Christmas: Prophecy of the Child to Come (Part 1)
Revised and expanded
Lesson Text: Isaiah 9:6
Lesson Topic: Prophecy of Jesus, Emmanuel, Mighty God, Prince of Peace, Counselor
Preached in Worcester on 12/9/07
Preached in Quabbin Valley on 12/11/11
Preached in Quabbin valley on 12/9/12
What do you put your hope in and where do you find your joy? The world around us puts its hope and trust in the physical things of this world, whether it’s money or just stuff. Think about this time of year. We have black Friday and cyber Monday where people spend money on all kinds of things for Christmas and there’s often an expectation that if I give you something you’re going to give me something and people find their hope and joy in the gifts that they get and the spending of money.
There’s nothing wrong with giving and getting gifts the problem comes when we think these gifts are going to make us happy and give us lasting joy. It’s a problem when we care more about stuff then we do about each other.
There’s one place to put your hopes and joys and it’s not in gifts or candy canes it’s in Christ alone.
This morning I would like us to think about a passage of scripture that we’re all familiar with, one that is often read and sung around this time of year, Isaiah 9:6. This passage is a prophecy concerning one who was to come, one who we needed and one in whom all our hopes and joys could be placed.
Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
1. A Name
a. In our society a person’s name doesn’t often have meaning behind it or we don’t know the meaning, for example my name is James and I am sure if I looked it up I could find out that it probably has some meaning but my mother wasn’t naming me James because she knew what it meant but because she liked the sound and she knew someone with the same name and named me after them. That’s true for most people although there are some who pick names out because of their meaning.
b. Biblically speaking when we read that a person had a certain name that name had a meaning behind it. For example Eve’s name means "Mother of all the living" and Abraham means "Father of a multitude". The name of a person often told something about the character of the person or something about their nature. And so often we find in the Bible people’s names being changed, remember Jesus changes Simon’s name to Peter. Saul has another name that of Paul and we usually use that name to refer to the apostle. One of my favorite names in the bible has to do with two brothers. Jesus as he is appointing his disciples he names some of them.
i. Mark 3:16–17 He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder);
1. They had to be related to my family. We’re often a loud and thunderous bunch. So biblically we find that names had meaning. It had to do with the character of a person or what the parents thought of the child or something to do with the hopes of what the child would do.
c. In Isaiah the passage says "His name shall be called…" That’s telling us something about his nature and character and that’s what I want us to think about this morning. This child that will be born, what’s so special about him?
2. Wonderful Counselor
a. The first descriptive name we come across is "Wonderful Counselor". Some translations actually separate these first two words so it would be "Wonderful" and then "Counselor" I don’t think that’s correct I believe they’re to be taken together. So it’s "Wonderful Counselor".
i. This isn’t our modern day counselor, one who is a shrink, psychologist or something like that. But a counselor in the bible has to do with leading and guiding and giving good advice, now it is true that some counselors today do this very thing, they try and lead people in the right direction but usually we have a certain picture in our minds of a doctor sitting in a chair and a client lying down on a sofa talking while the counselor does nothing more than write down what the person says and then say things like, “Ah-ha, how does that make you feel”, and things like that.
ii. Remember in the times of the kings of Israel, David and other kings had counselors. They were most often wiser older men who would give the king their advice and tell them what the king should do according to their wisdom.
iii. There was a time when the kingdom of Israel was divided because a new king had asked his advisors, his counselors what he should do and the older wiser men told him one thing but he didn’t like what they told him so he went to those who were his peers and asked their advice and they told him what he wanted to hear, well the kingdom of Israel divided over that bad advice that the younger men gave the king.
b. But what does the name "wonderful Counselor" mean? This is the one who will tell us about God and about life, he’ll be wonderful, full of wisdom and knowledge and he’ll impart that wisdom to those who ask and seek.
i. John 1:18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
c. John says that the word who is Jesus made God known to us. The word “known” is the word for “Exegesis” a term used in bible study and sermon preparation which means “to draw out the meaning”. Jesus explains to us who God is. That’s part of how he counsels us. We don’t truly know what God is like until we know Jesus and see God in action among us.
i. John 12:45–46 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.
d. The Christ, Jesus came and imparted the deep things of God, he counseled us about what life was all about. That is to love God and love mankind and he showed us what that looks like.
i. Have you even said “what’s life all about?” or “Why am I here?” Lots of people say those words and think those thoughts. The meaning of life is wrapped up in God. It’s to worship and serve God; it’s to be in a loving relationship with the creator of the universe and each other. When we reject God or forget about God that’s when life looses all meaning and we try to add meaning to our lives by placing our jobs, or schooling, or our children in the place of God. We end up making the creature or the creation our purpose and meaning. The stuff we own and the money we make become our life and our hope and it leads to misery because we’re thinking this life is all about us and stuff and the real meaning of life is found in God.
e. In Colossians 2:3 we’re told that in Christ "are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." It’s in this "Wonderful Counselor" that we find the answer to life’s questions and the real meaning of life.
f. Jesus said seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, he said love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. He told us that God was interested in the heart and not the outward pomp of religious appearance. He told us how we’re to put others ahead of ourselves. Christ is the "Wonderful counselor" the one who not only speaks truth to us but leads us in that truth because he is the truth.
3. Mighty God
a. The next name we come across in Isaiah is "Mighty God". What’s this saying? It’s saying the child to come will be none other than God himself, Emmanuel God with us. God took on human flesh and dwelt among us. We read in Paul’s letter that although he was God he didn’t think of his privileges as God something to be considered and held onto.
i. Philippians 2:6–11 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
b. Paul takes an Old Testament passage where Yahweh is speaking of himself and he paraphrases it and applies it Jesus.
i. Isaiah 45:22–23 “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.’
c. That’s what Paul paraphrased and applied to Jesus. Who is Jesus? He’s Yahweh, he’s God with us.
d. This one to come was God himself living and moving and eating with sinners. If we want to know God and want to know what God wants form us and what he’s like we need to look no further than Jesus. Look to him he’s God with us, might God, or Our great God and savior as Peter puts it in his letter.
e. That means that God is not some impersonal force he’s not distant or uninterested, he’s concerned and loving and wanting us to seek him and when we do we find he’s never been far from us.
i. John 1:1–4 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
f. Then in verse 14:
i. John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
a. There’s a song that says "God is watching us from a distance". That song is dead wrong. God is not off somewhere looking at us from a telescope he was and is involved with us he came to this earth to show us that he’s not far off somewhere. This one who was to come was God himself, the "Might God" creator and sustainer of all things.
i. Colossians 1:15–20 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
1. That’s the one Isaiah tells us was to come and that prophecy was fulfilled the night when Christ was born in Bethlehem.
What have we seen today? I hope we’ve seen Jesus a little closer. We’re entering into a time of year that is often associated with religion and for a lot of people the birth of Christ the savior. The one who came was described as "Wonderful Counselor" the one who tells us about God and about ourselves, the one who leads us and shows us how we’re to live, he’s called "Mighty God", he’s God in flesh, God with us. It was God taking on humanity so he could save us and identify with us and show us his love.
Don’t hope in the things of this world but find your hope, your purpose, and your joy in the Christ.
Next week, Lord willing, we’ll continue looking at the manes given to the Christ in prophecy.