“THE JOURNEY FORETOLD” Isa. 9
INTRO – When you think of Christmas, a lot of things come to mind:
- Secular things: Santa Claus, candy canes, Christmas trees, Will Ferrell eating spaghetti covered w/ pancake syrup & Pop Tarts, Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas,” & Elvis singing “Blue Christmas”
- Spiritual things: Baby Jesus, angels, shepherds, “Silent Night,” & “Away In a Manger”
But there’s something else about Christmas that I want us to focus on for the next 4 weeks. One word, & that word is “journey.” Christmas is all about a journey.
- For me, as a kid, it was the journey from Mammaw’s house in Collinsville, MS, to Pappaw & Granny’s house at Foxtrap on Christmas Eve night.
- But the journey is so much more than that:
- It’s a journey that was foretold by the prophet Isaiah.
- It was a journey of faith for Mary & Joseph after Gabriel told them God’s plan for them.
- It was an actual physical, arduous journey form Nazareth to Bethlehem to a stable & manger that awaited the King’s birth.
- It was a journey from heaven to earth for the angels to announce His arrival & to fill the sky w/ worship!
- And it’s a lifelong journey for all of us as we trust Him to save us & follow Him in obedience for our entire lives.
So, let’s talk about the JOURNEY FORETOLD.
How many of you enjoy going to movies? – Love the previews, the coming attractions – whisper, “I’ve gotta see that one!” “Not seeing that one!”
Isa. 9 is a description of the greatest, most earth-shattering coming attraction that has ever happened in history – the coming of Jesus into the world!
Writing about 700 years before Jesus was born, the OT prophet, Isaiah, foretells of the coming of the Messiah into the world. One commentator said this about Isaiah’s prophecy: “Of measureless importance to the universe, to this world, to every individual of the human family is the prophecy to which we have now come. On the fulfillment of this prophecy all Christianity rests, as a building on its foundation.” (https://www.raystedman.org/old-testament/isaiah/o-come-immanuel)
Light came into their darkness – v. 2
What an incredible promise Isaiah is giving to the people of God! They were living in a time of great turmoil & trouble. Wars were raging, people were living in fear; corrupt political & military deals were made; Jerusalem was surrounded & besieged; people were suffering & dying; idolatry was rampant – it was a horrifically dark time in the lives of the people of God. One blogger wrote this: “On the day Christ came into our hostile world, the kingdom of God was breaking into reality through human form, a promise proven in Jesus that his people would be governed and enlightened by him from their darkness.” (http://unlockingthebible.org/2016/12/christ-came-hostile-world/)
What an incredible promise God has given to us as His people today! We, too, are living in times of great turmoil & strife. Sin is running rampant all throughout our land, both inside the church & outside the church. Charles Spurgeon: “I believe that one reason why the church of God at this present time has so little influence over the world is b/c the world is having so much influence over the Church.” These are dark days as we see the commands of God, the principles of God, & the Word of God getting trampled on over & over again.
And yet, in spite of the heaviness of the darkness of our day, the Light of the World has come! We sing the chorus “Here I Am to Worship” that starts w/ the words, “Light of the world, you stepped down into darkness, Opened my eyes, let me see.” That’s what Jesus does when He touches our lives & when He speaks to us. He lets us see.
- He lets us see the depth of our own depravity.
- He lets us see the reality of our helplessness & hopelessness.
- He lets us see the futility of our attempts to save ourselves & make things right in our own lives.
- He lets us see that HE ALONE can save us & lead us out of the darkness of sin.
Hope came into their despair – Jesus as the Light lets us see what we need to see. Jesus as our “Wonderful Counselor” helps us to know what we need to know. Jesus as our “Mighty God” helps us to do what we need to do. Knowing what we need to do know, & being able to do what we need to do gives us the hope we need to bring us out of the despair of our sins. These wonderful names of Jesus give us great hope!
“Wonderful Counselor” – the word “wonderful” means “extraordinary, astonishing.” The word “counselor” means “advisor” or “ideal ruler.” This name of Jesus makes is clear to us that, if we truly want to know the right direction go to in life, we must go to Jesus & seek His instructions & directions. And how do we do that? Get in the Word of God & stay in the Word of God. Any other direction we go other than the direction that Jesus gives to us will lead to a dead end. He’s the Perfect Teacher, the Perfect Adviser, the Perfect Guide. There is such great hope in having Him as our Wonderful Counselor!
