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A Child is Born for Us

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A Child Is Born For Us

Isaiah 9:1-7
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— 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. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder. For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. 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. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

Pray

As we celebrate Advent

Context of our great passage –

Corrupt People- the Why of Christmas

-         Isaiah 8:18-22

-         Here am I, and the children the Lord has given me. We are signs and symbols in Israel from the Lord Almighty, who dwells on Mount Zion. When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn. Distressed and hungry, they will roam through the land; when they are famished, they will become enraged and, looking upward, will curse their king and their God. Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness.

-          – What were the people of Israel doing?  Although they had been entrusted with the very Word of God and although they had even the prophet Isaiah – as a sign and symbol preaching to them they decided to consult the occult.  Isaiah was baffled by this people, the people who had God’s Word.  He even asks them, when men tell you to go and consult these false religions, should you not pause for a second and ask God?

The world is no different today is it?  For nearly every home in our nation has at least one copy of the Bible and yet like the people in Isaiah’s day we pursue the advice of those who are spiritually dead and the last place we go is to God’s word.  And we have a world full of people who are faminished for truth and living in distress and darkness and fearful gloom. —Actor Orlando Bloom “If life isn't about humanity, then tell me what it's all about, because I'd love to know. Money and power aren't what life is about. It can't be.”

-         If Isaiah was writing to our world today he might put it like this:

When men tell you to consult media experts, the internet, horoscopes, false religions and cults, and a world system which denies the very existence of God, those who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult those who don’t have life in them? Go to God’s Word! If what you are feeding your heart and mind does not speak according to his Word, then they have no light of dawn. Distressed and hungry, they will roam through the land; when they are famished, they will become enraged and feeling guilt, they look upward, and  will curse their king and their God. Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness.

Lest we be tempted to say - yes, it's that lousy culture, it's that cesspool of society that is so awful- we must remember that Isaiah was writing to God’s people Israel. And although God has rescued us from this darkness and gloom we, as the Church as God’s People,  far too often run headlong right back.  We must take a long, hard look at the church (which should be redeeming the culture) and each of us as individuals and realize that we are distressed and hungry as Isaiah puts it because we have not fed on the truth of God's Word, we are in darkness because we have not allowed the light of his Word to shine into our lives and reveal our hearts for what they are.  For while Christ is transforming us by his Grace, far too often our hearts are transfixed onto the same media as our culture and we are not inquiring of our God.  The lies we tell ourselves and others come from the overflow of the heart, when our eyes wander to the delights of the flesh and the material goods around us we need to remember that, as Augustine says the unchaste eye carries the message of an impure heart.  When our minds delight on the success of this world our hearts are not focused on heaven and when we are famined because the world can not satisfy we also do look up and curse our king and our God.  We are the people living in darkness, we are the people in distress, we are the corrupt people in need of Christmas day.

          - Reflect on your life now, as you enter 2007, what is the biggest problem in your life? If you believe your biggest problem is anything other than sin in your life and sin in this world then you will do not get Christmas.

The Glory of Christmas is that God does not leave us living in darkness

Well point one we can relate to – A Corrupt People

The next point, I feel that we cannot really relate to, instead we need to be in wonder about – we must take time each year to reflect on how God put into place his plan because if we don’t reflect we will take it granted and miss it.

That is point 2 is a

Compassionate Plan-the How of Christmas

Verse 1 of chapter 9 – our passage- starts with the word -Nevertheless –

Gospel is always a surprise - when the world is left in darkness and gloom – they are left hopeless.  

When faced with hopelessness and gloom

-         every religion on earth shouts out try harder,

-         humanistic philosophy says, “its not your fault blame someone else”,

-         and our media centered society says, “cover it up with entertainment- try to forget your woes.”

 Only Christ comes back with hope.  That is why chapter 9 starts out with the word – nevertheless.   Let me ask you a question, “do you reflect hope to the world around you?”  This is a distinctly Christian thing to do.  Christians alone can reflect – nevertheless-  to the world around us – because nevertheless means grace.  Look at verse 1-  Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress and moving down to 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 shown. 

There is a gift of grace.- It’s a compassionate plan -

         

          - Have you noticed that the best gifts are gifts that have been planned that have some thought put into them.  It should be no surprise then that this ultimate gift from God was planned.

          - God had planned to give this gift to the world before he had made the world itself.    He planned it, every detail.  This is the teaching of the whole of the Bible.    Before the foundation of the earth.  Why Bethlehem? Why to a young unmarried woman?  Why announced to Shepherds? It was because God had planned it that way.  We could go on – why at such a time when the stars would speak to Magi from the east (and for an incredible answer to that one – you need to come on Thursday or Friday to the Bethlehem Star Presentation – you will not be disappointed.)  But what we see from all this is that God had a plan, a plan he put into place before even creating the stars.  As Paul said in Galatians – it was in the fullness of time – at the apex of time – that God put everything into motion.   And as we will see in our passage that God had the exact moment in mind and the exact details worked out.

That is why it is so wonderful – so full of wonder – to celebrate Christmas.  Because each year we remember that God’s plan from all eternity – a plan that would change humanity forever– started going into motion!  And we see that our God is a God who his faithful to the promises he made to Isaiah he is the God who is true.

          - Once again, take time this Christmas season to reflect even on this passage -  be in magical wonder about the incarnation – for as J. Sidlow Baxter says, In the super-miracle of the Incarnation, our very Creator, Preserver, Judge, becomes our Kinsman, Sinbearer, Redeemer! Of all miracles and mysteries this is the most staggering.

