Text: Isaiah 9:2-7 12/21/08 a.m.
Thesis: It is better for God to give than to receive.
Intro: This morning I want us to slow down and be reminded that Christmas is a gift.
I want to be overwhelmed and I want you to be so completely overwhelmed by the blessing of Christmas that we all rejoice with increasing joy. I want us to be glad because of Christ.
Only when we focus on Christ will what is covered in contempt be turned into something glorious. Only through Christ will the darkness of sin be replaced with a great light.
It is through Christ that we find increased joy and gladness. His name is Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. He is these things for us; for our eternal salvation and our ever increasing gladness.
Even our anguish and gloom are swallowed up when we turn our eyes upon Jesus.
The gift of God is the gift of Christmas. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.”
Turn with me in your bibles to the book of Isaiah chapter 9 as we unwrap and celebrate the gift of Christmas.
Read Isaiah 9:1-7
I) First, God’s gift comes wrapped in no gloom (verse 1)
a) We must understand that joy is found by looking to and relying on God’s power to accomplish his will.
i) Gloom, depression, and despair come from turning away from God and looking to the things of this earth.
ii) In Isaiah 8 we learn that the people have turned away from God. They are looking to another nation for their rescue. They are not looking to God for strength (8:6).
iii) They are going to mediums and psychics for their direction instead of listening to God’s testimony and his teaching.
iv) To make a long story really short they have abandoned God, suffered for it, and then cursed God and the king for their troubles.
v) They believe their sin and suffering are not their fault. It’s God’s fault and it’s the king’s fault.
vi) So God has hidden his face from them. God has removed his presence and they are thrust into thick darkness.
vii) And then comes the promise of Isaiah 9:1 (read it).
viii) Oh there was gloom; God’s people were in anguish. The people of Israel, the northern kingdom, specifically the land of Zebulun and Naphtali were the first to be captured and hauled away by the Assyrians.
ix) This is terrible. They now belong to another. But a glorious time is coming; it is the glorious time of Christ.
x) Matthew quotes from Isaiah 9:1&2 and says in Matthew 4:14 that these words of Isaiah were fulfilled when Christ left Nazareth and went to live in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali.
xi) Our deepest gloom and grievous affliction can be turned around. The capture of Zebulun, Naphtali, all the Northern Kingdom, and even the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple itself are inconsequential when it comes to living a life of joy.
xii) Now get this; the removal of gloom doesn’t come when Israel is released from Babylonian captivity.
xiii) The removal of gloom doesn’t come with the rebuilding of the temple. The removal of gloom, the exchange of depression for joy comes only through God’s gift of Christmas.
II) Second, God’s gift comes wrapped in great light (read v. 2)
a) We must understand that apart from Christ there is only darkness.
i) The people walked in darkness and dwelt in a land of deep darkness. This is how they were living out their lives; living every day in the darkness of God’s judgment.
ii) Isaiah 8:17 tells us that God was hiding his face from them; their sin had caused separation.
iii) But not just eternal separation. Not just the darkness of hell. Our sin, like their sin, drives a wedge between us and the joy of God’s presence.
iv) I want you to see that the magnitude of the darkness is surpassed by the greatness of the light.
v) The darkness is removed when the light appears. When the light shines the deep darkness flees.
vi) Don’t you long for that; for the darkness of depression and uncertainty to flee? Do we long for the deep darkness of guilt and shame to be pushed out of the lives of our friends and neighbors?
vii) Rejoice this morning. God’s gift of Christmas came wrapped in light; light so magnificent it scatters the darkness.
III) And third, God’s gift comes wrapped in increasing joy (read v. 3).
a) We must understand that the joy that accompanies God’s promise is greater than the darkness that accompanies our sin.
i) Zebulun and Naphtali have been hauled away into slavery; the deep darkness is setting in on God’s people. It’s fullness will come and settle on the land.
ii) The sin and rebellion they have sown have now gone to seed. Their’s is the joyless darkness of God’s judgment.
iii) But do you see in verse 3 that God’s people are rejoicing? God’s people have been captured. They have lost the battle and there will be much more fighting, death, and capture in the future.
iv) Yet verse 3 tells us that God had multiplied the nation and increased its joy. The circumstances are truly bad but the truth of the matter is that in spite of the circumstance God gave joy and the people rejoiced.
