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Advent: Prince of Peace
Through January 6, I’ll be posting devotionals with an Advent and Epiphany theme to focus our minds on the nativity of Jesus Christ. Merry Christmas!
“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Isaiah 9:6 NLT
There is no one single verse of prophecy in the Bible that speaks more clearly of the birth of Jesus Christ than Isaiah 9:6. This verse was cited in the libretto for Handel’s Messiah, written by Charles Jennens based on the Book of Isaiah in the King James Version of the Bible and the Coverdale Psalter (the first complete modern English translation of the Bible). A massed chorus sings the verse in Part I, 12th movement of the Messiah, and it is one of the more moving and emotional sections of the work… except for the Hallelujah Chorus, of course!
The child, the Son of God, was given to us in human form by the Creator. After His birth, He was and is eternally human, although now in a resurrection body that all followers of Christ will have someday.
While I was researching today’s lesson, I found a beautiful description by a California pastor named Gayle Erwin. His words on “the government” described in Isaiah 9:6 are very insightful, showing that the Kingdom of Heaven is very much in charge today, even as fools rule individual nations:
What might such a government look like? First of all, it would look like its king. Politicians of this day look for what they can get from you. Jesus looks for what He can do for you.
Leaders of this day surround themselves with servants. Jesus surrounds us with His servanthood.
Leaders of this day use their power to build their empire. Jesus uses his power to wash our feet and make us clean and comfortable.
Leaders of this day trade their influence for money. God so loved that he gave…
Generals of this day need regular wars to keep their weapons and skills up to date and insure their own advancement. Jesus brings peace and rest to hearts.
The higher the plane of importance one reaches in this world, the more inaccessible he becomes. Jesus was Emanuel, “God with us.”
Leaders of this day are desperate to be seen and heard. Jesus sought anonymity so He could be useful.
Obviously, Jesus is not in charge of the halls of Washington, London, Moscow, Baghdad, Paris or Bonn. So, how can we ever believe the “government will be upon His shoulders”?
Actually, His government shows its workings in wonderful ways. Whenever I see someone who miraculously leaves a life of drugs or alcohol and is restored to his family and work, I can see that he is now governed by God.
Whenever I see loving Christians gently caring for orphans and those rejected by family, I know I am watching people governed by God.
Whenever I see people eagerly learning the Bible and joyously praising, I know who the governor is.
Whenever I see people give up lucrative careers simply to go and share the Good News of Jesus, I know they are governed by God.
When I see pastors carefully teach and lead the flock God has given them, I know they are getting signals from the great King.
When I see people leave family to live and teach in distant lands because they love the people who have not heard, I know they are governed by God.
Isaiah next provides us with the names of the Messiah. In the days of the prophets, a name didn’t just identify a person; it often expressed the very nature of a person’s being. So Jesus is described by the aspects of his character:
Wonderful Counselor: The glory of Jesus fills us with wonder and amazement, and as a counselor, He will help us with our problems — even if through the earthly guise of another Christian.
Mighty God: Jesus is also the Creator of all! We cannot forget his divine nature, even though he was born a human.
Everlasting Father: These words could imply that Jesus is the Father, but that’s not the case. To quote David Guzik, “The idea in these Hebrew words is that Jesus is the source or author of all eternity, that He is the Creator Himself. It does not mean that Jesus Himself is the Person of the Father in the Trinity.”
Prince of Peace: Jesus is the One who makes peace, especially between God and man. John Calvin noted that “When we are inwardly tossed by various tempests, and when Satan attempts to disturb our consciences, let us remember that Christ is The Prince of Peace, and that it is easy for him quickly to allay all our uneasy feelings. Thus will these titles confirm us more and more in the faith of Christ, and fortify us against Satan and against hell itself.”
Heaven On Wheels Daily Prayer:
Our Father in Heaven, may Your Kingdom come and Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. You are the Wonderful Counselor who will rule us in fairness and justice so that righteousness is vindicated and evil overcome. As our Mighty God, use all the power of Heaven’s Armies to establish Your Kingdom among us in these times of distress. Everlasting Father, show us Your plan and purpose for us in Your Kingdom in your way and at the time of Your choosing. Rule us with eternal peace so we may be content and complete. In Jesus’ holy name we pray, AMEN.
Erwin, Gayle "The Government" Servant Quarters, January-February 1999 Newsletter, from www.servant.org
Calvin, John "Isaiah: Calvin's Commentaries" Volume 7 (Isaiah 1-32) (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979)