“Mighty God” – Do you hear the power in that name? The little vulnerable baby that was born that night in Bethlehem possessed all the power in the universe b/c He was & is God! The Nicene Creed, written in 325 A.D., makes this statement:
“We believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made…”
I love what A.W. Tozer wrote about this: “We live in a society where we cannot always be sure that traditional definitions still hold. But I stand where I always have stood. And the genuine believer, no matter where he may be found in the world, humbly but surely is convinced about the person and position of Jesus Christ. Such a believer lives with calm and confident assurance that Jesus Christ is truly God and that He is everything the inspired writer said He is.” (https://www.cmalliance.org/devotions/tozer?id=1064)
This one called Jesus, this baby that was born in Bethlehem, brings us hope as THE Light – not A light – that shines in the darkness; THE Wonderful Counselor – not A wonderful counselor; THE Mighty God – not A mighty god. He has all the wisdom, all the strength, all the power, all the might, all the authority & ability to save anyone who will come to Him in faith, all the grace & mercy to show to anyone who has fallen into sin, all the willingness to forgive & restore those who have strayed away from Him. He gives us HOPE that draws us up out of the pit of our despair!
Life came into their doom – Isaiah the prophet foretold that Jesus was the Light that came into our darkness, the Hope that came into our despair, & finally, the Life that came into our doom.
That word “doom” is a strong word, a depressing word. Think about it: If you were in an airplane, flying across the country, & suddenly the engine quits, when the pilot says, “We’re doomed,” he’s essentially saying that there’s no chance of survival, no possibility of coming out of this situation alive, the end is imminent.
LISTEN! Those who do not have a relationship w/ Jesus Christ right now are living in that DOOMED condition. They are doomed. They are headed toward a fatal crash w/ no possibility of survival. Doesn’t matter how smart they are, how rich they are, how influential they are, or how powerful they are. Apart from Christ, they are doomed. Is that YOUR condition here today?
Into this condition of doom steps the One who is the Everlasting Father & the Prince of Peace! He is literally “the Father of eternity.” He will be your FOREVER FATHER, who alone can give you the gift of eternal life. He owns eternity! And He wants to give you eternal life! He’s a good, good Father, who loves you & wants to have an everlasting relationship w/ YOU. He alone can reach into our doomed condition & bring life to us. And when He does that & when we accept that gift of eternal life, the doom is gone!
- Instead of there being NO possibility of survival, there is now NO possibility of being doomed any longer!
- Instead of there being NO possibility of coming out of the situation alive, there is now NO possibility of dying for the child of God!
- Instead of an imminent end, there is NO end for the child of God b/c the Everlasting Father has given us EVERLASTING LIFE!
And He’s the Prince of Peace, the Prince who brings perfect, everlasting peace that passes all understanding! I love what Pastor Ray Pritchard said about the Prince of Peace: “Isaiah 9:6 tells us that God’s plan for world peace is focused on a one person—a baby asleep in a manger in Bethlehem. He is the ultimate man of peace.
*In the past, his coming made peace with God.
*In the present, those who come to him find peace in their heart when Christ comes in.
*In the future, his second coming will usher in a kingdom of peace.
There is no peace today. So much strife and bloodshed. He is not a failure. We are.” (http://www.keepbelieving.com/sermon/1996-12-22-What-Child-is-This/)
Sometimes people who are on their deathbed will say to me, “I’ve made my peace w/ God.” I think that means that they are sure of their salvation, but sometimes I’m afraid it means that they’ve done an inventory of their life & have decided for themselves that they’ve done pretty good & lived a pretty good life & they’re ready to take their life resume’ to God so He can see how good they’ve been & let them into heaven – kind of a Santa Claus mentality about God.
Friends, I want to tell you that the ONLY way you & I can “make our peace w/ God” is by turning the reins of our life over to the One who is the Prince of Peace. He ALONE can make peace w/ God FOR us.
- His blood is the ONLY way our peace can be purchased.
- His sacrifice for us is the ONLY means that our peace can be secured.
- As cruel & violent as His death on the cross was, the end result was the possibility of salvation & perfect peace for anyone in the world who will trust Him alone for their salvation.
CONCLUSION: In 1809, a traveler was passing through Kentucky. He stopped at a store and asked, “Anything happen around here, lately?” Storekeeper answered, “No, nothing ever happens around here. There was a baby born out at the Lincoln cabin last night–that’s all.”
Just a baby at the Lincoln cabin — Abraham Lincoln.
You never know what may happen in the world because a baby was born. And the prophet Isaiah foretold of the greatest birth of the greatest baby in all of eternity. He came to bring light into our darkness, hope into our despair, & life into our doom.
And what does our response to Him need to be?
- Trust Him.
- Yield to Him.
- Worship Him.