For Unto Us a Child is Born – Isaiah 9:1-7

“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 Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6, ESV)

Isaiah 9:6 is quite a familiar verse of scripture, especially during the Christmas season. Its proclamation is expected at some point, and its words are recited in Handel’s Messiah. One of the most beautiful experiences of Christmastime is to hear these words echoing throughout churches, shopping malls, busy streets, and in televised concerts. How does this 2,500 year-old passage of scripture relate to us today?

While this prophecy obviously points to the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, we must consider its significance for Isaiah’s time in order that we might better clearly feel its impact. Israel had undergone God’s judgment for unfaithfulness and had been met with enemies from Assyria. Lives were lost, families were torn apart, gloom was everywhere. The children of Israel were walking through the darkness, and the prophet Isaiah was raised by God to pronounce judgment and call them to repentance. However, Isaiah was also given a message of hope to proclaim.

Though Israel walked in the gloomy darkness, God would send a light at the right time. For those who “walked in darkness have seen a great light” and God will “increase [their] joy” (Isaiah 9:2-3). The children of Israel did not earn this light or achieve this joy on their own or by their own righteousness. Verse 7 tells us that the Lord “will do this.” He will do this because of who he is, not because of who they are. He will shine his light on them not because of their attributes because of God’s attributes of love, justice, and righteousness. For the glory of God’s name and based on his promises, he will shine a light in the midst of the darkness.

One recent song says, “Darkness is just a canvass for [God’s] grace and brightness.” That brightness comes in the form of a child. A humble, tiny infant will come to this world and he will be the Messiah, the Savior, the King. He will bring true, lasting peace. He will save his people from their sins.

The prophecy is Isaiah 9 looks not only to the first coming of the Messiah but his second advent as well. He will come as a child and redeem his people but he will also come again, establishing his kingdom which will last forever and ever.

Waiting isn’t easy. In fact, it’s one of the toughest things we have to face. Waiting is especially hard when we’re in the darkness. Israel waited for a long time for the coming of her redeemer. But God’s promises did not fail. At the right time, the light dawned. What can the Christian learn from this? God’s promises never fail, come at the right time, and are always based on his being and fulfilled in his Son!

Isaiah 52:13-53:12 Crushed

All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
He was taken from prison and from judgment,
And who will declare His generation?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
And they made His grave with the wicked —
But with the rich at His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was any deceit in His mouth.

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.

Many people in the world might assume that, like Socrates, Buddha, Confucius and Mohammed, Jesus, died a peaceful death at an old age. But in reality Jesus’ death stands in stark contrast to the death of these other philosophers and religious leaders. Jesus suffered a violent painful death in his mid-thirties at the hands of the state. Crucifixion was a severe punishment instituted by the cruel Roman government in order to instill fear in the people and keep them in order. Yet the cross was ultimately not man’s idea; the cross was God’s free decision made of His own will. The cross is the eternal triune God’s answer that would fully and finally deal with the problem of man’s sin. Strange as it may seem to some, Isaiah 53:10 actually says that the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief (NASB). Because of God’s love for His people, the Father planned the cross from the beginning, and Christ, the Son, offered Himself to God willingly (Jn 10:18, Heb 9:14) so that His people might be saved. The Lord laid on Him, the iniquity of all of us sheep who have gone astray (Is 53:6). Christ, who knew no sin became sin, and a curse for us, paying the penalty and bearing the righteous indignation of God against sin, on our behalf (2 Cor 5:21, Gal 3:13). This doctrine is called the substitutionary atonement or penal substitution. Many throughout the ages have sought to deny and reject the doctrine of penal substitution as incongruous with a God of love; some have gone as far as to call it “divine child abuse;” but it is the cross that demonstrates the degree to which God’s love extends, as in united purpose, both the Father and the Son, act in concert to save God’s people.

Isaiah chapter 53 is the crown jewel of Isaiah’s theology; what has become known as the song of the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 more clearly describes the nature of the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ, than practically any other passage of Scripture. But why was such a violent, bloody death required? Why was it necessary that Jesus be forsaken and even crushed by the Father? And how can all of this be considered “good,” as the Friday on which all of this transpired is often called “Good Friday?”

There are many reasons we can offer as to why Good Friday is indeed “good.” Many answers lie in Isaiah 53:10-12; read those verses and consider as many reasons as you can as to why the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross was indeed good. The bottom line is that God was satisfied based upon what He had accomplished. We no longer need to labor hoping that we might be able to satisfy God – He is not waiting to be satisfied by anything you do – He is satisfied in what He did! Likewise, may you find your satisfaction alone in what Christ has done – abandon your search for satisfaction and happiness in sweet little circumstances, carrying their sweet little lies; satisfaction is found in Christ alone – pray that God will help you to be satisfied in Christ.

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