Advent reading for Sunday, December 6, 2015
From Isaiah 9:6-7
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.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.”
For many of us, these words may be quite familiar. At this time of year we see them on Christmas cards, ornaments and nativity sets. Perhaps it brings to mind an image of a cute little baby surrounded by adoring farm animals. After all, this prophecy from Isaiah looks forward to the birth of Jesus. But this verse is really an announcement that should stun and amaze us, and call us to worship. The message of Isaiah 9:6 is this: Behold Your King.
If that’s the case, how do we look beyond that cute nativity scene that might be in our minds?
The rest of Isaiah 9 can help. It describes people lost in darkness. There are images of battle, of tramping warriors, garments rolled in blood, fire. And there is a declaration of war: God will destroy the oppressors of his people and set them free.
“To us a child is born.”
The King of kings has come to free his people from bondage. The Lord of lords has stepped down and taken on flesh so that he might die.
“To us a son is given.”
A tiny newborn. He would seem like no more than a sliver of light in the midst of oppressive darkness.
But — he is the son of righteousness, rising with the glory of the father, rising like the morning sun and breaking through the dark.
“Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
These titles are immense. But this weight of glory rests on that tiny infant wrapped in rags, lying in a manger. His arrival is an act of war on the kingdoms of the earth who have set themselves against God, war against sin and death and satan. His death on the cross was the final victory in this war, and now he is reigning over his kingdom. We who were in darkness have seen a great light. The sun has risen, and we are awaiting the day when — at last — we will see the fullness of his glory revealed.
“Unto us a child is born, to us a son is given.” Look at the baby in the manger and behold your king!