Isaiah 9:1-7 and the First Advent of Christ
 
Typically, there are a few passages of Scripture that are highlighted on Christmas cards when it comes to celebrating the First Advent of Christ. Amongst them is Isaiah 7:14, which states, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” Another special one is Matthew 1:23, The New Testament quotes this passage from Isaiah to verify its fulfillment in the birth of Jesus Christ. God’s Word declares, “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
 
“God with us,” what a glorious concept! The God of the Bible is not far off, unconcerned, and detached from His creatures. Though He is Transcendent, above, beyond, and outside His creation, He is also Immanent. This means He interacts, intervenes, and intercedes to brings us near to Himself through the merits of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 7:25). Ephesians 2:13 reveals, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
There is, however, a premier Scripture that rises above the rest of prophetic announcements concerning the Savior’s birth as a majestic mountain exceeds the foot hills. It is Isaiah 9:6, 7, which states:
 
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
 
This passage, in and of itself, is chalk full of revelation, sound theology, and grand doctrine. Chief amongst them are the coming of Messiah, the deity of Christ, and the advancement of His Kingdom and government in the earth. To fully comprehend the glory of this passage, however, one must investigate the previous verses in Isaiah 9:1-5 that prepare its way. These passages reveal the context and condition of mankind as the Good News is being heralded by Isaiah.
 
Isaiah 9:1 states, “Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed, as when at first He lightly esteemed the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward more heavily oppressed her, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, In Galilee of the Gentiles.” This speaks of a time of judgment. Gloom, oppression, and distress plagued the world. Yet, in the midst of this bleakness, a promise was granted by God. A Promise One will come to bring deliverance to His people.
 
How should we liken this in our day? America is a debtor nation due to our avarice, impatience, governmental theft, and poor economic policies. Many Americans, themselves, are also enslaved by debt. Imagine a Great Benefactor seeing you drowning in a sea of debt that comes to your aid and pays it off (Matthew 18:21-35). All the gloom, oppression, and distress would disappear in a heartbeat. It would be replaced by unspeakable joy that is full of glory.
 
Isaiah 9:2 proclaims, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.” This powerful passage is repeated in the New Testament (Matthew 4:16). Once again, the Old Testament prophesied and looked forward to fulfillment. The New Testament reveals God’s faithfulness in establishing His Word, and we can now look back with the assurance, “It is finished” (John 19:28-30). It happened exactly as God predicted with no deviations or shadow of turning. No other so-called “holy book” of any other religion can duplicate this accuracy in foretelling the future.
 
Isaiah 9:2 pinpoints the wretched condition of our fallen race. We walk in darkness, enslaved by sin, under the sway of the Evil One, and are hell bound. Death with all its uncertainty stalks the minds of men with great fear, whether we acknowledge it or not. To cope and manage, we look for love, meaning, value, security and stability in all the wrong places. Drugs, alcohol, sexual immorality and a host of other vices rush in to fill the void of our empty, longing souls. We get burned time and again and yet press on in our vain conceits. Eventually, disappointment, disillusionment, bitterness, hard hardheartedness, seared conscience, sickness and death take its toll as men fade into perdition.
 
Now imagine in that miserable setting that was exemplified by Plato’s Cave allegory where people who live in a cave of darkness are oblivious to this great light. Tragically, they are not aware of the reality of an outer world (The Kingdom of God) that has light, life, truth, love, and salvation. These dejected creatures in the darkened cave are chained and a great wall separates them from these realities. If one does escape, he is first dazzled by the light and then adjusts. His clarity eventually focuses in to the new reality. Slowly but surely, he comes to the truth as revealed in the light. Immediately, there is a sense of responsibility to go back and rescue those still deceived in the cave. Instead of receiving the messenger of light, however, those in the cave kill him. They are much more at home with the familiar darkness than they are with the unaccustomed light.
 
It appears Plato, a Greek Philosopher, was inspired by natural or general revelation. He aptly pointed out the plight of man in a fallen world filled with sin and demons. Though he did not use this allegory to reveal Christian truth, its depictions are Biblical. Regardless, those sitting in the cave, chained in darkness and dwell in the shadow of death will see a great light. No, it is not a philosophical light as Plato envisioned. It is the greater light of God Himself coming to this earth as a helpless babe in a manger (Luke 2:7). God’s Word, which is God made flesh, dwelt amongst us and we beheld His glory (John 1:1-14). Jesus Christ is the true light that lights everyman coming into the world (John 1:9).
 
