4. A Son to Rule

Nine Lessons of Christmas Meditations: 4. A Son to Rule

Reading 3: Isaiah 9:2,6–7

Isa 9:6     For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.

Context: Again the lesson book summarises this reading as, “A prophet foretells the coming of the Saviour” What an understatement that is! With each of these readings we need to remind ourselves that each one is simply one link in the chain of nine and together, as we saw at the beginning, “The main theme is the development of the loving purposes of God…seen through the windows and words of the Bible”. Development suggests a gradual rolling out of the big picture that we referred to previously. So far, we have seen in the previous two readings, the consequences of the Fall, indicating a world with a problem, and yet there was also given a glimmer of hope through the coming of a human being who would vanquish Satan. That hope was expanded in the second reading to be seen as coming through an offspring of Abraham.  Thus, when we come to this third prophetic reading, we this ‘person’ being described in the most amazing of ways.

The Reading: Verse 2 speaks of a great light that will come to the area of Galilee, but then as the prophecy continues, we come back to hear about one who will come, a human being, a child being born. But now we are shown something more, this child will turn out to be a ruler who is given an amazing fourfold description that blows our minds away because he is referred to as God. Now I suggest that this description is so incredible that the readers of it through the centuries (and even today) could not take it in. This child is going to be God! Yes, that is what it says, but how can that be? But then, restated, he will be ruler over a kingdom that will have no end (v.7).

The answer to the plight of humanity following the Fall, will be a new kingdom with a new ruler who is God Himself. The problem with the old world is that mankind rejected the rule of God (that is what Sin is) so how can a people be created who will submit to this new ruler who is God in disguise?  In the long-term we know the answer is that He comes to those who are beginning to be jaded by this self-centred, godless life and He convicts them of their need. Well that may be a start but how will that deal with their central problem – their guilt?  That bit we are not told; it remains a mystery until the events of the Gospels unfold and the truth is eventually seen. This coming one will step into our shoes and take our guilt and our punishment – but that is yet in the future and, at the moment, not revealed. The emphasis at the present is of a new kingdom that will come under the instigation of a human figure who is, in reality God.

Lessons?  Remember the main point about these studies is to look at each of these ‘Lessons’ in the Service and ask, what do they teach us?

Live with Mystery: The first thing that must be said as we face the limited revelation (as amazing as it is) that is here in Isaiah, is that although sometimes the Scriptures seem a mystery to us, we need to hang on in there, praying for revelation until understanding comes. This ‘mystery’ was God-created and so for centuries although there was this picture of a coming one who would instigate a new kingdom; the central feature of his dying to take our sins and guilt and punishment, was not clear. When we are young Christians, we will come across many parts of Scripture that leave us wondering, but as the days go by, as we continue to read, and He continues to teach us, more and more becomes clear. What was once a mystery becomes obvious. Be patient with what you still don’t understand; it will become clear in time.

A Call for Faith: The second thing that becomes obvious with such staggering words, is that to receive them, believe them and take them in, we need faith, the ability to believe that what God says, He means!  When the first readers of Isaiah’s words saw them, questions would arise. How can this be? What does it really mean? How can this child be God? It challenges our human minds and so at the end of the day we have to conclude, ‘If God says it, I believe it. I may not understand it, but if He says it, it will happen somehow.’  That, I suggest, if often how we need to respond when we are given personal prophecy that we think, “Surely not!” No, faith says, “I believe it. I don’t know how it can be, but I believe He will do it.”

Kingdom Obedience:  Even before we fully understand it all, we need to take in this third thing: the primary issue in respect of receiving the salvation Christ has earned for us on the Cross, is all about our obedience. A ruler expects obedience from his subjects. This is all about the kingdom of God and He expects obedience from us otherwise we won’t be able to receive all He has doe us. Remember the Great Commission of Matt 28: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,…. teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (v.19,20) The apostle John picked up on this in his first letter. In chapter 3, verses 7 to 10, count how many times he uses the word ‘does’.

So the challenge of this reading is as the header said, “A prophet foretells the coming of the Saviour” but within that there is to accept the revelation of God when it does not appear complete, to have faith to ‘do’, in respect of what we do understand, and particularly to obey what He says. May it be so.

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