Christmas Eve Sermon 2016 Isaiah 9:1-7
The Triumph of God’s Glory and Grace, in the Giving of His Son
Pastor Louis Prontnicki Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church
There’s a lot of terrorism going on throughout the globe, even as we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace. Wha is our land were swept up in such terrorism? Imagine that a fierce and cruel army, like ISIS or Boko Haram soldiers, has swept across Eastern Pennsylvania, plundering, raping, killing, and destroying everything in their way. There is no electricity, no heat, no services, and no hope. Those who have survived are living as slaves to these foreign oppressors, and are without any hope of rescue or relief. You are constantly hungry and distressed, and every day is full of gloom and doom. You want to die.
But on Sundays a few of you try to meet secretly for worship in a basement. One Sunday a visitor comes and asks if he can speak a few words of encouragement and hope. He stands up and here’s what he says:
“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 honor 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.”
You hear these words and they seem too good to be true! Will the Lord Almighty really come and bring light to us who live in darkness? Will God truly give us joy, like at harvest time? Can He shatter the oppressive burden of our enemies, and give us peace and wholeness?
You wonder, “Who will the Lord send to accomplish such a glorious victory for us? Who is capable of such an incredible deliverance?”
The visitor raised his hands for silence, and goes on:
Here is how the Lord will do it. He will accomplish this triumph through a baby to be born!
“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. Of the greatness 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.”
And you look at one another in awe and wonder. Who is this child, this son, given by God, who will take the government single-handedly upon His shoulders? Who is this one who will reign on David’s throne and establish peace and blessing for us? How can we be assured of such an amazing triumph over our foes?
And the visitor gives a one-line answer: “The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”
My friends, that’s what happened among the discouraged tribes of northern Israel after the cruel army of the Assyrians had devastated their land and their people, in the 8th century BC. God gave his prophet Isaiah a message of hope and grace and triumph, and told them that those who had been most shattered and most oppressed were one day to see the greatest reversal and triumph in their own land.
For indeed, one day, God would send His own Son, born of a virgin, to become the greater David, to bring deliverance to those who languished under Satan’s tyranny, and to restore His people with blessing and hope and joy! And the guarantee of all this Good News was that the zeal of the Lord Almighty would accomplish this. All of the redemption and rescue and victory would be on the Lord’s part, not ours!
My friends, what Isaiah prophesied 700 before Christ’s birth is the glorious and triumphant message of Christmas:
Nations that were trampled on will be honored and made glorious!
People who lived in deep darkness and in the very shadow of death would see a great light!
Those who were hurting and needy would rejoice at God’s abundance!
Indeed, it would be like the time when God broke the power of the Egyptians and set His people free from bondage there. It would be like when God used the seeming foolishness of Gideon’s 300 men to rout the Midian army of 32,000 soldiers, who had oppressed Israel for decades.
And incredibly, God would send a baby to bring all this about! This child would be born to a human mother, and this child would be God’s divine gift to us. His name would be Jesus, for He would save His people from their sins. But there’s more!
This child would be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace.” What would these titles mean?
Wonderful Counselor – He would be a supernatural counselor; all wisdom would dwell in Him; and therefore He would be the One to go to with all our concerns, and all our problems. “Come onto me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Mighty God – He is the Divine Warrior, the one who liberates us from our foes, especially Satan and his tyranny. He is our Shield and our Defender!
Everlasting Father– He is father-like in His tender care for us. The helpless and hurting find their rest and protection in Him!
Prince of Peace – He is the source of all true peace, the shalom wholeness that only God can give us. As Augustine said, “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until we find our rest in you.”
This evening, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ in our songs, I want you to look upon the coming of the Messiah as the listeners of Isaiah’s day would have received his message … with awe and wonder, and with hope and courage.
Look to Jesus. As the Wonderful Counselor, He has the best ideas… so let’s follow Him.
As the Mighty God, He triumphs over our enemies… so let’s hide in Him.
As the Everlasting Father, He loves us tenderly and eternally, so let’s enjoy Him.
And as the Prince of Peace, He reconciles us to God, so let’s bow before Him.
In the giving of His Son, we indeed see and experience the triumph of God’s grace and glory.