To those who repent, believe, and follow Christ, we become children of light. Based upon this truth, the Apostle Paul admonished, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” To those outside the saving faith of our Lord, he cried out, “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light” (Ephesians 5:14).
 
God’s light exposes, brings clarity, and manifests truth, which is the only liberating force available in our poor fallen world. Jesus taught, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31, 32). God sent His light to shatter the darkness and set the captives free. There is a problem, however. It is one that Plato stumbled upon in his analogy. Men love darkness more than the light and they will kill (In word or deed) any messenger who disturbs their cave (John 16:2). Jesus warned:
 
And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God (John 3:19-21).
 
It was sinful men inspired by demonic power that crucified the Lord of glory. It appeared darkness had triumphed and Satan’s cave remained undisturbed. His arms were folded and his goods were secure. Yet, three day later, the light, power, and presence of God exploded in a tomb. Christ was raised from the dead! His truth keeps marching on and this “Stronger One” bound Satan and plundered his goods (Mark 3:27). Indeed, to this day, there are those who still meander in darkness and draw near to death. The light of Christ still radiates to break their chains of darkness and mend their broken hearts (Luke 4:18).
Isaiah 9:3-5 states:
 
You have multiplied the nation and increased its joy; they rejoice before You according to the joy of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For You have broken the yoke of his burden and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian. For every warrior’s sandal from the noisy battle, and garments rolled in blood, will be used for burning and fuel of fire.
 
These verses precede the promise of the coming of the Christ Child. Notice the theme is “Joy to the Word, the Lord has come. Let earth receive her King.” These passages first speak of a joy that comes with receiving a mighty harvest. Imagine the preparations, the hard work and the great risk that goes into planting, watering, and overseeing this agricultural venture. With men, it is a tossup, whether or not, a harvest succeeds. The origin with this harvest does not rest with men, however. It is heaven that is superintending this Kingdom crop. It will not fail to produce good Kingdom fruit. Though there may be struggle along the way, God’s Word promises, “He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him (Psalms 126:6).
 
Next, these passages reveal the battle. It reveals the spoils that come from waging a good warfare. Picture a small army facing an overwhelming enemy intent on their utter destruction. No prisoners, no mercy, and nowhere to retreat. Our deliverance in this battle is reminiscent of the four lepers chronicled in 2 Kings. Lepers were outcasts who were ostracized by society. They are sitting in the place of defeat and all their prospects were death. They decided they should at least march towards the enemy’s camp and surrender. But as God would have it, instead of seeing four pitiful, pathetic lepers, the enemy hears a great army approaching. Apparently, God turned up His amplifier in heaven that shook the enemy to its core. The Syrian army abandoned their post, dispersed, and the lepers inherited all their spoils of war.
 
Mankind is helpless and defenseless against a three-fold enemy, which is our sinful flesh, Satan and demonic power, and this illegitimate world system that is in rebellion to God’s loving and just rule. In the midst of the fray, Jesus steps in as our Mighty Champion and Great Deliverer who “saved us all from Satan’s power when we had gone astray.” Now, the field that contains all of His Kingdom treasures is available to us. Provided, we experience the joy over discovering it and then go and sell all that we have to buy that field (Matthew 13:44).
 
Through Christ, His Kingdom, and great salvation amongst men, the rod of oppression is broken as Isaiah 9:1-5 promised. Our captivity has ceased. The harvest of deliverance has come. The night of wrong has ended and the light of right has dawned. The promise is fulfilled. How is all this possible? “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given” (Isaiah 9:5). Merry Christmas and have a blessed New Year in God’s Kingdom.

The Glorious Incarnation

In a couple of weeks the world will celebrate Christmas. As the years march on, the controversy surrounding this day magnifies. The mainstream church seeks to defend its language, “Merry Christmas” from the Christ denying “Happy Holiday” or “Winter Solstice” substitutions. Some Christians view it as an unholy alliance between Christianity and paganism, which should be avoided like the plague. Of course, the same case is made for Holy Week and the celebration of our Lord’s resurrection. In typical fashion, the God-hating world consistently dishonors the significance of Christ by substituting His preeminence with pagan themes. The question then becomes, should we throw out the baby with the bath water? In other words, should we reject God’s original due to satanic counterfeits? I’ll leave these questions to each man’s conscience to consider.

The view of Christmas has other implications as well. Some Protestants cringe at the last three words mas as it may be a reference to the Catholic Mass. Some point out that Christ was not born on December 25th, so why even bother. Others seek to avoid the commercialism surrounding the birth of Christ by concentrating on the “reason for the season.” Obviously, Christmas has become many things to many people.

