Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The Promise of His Coming (7)

John Lennon sang the song 'Happy Christmas (War is Over)', and that would be a fitting summary of our next promise of the birth of Jesus as we find it in Isaiah 9. As we saw yesterday, the kingdom of Judah was suffering threats and violence from their neighbouring kingdoms of Israel and Syria. War was on the horizon, and it was as if the people were in darkness.

Into the darkness comes the promise of the birth of a child, a son of David, who will bring light, joy, peace, and justice.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined. (Isaiah 9:2)

No more gloom or despair, as the light of God transforms the situation. But there's more:

You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil. (Isaiah 9:3)

Rather than a declining population as people fall in war, instead there is restoration, renewal, growth, and this leads to joy. More joy than there is when God's faithfulness is proved at harvest time, when there's food to spare and a party atmosphere. Light, joy, but there's still more:

For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:4-6)

The reason for the light and the joy is because their oppressors, their enemies have been defeated and destroyed. No more war, only peace. Peace brought about through the birth of this baby, with these great names. Sometimes today people call their children all sorts of strange things, which normally demonstrates more about the parents than the child, but nothing compared to these great names: Wonderful Counsellor; Mighty God; Everlasting Father; Prince of Peace. And yet, there's even still more:

Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. (Isaiah 9:7)

The coming baby is found to be in the line of David, sitting on the throne of David - that everlasting kingdom based on God's earlier promise. The king will judge justly and will rule in righteousness - perfectly true, and in accordance with God's will and ways.

Light, joy, peace and justice. Things that our world still cries out for; things that will be fully and finally unveiled when the King returns, but which are already glimpsed through the earthly ministry of the baby of Bethlehem, the one who is coming.

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