A Child Is Born
Key Verse 9:6
“For 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 Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
One time Jesus said to the Pharisees: “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me.” (John 5:39) In other words, you’ve devoted your life to the Bible and to Bible study, but you’ve missed the point. The point is Jesus. The point is always Jesus. The Bible, both Old and New Testaments turns our attention to Jesus, because Jesus is the focal point of the Bible. The promises or prophesies pointing to Jesus begin in Genesis, and span the whole of the Old Testament. They were meant to bring hope to God’s people— to those who had faith to see this hope. Today we are looking at one of these amazing prophesies given to God’s people in a time where it was hard to hope.
Now, when everyone might have been looking for some visibly amazing sign from God, Isaiah tells us that the sign was a child born— a son given. It’s so ordinary that without eyes of faith, they would miss it. Quietly and steadily God was working in history to fulfill the promise he had been making form the beginning of time— sending a Savior to save humanity from what got us in trouble in the first place— sin. That was the great promise, the great prophesy that a Savior would come with a rescue mission. But no one knew who the rescuer would be and how he would do it. God’s people may have had this idea or that idea. But no one really imagined the way things turned out to be. A child born, a son given. And the prophesy here in Isaiah tells them not only to expect his coming, but also tells them what he will do.
At the time the prophet Isaiah prophesied this remarkable prophesy and promise, the world of Isaiah was dark and dismal— like our own world today. Read verse 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—” I’m not sure people really see how dark the world is. But it certainly is— if we look at it from a spiritual perspective through God’s eyes. The world goes on— there’s living and working and advancing as it has done so for generations. Some might think that the world seems to have changed to the better, offering more securities and greater benefits. But the world has always been a dark place generating despair and anxiety, distress and gloom for everyone. There is some delight in the things that make people happy from time to time. But the general picture is that Isaiah lived and we live through dark times. And that’s because of sin. It’s everywhere and seems to be winning in almost everything.
Isaiah’s times were times of distress not because of the trouble and hardship they experienced, but because sin ruled freely among people who no longer looked to God. They were times of gloom because even if people were to look for God, they could not find him. But it was during these very dark times, that God gave Isaiah and his people and the world his prophesy. God loved them. And God would bring them hope in the midst of their gloomy lives. God had a promise to give them during such times.
Read verse 2. “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” And this is the promise— the promise of God for those living in the darkness of sin and under the shadow of death. A day would come when God would send the “light” to drive away the darkness from their hearts and lives. That light was Jesus who came to drive the darkness away and to bring in instead the light of his salvation. There is no promise more precious than this for those who live in defeat by the darkness of sin. Most people undermine sin and the power of sin, some even deny its existence! Yet, sin is a formidable power— a power you cannot fight— a power you cannot defeat. The prophets of old knew this. But they had something in them to fight this darkness— faith. They believed that only God can drive it away form their own hearts and from the world— and they depended on God— they believed his promise— they put their faith in him. God would send the light to drive away the darkness. And that gave them hope— a hope they could hold on to by faith.
The darkness Jesus came to defeat was an immense and formidable darkness. Every Christian knows the power of this darkness that lurks in their hearts. Even the non-Christian who honestly takes a look at the inner self knows what I am talking about. Each person who looks inside at their hearts knows that the heart is dark and wicked— thoughts and feelings and temptations too shameful to expose. That is darkness— a darkness that no one can get rid of by themselves.
The darkness of sin is vast and enormous. How can anyone anyone hope to fight the darkness of their own hearts? In the past that was impossible. But in Jesus, we have the hope and assurance to defeat it. God gave us faith and faith in Jesus defeats the darkness. But it’s not some random kind of faith. It is the faith which rests on what Jesus did in his cross and resurrection that gives us the assurance to win the battle against the darkness of sin. But we must hold on to God’s hope for us— his promise that power is given to fight the darkness and to win. This is the gift of God. And it is his promise. As long as our Lord Jesus rose form the dead, we must not doubt that the God who loves us surely gives us victory over the darkness of sin. Without this hope and the faith no one can win. We win when we believe. We win when we let God drive the darkness from our lives. The promise gives us hope to do away with the darkness— whatever form it has in our hearts— whatever doubts we have— or fears— or despair or anxiety, and turn these hearts to Jesus whose light ever shines and whose love ever gives.