But whether people honor or protest Christmas, its annual commemoration is certain. I suspect it will remain this way for the foreseeable future. Minimally, the merchants of the earth have a vested interest to secure the day if for no other reason than to boost their bottom line. The purpose for this article, however, seeks to understand the birth of Christ from a Biblical perspective. Does the Bible honor the event? If so, in what ways is the birth of Christ distinguished?

There is no doubt the God of the Bible viewed it as a major production. There were several hundred prophecies, types, and shadows that predicted, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given (Isaiah 9:6).” In fact, there are over three hundred prophecies concerning the Messiah interwoven throughout the Old Testament. Some of them are duplications of the same prophecy. For instance, the prophecy concerning Jesus being from the house of David is repeated about fourteen times. The prophecy that foretells the birth place of Messiah as the city of Bethlehem is repeated five times (Micah 5:2). The number of non-repeating distinct prophecies, however, comes in at about one hundred and ninety.

M.B. Bleecker, an engineer, took one hundred and fifty of these noteworthy prophecies that Jesus fulfilled and calculated the odds of His fulfilling them all. The odds of one man fulfilling one hundred and fifty prophecies in one lifetime are one in –
1,039,851,278,722,473,896,502,516,467,047,788,121,009,514,090,594,304

The odds of Jesus fulfilling just eight of them in His lifetime are one in –

100,000,000,000,000,000

Following up on this mathematical probability, consider Peter Stoner in Science Speaks (Moody Press, 1963). Mr. Stoner demonstrates that coincidence is ruled out by the science of probability. Stoner suggests that by using the modern science of probability in reference to eight prophecies, “we find that the chance that any man might have lived down to the present time and fulfilled all eight prophecies is 1 in 1017.” That would be 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000.

In order to help us comprehend this staggering probability, Stoner illustrates it by supposing that “we take 1017 silver dollars and lay them over the face of Texas, so that they cover all of the state two feet deep.”

Mr. Stoner continues:

Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man.

In the realms of astronomy, the Star of Bethlehem has garnered for itself “the world’s most famous celestial event” in history. God rearranged the heavens as a sign that something of dramatic worth was transpiring upon the earth. Of course, it was never a common occurrence that the heavens would open and a choir of angelic hosts would appear to sing praise to God as they bring “good tidings of great joy.” What was the reason for such a bodacious display? They were carrying a divine message, which stated, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

The Bible records that there was no small stir to the holy announcement. The most famous response came from the woman who was chosen to conceive and give birth to the Son of God. Today, we recognize Mary’s prophetic reply as the Magnificat. Pay close attention to her declarations as it pertains to this poor fallen world. Mary cries out:

My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; as he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

Mary acknowledges the incredible favor that has been demonstrated to her personally. Beyond personal considerations, she proclaims that there will be powerful ramifications that will greatly impact the world. Wrongs will be righted. Justice will eventually prevail. Oppression in due course will cease. Tyrants, dictators, the ruling elite, and the proud will be cast down. The hungry, poor, outcast, and disenfranchised will be helped. All this and more is guaranteed by the promise God spoke to Abraham and is now coming to pass with the birth of Christ. Is this something that should be ignored or should it be shouted from the rooftops now and forever more.

The theological term for this glorious event is called the Incarnation. In general terms it means in the flesh or to become human. When it comes to the birth of Christ, however, who or what is becoming human or coming in the flesh? The Gospel according to John grants us the Biblical meaning, John 1:1 and 1:14 states:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God… And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

The denial of the Incarnation is what actually constitutes the dreadful designation the Bible calls Anti-Christ. Any person, religion, or philosophy that denies Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is Anti-Christ (1 John 4:1-3). Perhaps, there is more to this Christmas business than meets the eye.

Remarkably, the same Word that spoke the heavens and the earth into existence, the same Word canonized in the Bible, the same Word that God sent to heal us, and deliver us from destruction became flesh and dwelt among us. One of the specific words is the fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14 which states, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Matthew interprets the name Immanuel as God with us. C. S. Lewis defined the significance of the Incarnation as “The Son of God became a man so that men could become the sons of God.”

The first mention of the promise of the Incarnation traces back to Genesis 3:15. God promised, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Normally, I present this passage of Scripture to teach on the battle that is raging for the souls of men, the lives of children, and the future of our planet. For this article, however, the emphasis will change. The spot light will focus on this passage as the first mention of the glorious Gospel of the Kingdom and the Incarnation as God’s remedy to correct the fall of man. To make this possible God had to establish a seed line.