For this is a plan only God could come up with- think about it how would you have carried out the plan of redemption?  This is where I want you to pause this advent

– I can guarantee you, if I was to draw up a plan it wouldn’t have looked at all like this – and the wonder of his love would be missing.   Let me explain

Every aspect of the coming of Jesus Christ is a surprise – we are just too familiar with it to be in awe as we should. From the least likely to the most unexpected, the coming of the Son of God to Earth has it all.

Location and Means

Location- How would I have planned the debut of the Savior of the World - – first of all it would have been in a large city – probably at that time Rome maybe Jerusalem.

a) Galilee- where Jesus would spend most of his ministry -  Out of Galilee – the place that always needed to be rescued – a rescuer would come - 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

b) Bethlehem – Micah 5:2 – when Joshua divided up the land he listed 115 cities and towns – no Bethlehem

          c) Manger- Humility

                             - problem of Manger Scenes – they don’t smell

                             - Shepherds

Our Lord came down from life to suffer death;
the Bread came down, to hunger;
the Way came down, on the way to weariness;
the Fount came down, to thirst.
—Augustine, Sermon 78

Means-

          How would you have carried out bringing God himself to earth.  If you are like me, you would have had him come in the form of a powerful General with a huge force.  I’ve enjoyed playing the game of Risk….  That what the Jewish people were expecting.  But they shouldn’t have for Isaiah says in verse 4 – that this coming hope would take place As in he day of Midian’s defeat.

          - As in the day of Midians Defeat- Gideon

       Judges 7  2 The Lord said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ 3   And what God did was widdle and army down from 22,000 to 300.

       - Not by might nor by power but by my Spirit declares the Lord

And so the Messiah would come in the form of a baby.  Verse 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.

       God’s Means are not by the might and power of the world.  His kingdom is not spread by military might nor by political power, but it is spread by the gospel going forth from his people and his Spirit working in heart after heart transforming powerfully each of us who has met Jesus.

         

          But make no mistake even though you can’t measure the force of God’s power in military or political terms there has never been more power concentrated in a single place on earth than in the manger in Bethlehem.  And with God’s Spirit living in you – that same power resides in us – to change us and to change our world.

One theologian wrote Who would have had sufficient daring of imagination to conceive that God Almighty would have appeared among men as a little child? We should have conceived something sensational, phenomenal, catastrophic, appalling! The most awful of the natural elements would have formed His retinue, and men would be chilled and frozen with fear. But, He came as a little child. The great God "emptied Himself"; He let in the light as our eyes were able to bear it.     

-         To a corrupt people like us, God’s plan is full of compassion and his coming to an unknown town like Bethlehem, in the form of a baby, to an unmarried woman, announced to the dregs of society the Shepherds, and he would proclaim his everlasting kingdom from Galilee a place of constant plunder, all of this tells us of his compassion in that there is nothing or no one beyond the call of the gospel.  The humility of God in his plan of compassion had revealed to us that He is a God of Grace and Love.

Comprehensive Provision – the How much of Christmas

Isaiah 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.

-          (unto us a child is born) A Child is born FOR US

-         For us a Son is given- not just any Son but the Son of God

-         Gift reveals much about the giver – what is the greatest gift you have ever given anyone?  How about to your enemies?  I bet it didn’t come close to giving away your child.  For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…

Names mean much….

          His name (singular) shall be called – one name – at the name of Jesus – but in Isaiah these are not separate names but rather descriptors of the Messiah There are two hundred and fifty-six names given in the Bible for the Lord Jesus Christ, and I suppose this was because He was infinitely beyond all that any one name could express.

Philippians 2:9-11
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 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.

Incredible names of Christ – This is why we dare not take the name of Jesus Christ and make it a curse word – for something that is that glorious should not be used for something so earthy.

-         Wonderful Counselor

o       Authoritative Teacher

§        See things anew-

o       Comforting friend

-         Mighty God

o       The Image of a warrior The Extent of his kingdom is described in verse 7 – He will reign of David’s throne and over his kingdom – establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.  The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

o       Humble yourself under God’s mighty hand that he might lift you up

o       Mighty to Save - Son of God was able to give us access to the Father

o       1 Peter 5:5-6
All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

-         Everlasting Father

o       Not a reference to God the Father but rather a reference to Christ as author of everything that is everlasting

o       Hebrews 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

o       Life!

-         Prince of Peace

o       Work of Christ is that of restoration – restoring the creational relationships

o       With God- therefore we have peace with God- he deals with our guilt

o       With each other – uniquely not detente but rather real peace –

o       With ourselves – internal peace

o       Us to minister peace to others – Peacemaking Ministries

What a gift- it is the most comprehensive provision we could ever have for it gives us everything we need and meets all of our desires and wants

What does this gift tell you about the giver?  Father who sent the son into the world, Father’s purpose – John 3:16

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

We understand the love of God and the grace of God because of the Son.

The stunning point of Christmas is that God considered my needs and the worth of my relationship to Him to be sufficient cause to go through the trauma of changing places. Joseph M. Stowell

The Mavel & Wonder of Christmas is that is all on God’s Side - 

          We did nothing – we did not earn this gift – God did not send his Son because he owed us….. but he gave us everything.

Michael Card        All we could ever imagine, could ever hope for, He is. ... He is the Prince of Peace whose first coming has already transformed society but whose second coming will forever establish justice and righteousness. All this, and infinitely more, alive in an impoverished baby in a barn. That is what Christmas means--to find in a place where you would least expect to find anything you want, everything you could ever want.

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