Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Prophecies of Christmas - Throne of David


Isaiah 9:1-7 “But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles.
The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them. You shall multiply the nation, You shall increase their gladness; they will be glad in Your presence as with the gladness of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For You shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, as at the battle of Midian. For every boot of the booted warrior in the battle tumult, and cloak rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire.
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore the zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.

Luke 1:31-33 “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end."

There is a song by Wes King called Life Is Precious. A line in there stands out for me: “I can’t imagine not being able to see.” I knew a man legally blind that God used in wonderful ways even though his life was spent in darkness and blur. What a precious thing being able to see is. There are blind people all around us, and indeed, once we were blind but now we see.

Verse 2 “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.” This verse talks about mystery being unveiled; about coming to understand something which was previously hidden. What is the true nature of salvation? What is God really doing in our midst? For the Jews in 700 BC the answer was coming. Everything will be made plain. The Messiah will bring about the culmination of their hopes and plans. He will fulfill their prophecies that God has been speaking to them. He would usher in a new age… It just wasn’t what they were expecting. They thought He was going to be a King, and free them from the oppression they were in. They thought that all the promises and blessings were about stuff, about this flesh and blood. How short sighted is that? It is so obvious to us today about what God was doing down through history. But what do we think today is about? Do we still think God’s blessing is about stuff? Even today we need the Light of the World to illuminate our understanding. We need Jesus just as much today as the nation Israel did 2700 years ago.

Verses 3-5 “You shall multiply the nation, You shall increase their gladness; they will be glad in Your presence as with the gladness of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For You shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, as at the battle of Midian. For every boot of the booted warrior in the battle tumult, and cloak rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire.”
And today I still don’t have all the answers. I know enough to know that God is beyond me. I cannot hope to fully understand His thoughts and ways, even though He has revealed so much of Himself to me, to us. I don’t understand free will, and how it relates to people. There are people who use their choices to control, hurt and even kill others. Others who have no chance. What have I to offer the one who has grown up with an abusive and alcoholic parent? What chance in life do those orphaned by AIDS in Africa where an older brother of 8 years of age has to look after his brothers and sisters because both parents are gone? How do I offer hope to those who are suffering untold horror at the hands of others? The best I can do is talk of the grace of God who went through much of what we have gone through, to the point of dying on a cross. He knows our lives and He can relate; and some day we will be in a place when all the answers will be made clear. While it may not happen in this life, we know there is a day coming when we shall see Jesus face to face, and all will be known. In that day there will no more tears and pain. No more will people take advantage of one another because we will be in God’s presence and we will be all we can be in Jesus. Satan, sin, and death will never again be known. And the light of the glory of God will shine upon us forever. Stand firm in your faith today, and you answer will come in the end.

Verse 6 “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” And we know the story of Jesus. We know He was born to be a King like no other. But what of those names in Isaiah?

Wonderful Counsellor: Ever go to someone for help? Ever been disappointed by someone who thought could help you? My brother Dan was in Thailand at some meetings. His left knee swelled up and was quite painful, so he went to a doctor and they said you have gout. They gave him no help other than a diagnosis and that gout is from eating shellfish and too much red meat. He doesn’t like shell fish and all he had was a Big Mac. So he goes back to Cameroon, where there are no McDonalds, and goes to a doctor there. That doctor says, “You have gout.” Well, he was still in pain, so he goes to a third doctor, and they say, “You have gout. Oh, and all you have to do is take this medication.” Well, after a day and a half on the medication he is finally pain-free. The first 2 professionals gave him no real help, and just told him what he could have found out for himself on the internet. Isn’t it nice when you find someone who can help?
Jesus is our Wonderful Counsellor. Wonderful regularly means supernatural, so we understand the Messiah as a supernatural counsellor. But even if wonderful just meant wonderful, think of the extreme wonderfulness of what He did. At His first coming, Jesus brought words of eternal life. He not only showed us the way to live, He made it possible! In Christ we are free from being slaves to sin. How wonderful is that? A lot better than settling a painful knee problem - although it is wonderful to have our physical needs helped too. When Jesus comes again, He will rule with perfect wisdom and grace. He will gather us all to be with Him. It just doesn’t get better than that.

Mighty God: We are shopping one day and we see this package in the grocery store. It was two bumpy rubber balls and the packaging claimed it will keep your laundry fresh and static free. Just throw them in the dryer and you are good to go. I found they work better if you throw a fabric softener sheet in with them. So instead of just a fabric softener sheet, we have a fabric softener sheet and 2 bumpy rubber balls in the dryer. Have you ever had something that didn’t live up to its claim? The Messiah is our Mighty God - that’s a pretty big item on a resume!
This is a term applied to Yahweh and scholars suggest refers to the Messiah’s ultimate triumph over evil. That happened at Jesus’ resurrection. 1 Corinthians 15 tells us that Jesus conquered Satan, sin and death! You want someone on your side? Look to Jesus who is the Mighty God, and sits at the right hand of the Father.  Revelation reveals that He will accomplish what He wills, and that the “good guys” win. Even today He can heal physically and emotionally and socially and mentally. He is a Mighty God, and He loves you and I.

Eternal Father: There are many bad fathers out there. There are fathers who have abused their spouse and kids. There are fathers who have abandoned their families. There are fathers who have wrecked lives all around them because of addictions and weaknesses. If you are one of those children who had a father like that, seek Jesus. He will always be there. He will always provide. Understand Him in the big picture. You may have had a lousy life, but God was there with you in that lousiness. In the grief He was there. In the celebration He was there. Sometimes He performs the miraculous; sometimes He lets the fallen nature of this world run its course. In the light of eternity, God is doing a wonderful work in you. 2 Corinthians 4 says “16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison”. God is in the business of refining your spiritual nature. You may think He owes you good stuff, but He doesn’t owe you anything. He died while you were selfish and doing your own thing. He died while you ignored Him and His creation so you could pursue your own selfish stuff. He died, so that if you turn to Him, He will grant you life eternal and life anew in the spirit. He is your Eternal Father. He really does have your back.

Prince of Peace:  Bonnie has a character in her new book that sits above a river on the bank, listening to the wind and watching the trees swaying; and he really is beside himself. As he reflects on the nature around him he is transported to a place peace, in spite of the circumstances he finds himself in. He knows that God is Sovereign. At the heart of that Sovereign God is love for His creation, and He longs to give you that peace that passes all understanding. He calls us to rest in Him. I don’t know your troubles, but I do know it is not God that has caused it. Man, in his sin, has really messed things up. The angels told the shepherds, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth Peace among men…”

There is a day coming when Jesus will return in all His glory. He will not be coming as a baby, but as a King. He will not come to just dwell, but to rule. He will right all the wrongs, and straighten all the crooked. The Bible says to look up, for the day draws nigh. Reflect this season on the Messiah who is coming again. Celebrate His incarnation, but be encouraged, for He will come again to live with Him in a place He has been preparing for over 2,000 years.

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