God tapped Abraham and said, “I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.” Why did God choose Abraham? This might have something to do with it. Genesis 18:19 states, “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.”

The promise of Messiah passed from Abraham to Isaac from Isaac to Jacob. Jacob had twelve sons, which became the twelve tribes of Israel. Out of the twelve tribes, the tribe of Judah was chosen. Genesis 49:10 promised, “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” Out of the tribe of Judah, the House of David was chosen. 2 Samuel 7:12, 13 declares:

And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.

Finally, the book of Galatians announces The Promise is born. Galatians 4:4, 5 records, “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”

Having traced the seed line that brought about the Glorious Incarnation, it is time to explore what this means to us and this poor fallen world? There are many wonderful blessings associated with the Incarnation, but for our purposes, I’d like to concentrate on just two of them. One is corporate that concerns the world and the other is individual.

The corporate implications of the Incarnation are discovered in Isaiah 9:6, 7. God’s word states:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

When did the Kingdom of God come and the establishment of God’s government commence? When the Son was given and the Holy Child was born. What does this mean in the real world? “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever (Revelations 11:15).” How or when shall it completely take place? All we need to know is “the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform it.”

The Gospel according to Luke reveals how Christmas relates to us as individuals. God’s word states:

And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God (Luke 1:28-35).

Biblically, the same manner in which Mary conceived Christ physically is the same manner we receive Christ spiritually. Be it unto us according to thy Word. 1 Peter 1:23 affirms this powerful truth, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” James concurs, “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls (James 1:21).” The Apostle Paul agrees as well, “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 3:15).”

The circumstances surrounding the birth of Christ into our poor fallen world are highly significant as well. As the heavens and the earth were being prepared to receive their King, Satan was preparing to devour the Child. Revelation 12:3, 4 states, “And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born.” Why this murderous plot by the one who has come to kill, steal, and destroy? Simply, “She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron (Revelation 12:5). It was either murder this Child or be dispossessed in time and history.

Herod, the wicked king, was the willing dupe of the Evil One to seek the destruction of the Christ Child. One cannot truly commemorate the Glorious Incarnation without remembering the Massacre of the Innocent. When Herod checked with the sages as to the time and location of Messiah’s birth, he, in a fit of rage, sent soldiers to murder all children in Bethlehem under the age of two. Better the innocent are slain than the guilty party escape.

With all its pomp and ceremony, whether feigned or unfeigned, associated with the Christmas saga, the birth of Messiah reveals the battle that rages to this day. Whenever Satan rears his ugly head, he goes after the seed of men. He is not just waiting for the Child to be born to devour in our day, he is reaching into the womb to devour children who are made in the image of God. The abortion holocaust of our day is the continuation of the Massacre of Innocents. Yet, the same God who survived Herod, will be the same God who will work through His Church to end this atrocity in Jesus’ name!

There was also no room for him in the inn. This world and each sinner in it have a natural repulsion towards Christ. We suppress the truth in unrighteousness. We reject the light and walk in darkness for fear our evil deeds will be exposed. We go astray from the womb because we are conceived in sin. We are born alienated from God and seek to be a law and god unto ourselves. We love our sin more than we love God. Thus for many, there is no room in our wicked hearts for Christ.

He was born in a stinky stable and laid in a manger. The manger was not a crib, but a feeding trough for animals. To think that the King of the universe chose this humble estate in which to become one of us is quite revealing. What a powerful depiction of the state of our lives before the King of Glory by the power of the Holy Ghost takes up residence in our immoral lives. We suffer from stinking thinking and sinful actions. When Christ regenerates our lives, however, the sanctifying power of His precious blood goes to work to purify and cleanse our “smelly stables” or if you prefer, our darknened souls.

Lastly, the ruling elite were clueless as the lowly shepherds saw and heard the glorious announcement:

Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men (Luke 2:10-14).

So it is today, many glory in their riches, power, and wisdom, while those who are being saved boast in the Lord. In this way Christmas, among its many other accomplishments, also reveals our calling:

For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

Just as in His resurrection, Christ refused to appear to Pilate, Caesar, and the High Priest, but rather visited His rough and unsophisticated disciples, so at His birth, the angels appear to lowly shepherds and bypass the rich and famous. As Jesus grew into an adult; His attitude towards the proud never changed. He prayed, “I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes (Matthew 11:25).” “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out (Romans 11:33)!”

Much more can be shared about the implications of the Incarnation, but this will have to suffice for now. With that be said, I want to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and most blessed New Year in God’s Kingdom!