Read verse 6. “For 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 Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” This famous verse is the prophesy given to Isaiah regarding the coming of the Messiah. It was the shining hope that God burned for them in the thick darkness of life and of sin. At the time people were in desperate darkness. And the darkness they lived in was so deep and vast that even the faintest hope was shattered. But the prophet did not see with human eyes— he saw with spiritual eyes of faith. He was rooted in the word of God. And in the word of God he found the heart and mind of God. He found the heart of God full of compassion for repeat offenders. And he also found something else— he found the assurance that God always keeps his promises. And when Isaiah put his faith in God, the hope kept shining even when it looked as if there was no hope. Isaiah never gave up. He kept up the faith. He kept the hope burning in his heart. And with these he was able to bless his people. He rebuked and comforted them, prayed for and taught them the word of God. Because of this his people were able to breath in hope in times of distress. With this hope they believed God loved them. Many also repented the darkness within them and turned their hearts to God in faith.
The message of hope— the light shining in the darkness— to walk out of the shadow of death into the light of God’s salvation— this hope really touched their hearts. The promise and hope God gave them, according to verse 6, took shape in the Messiah himself— Jesus. He is the child born in a manger. He is the Son given us in times of our trouble. But he is more than a Child. He is everything God tells us he is right here in verse 6.
Read verse 6 again. “For 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 Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” He is Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father and he is the Prince of Peace. We should consider all that God tells us about Jesus here. Jesus is the Mighty God. He is the Everlasting Father of our souls. As our Father, Jesus is always with us, never abandoning us. Jesus is also the Prince of Peace who restored peace with God. Peace is not easy to get a hold of. Anxiety usually rules hearts. Most people are anxious about their lives, their future, their jobs, their husbands and wives, their kids. People feel the weight of anxiety crushing them sometimes all day. But the Prince cancels all anxiety, promising peace in every aspect of our lives. Even if the world is falling apart around us, Jesus the Prince of peace tells us that we are safe in the palm of his hand. If we have this kind of peace, we must find it this Christmas— in Jesus.
But of all the wonderful descriptions of Jesus, the one that really draws our hearts in hope and gives us great peace is in the character of Jesus. That which has the power to calm any storm, and to defeat any fear, and to cancel any anxiety thrown against us. We need to think of the Wonderful Counselor. Most of our troubles of life come because of some bad counsel we receive from the world. The world, our friends, our family, no matter how good intentioned they may be at times, if their counsel is not rooted in the truth of God— in what God himself would have for us— their counsel does more damage to our souls than we begin with. Life is a journey and journeys need guides— upright and honest guides. But such guides are so rare— why? Because to guide someone in the way of truth one needs to engage your love, and most people do not usually engage sincere love for person they are counseling. The world has its own ways, and it mostly counsels us in the wrong ways it has kept for generations. The world usually counsels us according to its own guide— sin. The sinful nature has for generations been the only counsel most people have. And when counseled by the sinful nature, even if the counsel seems proper at the time, it is a counsel mired in death. Therefore, most people live and die with bad counsel. Even Christians sometimes seem to rely on the world for counsel. But God did not leave us alone without a counselor.
God gave us a Counselor— our Lord Jesus— the Wonderful counselor. He counseled his disciples in love. He led them in the truth. He shed his grace upon them. And he brought them closer to God. His counsel to them was always fair and full of goodness. We agree that only Jesus is qualified to be our wonderful counselor. He is our Father and Shepherd. He himself led us in grace to his cross where he shed his blood for our sins, and died to give us life. On a more intimate level, when we come to him for counsel, he is sure to give us the best counsel. Whatever our situation, our Lord counsels us in his love to grow closer to God. He counsels us to repent of our sins. He challenges us to throw off the burden of sin and carry the new life he gives us in the gospel. He counsels us to love each other. To serve one another in love and in patience. His counsel is always full of forgiveness and full of grace. Lovingly he guides us by the hand until we no longer stumble but can walk on our feet. His counsel is also always guiding us from faith to faith. He is the Wonderful Counselor who is full of wonderful counsel for us when we trust him. We must believe this, and hold it dear to our hearts. This hope is precious.
I realized how important it is for us to come to this Wonderful Counselor in all things of life. Who is like Jesus who is always ready to counsel us in grace and in truth— always willing to bless us in our times of struggle and to lift us up with words of wisdom until we put our sorrow and despair aside and embrace the word of God that sustains us. When I think how this wonderful counselor counseled me in my youth, until I could step out of the darkness into the light, I can only thank him who loved me enough to care for a wretched man like me. He counseled me in his words until I could see the kingdom of God as my only reward. He is such a wonderful counselor unlike any other. How precious is this Counselor who has also counseled all of you, for who could possibly show you the way of light if it were not for the Counselor Himself. If we only think about what this wonderful counselor has done for us in a world of darkness, we can only thank him and pray for others to embrace him and his counsel. It was this word of God from verse 6 that sustained the hope God wanted to build in the hearts of his people.