Unto us a child is born
These exhortations were given by me between 1999 and 2005. That was a long time ago, and I have grown a lot since then. They may not reflect my current beliefs.
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 honour 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 Counsellor, 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.
Those words, from Isaiah chapter 9 are used throughout the world at this time of year. They form the basis for parts of Handel’s Messiah. As well as looking back (from our perspective) to the birth of Christ they look forward to his wonderful reign on earth after his return. This morning, I want to look at a couple of the promises in this passage.
Please turn to Isaiah Chapter 9.
Verse 1: “Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress.”
Suppose you had to sum up the human aspects of the Kingdom in one sentence. It would be something pretty close to that sentence. Many secular endeavours hold the idea of “no more gloom” in very high regard. Its expressed in the American Declaration of Independence as the “unalienable Rights, Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” If somebody offered you, not only the pursuit of happiness, but the guarantee of it you would accept their offer, wouldn’t you. “Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress.” I could almost end the exhortation here couldn’t I? That is everything we are aiming for in our walk towards the Kingdom.
There is a similar verse in Revelation chapter 21.
Revelation chapter 21 verses 3 and 4: “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” “
“There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain”. The promise of Christ’s birth, and the promise of his return, are both really parts of a bigger promise, something that can be best expressed to us as “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” and “Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress”.
We can’t fully understand what it means for the glory of the Lord to cover the earth as the waters now cover the sea. We can all understand what it would mean for there to be no more pain, crying, mourning or death.
We all have gaps in our lives, left by the death of loved ones. We know what death and mourning and crying and pain are, and we can imagine what it would be like to be without those things. Isaiah 9 and Revelation 21 promise us that one day those things will be no more. The promise is “there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress”. I don’t know how that gloom will be removed. Obviously we will be reunited with loved ones. Our bodies will no longer be frail, and we will be spiritually strong, no longer prone to slip as we so often do. Possibly we will be able to look back at distressing events and from the position of new spiritual strength we will see how those things were working together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Lets look at another verse in Isaiah 9, verse 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 Counsellor, 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 government will be upon his shoulders. All levels of government, from world politicians to office managers, are currently carried out my fallible men and women. Sometimes they are strong, and good. Other times they are not. In the Kingdom era the ultimate head of Government will be Christ himself.
Christ will be the “Wonderful Counsellor”. The AV incorrectly puts a comma between those two words, making him a wonderful individual, and a counsellor. More modern translations leave out the comma, combining the two. Christ is not just any old counsellor, dispensing worldly wisdom and personal opinion, he is a wonderful counsellor, leading and advising with truth and godly knowledge.
Christ will be the prince of peace. We can begin to understand what that means. We all lock our doors at night to prevent unwanted individuals entering our homes. I’m sure we’ve all seen white tapes and army bomb disposal squads. Throughout the world there are groups fighting one another, for one reason or another. Terrible atrocities committed sometimes for no reason at all. The Kingdom isn’t going to be like that. It will take the full thousand years for everything to be put under his feet, but he will not conquer for the sake of conquering, or destroy for the sake of destroying.
“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.”
At this time of year, the western world is perhaps at its most religious. People are looking back at the birth of Christ. The birth of Christ is intimately tied up with the future as well, with the ultimate promise of the restoration of Earth to its Eden-like state. Our meeting here together in memory of Christ’s sacrifice is also in memory of his birth, and it is looking forward to his return, and his Kingdom.
We will conclude this morning with a reading from Mark 14, verses 22 to 25:
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it.” This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. “I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.”