v) The light and joy of God’s presence are greater than the darkness of sin and captivity.
vi) The people rejoice before God because rejoicing is what we do in God’s presence.
vii) You rejoice like those who celebrate the bountiful harvest. You have gladness like those who win the war and take home truck loads of spoil.
viii) I feel that here is the lesson I am being taught; my joy must not depend upon my circumstances. My joy must depend on the presence of Jesus in my life.
ix) Though my sin and frustration want to cloud my life with gloom, anguish, and contempt the presence of Christ will flood my life with light.
x) Though loss and captivity want to rule my emotions and darken my vision I have been given the gift of Christmas.
xi) There is a real, tangible, overwhelming reason to rejoice in spite of difficult; the reason to rejoice is Christmas. Christ has come bringing increasing joy.
IV) Here is our fourth layer, God’s gift comes wrapped in freedom from oppression and war ( read verses 4&5)
a) When we walk through the valley of the shadow of death God intends to comfort us with the rod of his strength and faithfulness.
i) Verses 4&5 are meant to remind God’s people of his faithfulness; remember who He is and what he has done
ii) Remember Egypt; the yoke of forced physical labor was broken so the people could go and worship.
iii) The staff laid across the shoulder of those in captivity, the staff of an oppressive government, has been broken.
iv) The rod of senseless undeserved pain dealt out through the hand of ruthless men has been shattered.
v) How? How did it happen then? How will it happen now? It will happen now like it happened in the day of Midian.
vi) We are meant to remember Gideon and his tiny army of men with trumpets and torches.
vii) God said in Judges 7:2, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved.’
viii) Christmas is meant to be a reminder that it is only God can provide. He kept Adam and Eve alive. He kept Noah through the flood. He kept Jacob and his sons through the famine. He kept his people through the slavery and infanticide of Egypt.
ix) God sustained his people in the desert. He fought for them in Canaan. He kills the giants, gives the riches to build the temple. God brings peace.
x) When his people rebelled he protected them and then brought them back from their captivity.
xi) God is the warrior and provider of his people. Burn every boot that has been used in battle; we don’t need it. Every garment bloody from battle is good for nothing but fuel; we don’t need those any more.
xii) God is our redeemer and with his gift comes freedom from slavery and oppression.
xiii) Praise him. We are multiplied, we have been given joy, and our gladness overflows.
xiv) All of these good things of verses 1 through 5 are meant to point us to the best thing of verse 6.
xv) In verse 6 we come to the highlight. The wrapping paper of no gloom, great light, increasing joy, restoration, and freedom has been removed.
xvi) Do we realize that such amazing things are just by-products with God? If you get Jesus you get the rest. If you seek him first all these others will be added to you.
V) God’s gift of Christmas is the gift of His Son (read vs. 6&7)
a) This Child was born for us. This Son was given to us.
i) The good we need is the good that is given to us through the person of Jesus Christ.
ii) God’s will is that every lasting good and every satisfying blessing be experienced only because of Jesus.
iii) Do you see this in the text? Verse one tells us there is no gloom, verse two tells us there is great light for those in darkness, verse three tells us there is great joy and gladness. We are intended to ask why?
iv) Where does this come from? Why the change?
v) Verse 4 begins the answer. Notice the word ‘for’ it means because. You have those blessings because God is the restorer of those who are oppressed.
vi) Then we ask how does God restore? Verse 5 begins the answer. Notice the repeated ‘for’ in that verse.
vii) There is joy because there is restoration because God fights for us; burn your army boots and battle garments.
viii) But how will God fight for us? How will we be restored? How will our joy overflow like it does in times of harvest?
ix) Verse 6, because to us a child is born, to us a son is given. That little baby boy in the manger is our joy.
x) Do you see that the security of all these blessings does not come because of what this son will do? The security is ours simply because of his birth.
xi) God’s purposes cannot be stopped. Jesus has come for us. This son is given to us. What we need for today and all of eternity is secured for us and given to us in Jesus Christ.
b) The government rests on Him
i) In verse four the staff was on the shoulder of God’s people. It was brutal, it was oppressive, and it was for our harm and for the good of others.
ii) But now all rule is upon the shoulders of Jesus. He has broken the power of others and in its place is his benevolent rule.
