For publication in "The Christian Standard"

December 1995


Isaiah 9:2-7 - 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.


This passage from Isaiah is one of the most majestic and awe- inspiring prophecies of the Messiah that may be found. In these simple words there is an overwhelming sense of celebration in the knowledge that God's promise of a deliverer stood firm; that it would be not only the Jew whom He would deliver but even "the people that walked in darkness would see a great light." With excitement that is unrestrained Isaiah joyfully recounts the titles that the Messiah would bear as He reclaimed His own from their bondage and established His kingdom; a kingdom which would last forever upon the throne of David.


We live in a special time in history. From our vantage point we are able to look back at the birth of Christ (imagine, the Son of God actually walking on this earth with us and getting His feet dusty upon our roads!) and see the wonder of His birth in its true context. Many who lived in the ages before Christ, as Luke writes in his gospel, longed to see the events that the disciples saw and that we may so regularly read about in the Bible:


Luke 10:21, 23-24 - At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure....All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, "Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it."


We celebrate Christmas with great joy and thankfulness, knowing that because of Christ's birth His death is imminent. Throughout the prophecies of the Messiah there is beneath the joy of His coming the undercurrent of His sacrifice. Put quite simply, Jesus came to die; His birth has no meaning if His death is removed. The words of a song sung by the teens at Ivanhoe last May convey this concept beautifully:


                You came from heaven to earth to show the way;

                From the earth to the cross my debt to pay;

                From the cross to the grave, from the grave to the sky;

                LORD I lift your name on high!


Easter is possible because Christmas happened; the promise of our salvation is fulfilled because the Son of God took our life upon Himself, died in our death upon the cross, and rose again triumphantly from the grave to give us, His fallen creatures, victory over the curse of sin and death. His birth, ministry, death and resurrection are all glorious parts of a magnificent whole.


This is the wonder of Christmas: that God chose to send our deliverer to earth in the form of a baby. The offspring who would crush the serpent's head, so long ago promised to Eve, is promised again in Isaiah as He who would be the light of the world, but He is given to us as a child! Against all the forces of evil arrayed against Him the Christ arrives among us as a newborn baby, and yet He is a King. He would grow and live His life as we do, with the same cares and concerns but overcoming all trials and defeating all attempts by the prince of darkness to pervert Him, to become our perfect sacrifice and ultimately our King in glory, so that you and I, as we celebrate our own Christmas, may look forward to the promised inheritance that awaits us in glory...all because of the birth of a Child.