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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas in Isaiah

Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus.  No, it is not just a fun time of new toys for kids, or too much food, or a party for a jolly man in a red suit.  I say it again--it is the celebration of the birth of Jesus.  Most people know that the story is told in two books of the New Testament, Matthew and Luke.  (If you didn't know that, make a note for the quiz.) 

Now let's back up a few hundred years.  The prophet Isaiah wrote at the time of the conquest of the nation of Judah in 586 BCE.  Maybe Isaiah wrote about 700 BCE and disciples or followers of his continued his work for the next hundred or more years.  Anyway, the Book of Isaiah covers that period of time and even to the return from exile. 

So he could not have had any connection with the birth of Jesus, could he?  Well, no; but Isaiah was a prophet; prophets were preachers that did what preachers do today:  they interpreted the scriptures and called the people to repent of their sins, but they sometimes foretold the future.  People that do that today are often thought of as kooks.  Sometimes the prophets of the Old Testament were too.  Some of them were abused, tortured and killed.

Isaiah foretold the future:  he wrote in chapter 9:6 (KJV):

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.

Is this confusing?  It may be.  It is a prophesy of two events.  The first is the birth of a child, and, in the same sentence, the proclamation that he will be the head of the government.  He will be wonderful, mighty, and everlasting.  The one most people remember is the Prince of Peace.  Jesus offers peace.  The government will rest on his shoulders and he will be the mighty ruler at some future time that only God knows.

We celebrate his birth this month.  It has already happened.  There is not peace in the world and the world does not recognize him as the head of the government, but that doesn't mean that we can't claim this promise.  For anyone who chooses to believe in him, he will provide wonderful counsel; he will be your mighty God; he is your everlasting Father, and he will bring peace to your heart and mind and life.