iii) Jesus has not come with a silver spoon in his mouth. He has come with the government on his shoulders.
iv) He will not live a life of ease. He will live the life we need him to live. He will live for us. He will fight for us. He will love us. He will redeem us. He will keep us.
c) He is called Wonderful Counselor
i) Now these names, these things we call Jesus, are not meant to be simple markers or identifiers.
ii) These are his names because these are what the presence of Jesus brings to our lives.
iii) To the teaching and to the testimony is the call of Isaiah 8 verse 20. Go to true knowledge. Abandon lies. Do away with what is insufficient.
iv) The wonderful counselor is here; listen to him. Jesus said in John 15:7, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
v) His counsel, his wisdom, is supernatural. What we have recorded in Scripture is not the common-sense wisdom of the day.
vi) This is not the home-spun advice of generations gone by. Listen to the Christ. He was given to you. He came for you. Scripture is meant for our good.
vii) We must be a listening people. We must be a bible-reading people. We must be a people who listen and then rest in his strength and rejoice in his promise.
viii) And God intends for us to be this no matter what our circumstances are.
ix) Call him Wonderful Counselor by listening to him and resting in his plans and in his power.
d) Next from verse 6, He is called Mighty God
i) He is the strong God. He alone has the power that is necessary to complete his will and counsel.
ii) Do we sleep at night knowing that he will supply the power to accomplish the plans he has called us to?
iii) Do I preach knowing that he will give the power necessary to bring his word to completion in the life of this church?
iv) There is no biological family that can give this strength. There is no job that can supply this security. There is no investment or amount of money that can make these promises.
v) Only Jesus is Mighty God. Only he can surely deliver what he promises no matter our circumstances.
vi) It pleases God to show him self strong on our behalf. We see his strength when we are weak.
vii) The Apostle Paul’s struggle over his own weakness is recorded for our benefit. The promise of Christ to him is the promise of Christ to us.
viii) Hear Jesus, the Mighty God, speak to you out of his wonderful counsel, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
e) He is called Everlasting Father
i) With Jesus there is wonderful counsel that is good for all of eternity. With Jesus is power that is good for all time. He is the Everlasting Father.
ii) It is foolishness to think that this child that is born, this son that is given, is anyone less than God.
iii) No one human king, no prophet’s son, can bear up under these names. This baby is a human and this baby is God.
iv) He is father; He is creator. He is our eternal sustainer.
v) Come to him today. Take the gift given to you and find was is everlasting. Find counsel, find might, find your Father who is full of love and peace.
f) Find the One called Prince of Peace
i) Through this name for Jesus we are meant to understand that we can find everlasting powerful peace in no one else but Jesus; with him is princely peace.
ii) And we are meant to understand that this Everlasting Father intends to give peace to his people.
iii) Because of his strong shoulders there will be no end to his government; he cannot be overthrown our ousted.
iv) Because of his strong shoulders there will be no end to the peace that he gives to his people.
v) Jesus sits on the throne of David in order to establish and uphold his kingdom.
vi) Christmas is about a child being born so that we can receive him and all his blessings.
vii) With him is justice and righteousness from right now unto forever.
g) BUT GOD’S PEOPLE ARE BEING CAPTURED!
i) Zebulun and Naphtali are brought into contempt. The rest of Israel and Judah are soon to follow.
ii) You know this feeling: my life is falling apart. This is not what I bargained for. I cannot handle this. I am frustrated. I hate this.
iii) The advice of others has made things worse. Jesus is called Wonderful Counselor.
iv) I cannot go on I give up. Jesus is called Mighty God.
v) I am alone and abandoned. Jesus is called Everlasting Father.
vi) I am empty and cannot find rest. Jesus is Prince of Peace.
vii) What will do this for the people of Israel? What will do this for you this morning? Look at the end of verse 7.
viii) The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
ix) God’s passion for his own glory, his own Son, and his own people will accomplish all of this.
x) Today, like every day, like every Christmas, God is calling us to trust him no matter the circumstances.
VI) For us a child is born. For us a son is given.
a) Right now, through Isaiah chapter 9, God is calling on us to trust him. Trust him in spite of circumstances and sin and darkness and shame.
b) Trust him because the reality of Christ and the wisdom of Christ and the power of Christ is far greater.
c) Receive the gift of Christmas. Repent, believe, and be saved.