  Back to v 6 , but this child, the son that will be given to us must be really special because he is given not 1, not 2, not even 3 but 4 names! 

Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace

These 4 names reveal to us the nature and work of the coming Saviour.

Let’s look at what those names reveal to us.  First of all, he will be called:

  1.  Wonderful Counsellor – he will be wise, he will be full of wisdom, he will be wonderful in counsel, he works ALL things to the counsel of his will.  He knows what is wise and quite frankly we do not!

The 2nd name he will be called:

  • Mighty God – ‘Mighty God’ tells us that Jesus will be powerful and divinely strong which is good news for those who are weak. Jesus is God. Now in the NT (that part of the Bible which reveals Jesus to us) in the book of John Chapter-1, it tells us this ‘ in the beginning (this is when God created the world and all that is in it) was the Word (referring to Jesus, the Word is Jesus) and the Word was with God, (again confirming Jesus was with God in the beginning) and the Word was God (Jesus is God) Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 in him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind 5 the light shines in the darkness and darkness has not overcome it.  

The third name is:

  • Everlasting Father – God is our father in the truest sense and Jesus reveals to us and points us to the Father;  therefore Jesus is ‘father like’.  He is loving, caring and compassionate.  Jesus brings us into relationship with the Father through his death on the cross and his resurrection.  He offers us fatherly guidance and excellent counsel.

And the fourth name is:

  • Prince of Peace – later on in Isaiah (53;5) we read he was pierced for our transgressions (big word for our sins), he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.  Jesus is called the Prince of Peace because He restores our broken relationship with the Father, he heals our broken lives and restores right relationships with one another. We’re talking about a supernatural peace here, a deep, divine peace that passes all understanding. He gives us the assurance of eternal life.

And there’s more……v7 Not only does this passage tell us that the son of God is coming for us all but that he will establish a new government, a different kind of government and that He, Jesus himself will rule and reign with fairness, with justice, with grace for all eternity and the best bit about this new government that Jesus will establish is that there will be no change to his policy.  He will do exactly what he promises he will do according to the scriptures. He is not adding constituencies to his government but has come to add men, women and children to his eternal kingdom.

The promised gift, The light of the world has come down, the illuminating presence of God has come and dwelt amongst us!  We no longer have to live in gloom and darkness, oppression and fear.  And to those who repent and believe in Him, He offers the gift of eternal life, the gift of being in His presence for all eternity.  WOW! Through the work of the cross, through the death and resurrection of Jesus, He will restore us to himself so we can enjoy being with him forever.  Now that is good news, doesn’t that fill you with hope and wonder. Isn’t that the best gift ever! Isn’t that something to celebrate this Christmas?

You see Christmas is meaningless if we choose to celebrate it without Jesus Christ, because, if we take Christ out of Christmas ……..we are left with M & S!!

Tonight, as we finish, I just want to ask this question? Do you personally know Jesus Christ as

Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace?

The stark reality is we are all broken, messy people but the good news is we don’t have to stay in that state.  We don’t have to wait until we’ve sorted our lives out or achieved certain goals or attained certain status.  I urge you dear sisters to accept the gift that has been freely given to us.  Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given!

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