9 December 2012
Point of Emphasis: Christ is the only way for peace
6 For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
This second Sunday of advent we will be looking at the concept of peace especially from the prophet Isaiah's words in chapter nine verses six and seven. For our purpose I will define peace as "freedom from conflict".
Throughout the OT prophesies of Messiah we have the promise and expectation that Messiah would be a source of peace. When the Eastern Magi or "wise men" came to Jerusalem (Jeru-Salem means teaching peace), they asked where this Hebrew King was to be born; Herod consulted with the priests and rabbi's and they told him Bethlehem quoting Micah 5:2 "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me, The One to be Ruler in Israel". That passage ends with verse 5 that says "And this One shall be peace".
Likewise in Luke 2 when the angel appears to the shepherds and is joined by the "heavenly host" they sing "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!", or as some translations say it "peace, toward men of goodwill". <Read Isaiah 9:6-7>
Sin is the Source of All Turmoil
One of the great things about the gospel message, and especially the Christmas message, is that it is something that God foretold hundreds of years before Christ ever came to earth. As you read through the Old Testament prophets you come across these passages that clearly articulate the story of Jesus and the salvation that he brings. At Easter we often read Isaiah 53 and 54 which speaks of the manner of Christ's death, but at Christmas we often look at Isaiah 9 since it is the text that speaks of the coming of a child. It truly is exciting to see the manifest work of God in the world when we understand his great plan to save us through Jesus.
However, another aspect that one comes across in reading the Old Testament is the reality that we are sinners. We have transgressed the law and God's judgment is coming upon all who are in conflict with Him. Isaiah chapter eight verse 22 says, "And they will look to the earth, but behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish. And they will be thrust into darkness". This verse, and many like it, are evidences of the judgment of God that has been, is, and will be poured out on all the nations and the earth for the iniquity that exists in them. Ultimately this is sin.
The source of sin, as we are quite aware, goes back to Adam and Eve. These two were walking in a pure relationship with God in the Garden of Eden, but chose to disobey God and allowed sin to enter the world. This sin then permeated every element of their lives. No more could they eat of any fruit, especially the fruit of eternal life. No more could they find food without toil and sweat. No more could they innocently look at each other, but God created them clothing. As soon as they had children (in whom they thought there salvation might come) they saw sin grow and one murders the other and they lose them both. As we read through Genesis we see sin increase until God judges humanity with the flood, even the righteous Noah is found wanting after the flood. God provides a sacrificial system, but it ultimately cannot provide the solution to the problem of sin. On and on the story goes how sin has corrupted everything. This sin allows for wars and for turmoil with individuals and within them. It is the absence of peace.
Christ is the Source of Peace on Earth
What we know of the gospel message is that Christ is the one who conquers sin for those who believe in him. This is the reason for his coming. Our text this morning highlights that in particular. The gloom that was promised in chapter 8 is now thwarted in chapter 9, "There will be no gloom." The reason for this is the working pleasure of God in the nation of Israel, and beyond. This really is the story of redemption and it is first highlighted by the geographical region of Galilee. "In the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations" (9:1). Previously this land was held in contempt, but because it will be the home of Jesus there is redemption in it. Just by the presence of Christ in this land glory is brought to it. This is also true of the nation of Israel. In verse 2 we see, "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;" The redemption to the nation of Israel is coming it is something in which they can hope. The darkness that was the judgment because of sin is giving way to light because of the one who can actually bring light. Because of this redeeming action through Jesus, the nation can have joy. "You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy;" (9:3).
The redemption of God is coming with glory and with joy, but it is only coming as such because it comes through a child. Verse 6 states, "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given;" This verse may remind you of Handel's Messiah (from which the "Hallelujah Chorus" comes) in the piece on this verse. It is a musical arrangement that depicts the joy that is in this verse: a child is coming, a son is given. But this is not just any child or son, it is a special one. The remainder of our text speaks of what this child will do for the world.
This child will be one in whom the government of the world will be placed. this means that all the corruption of the world that seems to keep peace from happening will rest upon Jesus who is now in a position, because the world's government rests upon him, to make way for peace. In fact this is what he is called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. These titles are not mere descriptors and pleasantries to attribute to Jesus. These titles describe his action for the world and for those who are saved in him.
We could spend weeks just breaking down what these titles reveal, but quickly let me note that they point to the way in which he intercedes for us as God. As a counselor he is the one, through his Spirit, helping us live the life we have. As God he is the one able to reign over us and make a claim upon our lives, as a Father he cares for us. As Prince of Peace he is the one, the only one, who is able to provide peace in this world.
As the only one able to provide peace, we should not expect peace in Jesus when we are moving away from Him. As I drive toward Austin I lose my DFW radio stations just before Waco. We cannot expect to have peace in our life if we are not willing to be where Jesus is. The glories of this verse and the joys of living in the light he provides, which pushes out the darkness of gloom (cp. John 1:5), are out of reach when we are away from their source in Jesus Christ.
For Christians drifting away from Jesus will increase the sense of conflict in our lives. For the lost, turning to Jesus will give them a peace they have never known as they are reconciled to God.
Christ is the Source of Eternal Peace
Finally, in this passage we see that the coming Jesus, even in the giving of a child, provides not just worldly peace, but eternal peace. In verse seven it states, "Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end . . . From that time forward, even forever" (9:7). I like how the NLT has part of this verse His government and its peace will never end. This is what Jesus has provided for his people: a peace that is everlasting.
I think this verse is paraphrased by Gabriel when he appears to Mary in Luke 1:31-33 "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end."
This peace is the peace that we ultimately will have one day when we see him face to face. Revelation 21:4 speaks of this type of peace, "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." This is the peace that the baby Jesus Christ has brought to us. This is the ultimate peace that he brings. When the text states that the increase of his government has no end it is speaking of the time when he will reign for all eternity. This is what Revelation 22:5 speak of, "And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever." The light that came into the world to push out the darkness is the same light that will light us for all eternity. This is a light that is capable of providing great things: redemption, salvation, deliverance from sin, but it is also a light that exists to perpetually provide peace.