People spend time and money to decorate, work slows down or stops, kids are out of school. We rush around to shop for gifts; we spend time in line buying and then shipping. Why do we do all this?
Is Christmas so special because of all the lights and decorations and ambience? Is this what makes Christmas so special?
THIS is why Christmas is so wonderful. It’s not about the date, December 25th, or the lights, or the gifts, or the ambience - It’s about the promised sign and the fulfillment of that promise.
In March 2020 at the start of lockdowns, Hallmark ran a Christmas movies marathon and
outdoor malls put Christmas lights back up. Why??? Both Hallmark & mall management said Christmas makes people feel good! And it should but really for the proper reason…
Isaiah 9:6-7 –700 years before Christmas, the birth of Jesus, Scripture gave us the promise of the fulfilled prophecy of the coming of Jesus and his eternal kingdom.
Isaiah 9:1-2 is quoted by Matthew 4:12-16 who records the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy.
Matthew 4:12-16 Jesus Begins to Preach
“12 When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. 13 Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali— 14 to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:
15 “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— 16 the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”
17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
The last verse of Isaiah 8 reads…
“Then they will look to the earth, and see only, distress and darkness, and fearful gloom; and they will be driven away into darkness.’
Clearly the content of Isaiah 9:1 flows from the previous verse Isaiah 8:22.
Isaiah 9 begins with a contrast which forces one to return to the previous passage to determine what is being contrasted.
In contrast to Ahaz, who refused to listen to and obey God,
the Lord would raise up a faithful King.
THAT’S THE PROMISE OF CHRISTMAS
Isaiah 8, Isaiah 9, and Matthew 4 is a unit of coherent thought and deals with a common subject the Lord raising up a faithful King.
“Then they will look to the earth, and see only, distress and darkness, and fearful gloom; and they will be driven away into darkness.”
“there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress.”
“16 the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”
With those passages as a backdrop, let’s look at a verse 1,000’s of churches will be reading in 2 weeks on Christmas Eve and Christmas day.
“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.”
These verses begin with a child and end with a king!
Isaiah 9:6-7 –the name of Jesus as “Wonderful Counselor.”
Isaiah was 700 yrs before Christ.
When he spoke/wrote these words life in Israel was hard.
The Assyrians were on the march, taking people into captivity.
Isaiah’s prophecy gave the people of God hope, hope they so desperately needed.
The word 'wonderful' in this passage literally means “incomprehensible.”
The Messiah will cause us to be “full of wonder.”
The word is much deeper than the way it’s used in normal conversation today. We say things are “wonderful” if they are pleasant, lovely, or the least bit likable.
In Judges 13:17, Samson’s father, asked the LORD what His name was.
“What is your name, so that we may honor you when your word comes true?”
18 He replied, “Why do you ask my name? It is beyond understanding.”
Why do you ask my name, it is beyond your understanding?
When He was on the earth, Jesus demonstrated His wonderfulness in many ways,
· beginning with His conception in the womb of a virgin (Matthew 1:23)
· He showed He is the “wonderful” One in His power to heal (Matthew 4:23)
· His amazing teaching (Mark 1:22)
· His perfect life (Hebrews 4:15)
· His resurrection from the dead (Mark 16:6)
The second part of the Messiah’s title is the word counselor.
Isaiah 9:6-7 –the name of Jesus as “Mighty God.”
The identity of God as Almighty establishes the sense of awe and wonder, realizing He is God above all things without limitation.
El Shaddai “The All-powerful One”
“The Mighty One of Jacob” (Genesis 49:21, Psalm 132:2,5)
Isaiah 9:6-7 –the name of Jesus as “Everlasting Father.”
In ancient times, it was the father who was to protect and provide for his children.
“Everlasting” simply means “without end.”
So, as the Everlasting Father, the Messiah, His fatherhood will be without end. How many people need to hear and UNDERSTAND that today????
Isaiah 9:6-7 –the name of Jesus as “Prince of Peace.”
The Hebrew word for “peace” is shalom. In a world filled with anger and violence, we need peace, real peace.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”.
Because of Christ’s sacrifice, we are restored to a relationship of peace with God
This is a deep peace between our hearts and our Creator that cannot be taken away. John 10:27-28
The ultimate fulfillment of Christ’s work as “Prince of Peace.”
“Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel”
Immanuel means “God with us” The name Immanuel appears in the Bible three times, twice in Isaiah 7:14 and 8:8, and once in the Gospel of Matthew 1:23.
An alternate spelling of the name Immanuel is Emmanuel, which comes from the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament.
· Immanuel is the translation of the original Hebrew name into English,
· Emmanuel, spelled with an E, is a translation from Hebrew to Greek to English.
CULTURALLY - In the book of Isaiah, a child born in the time of King Ahaz was given the name Immanuel as a sign to the king that Judah would receive relief from attacks:
THIS is why Christmas is so wonderful. It's not about the date, December 25th, it’s about the promised sign and the fulfillment of that promise.
Jesus fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy because He was literally “God with us”. He was fully human yet still fully God. Christ came to live in Israel with His people.
Christ's birth brought the holy God within reach of sinful man. God came to live with us so we could live with Him.
The Son of God became the Son of Man that He might change the sons of men into sons of God (1 John 3:1).
Only Jesus Christ fits the Messianic claims of Micah 5:2
· He was born in Bethlehem Ephrathah (Matthew 2, Luke 2:1-20)
· Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, the ruler of Israel (John 4:25-26)
· He is “from ancient times” or eternal (John 1:1, Colossians 1:16-17).
No other ruler in Israel fits these requirements.
THIS is why Christmas is so wonderful. It’s not about the date, December 25th, it’s about the promised sign and the fulfillment of that promise.