Christmas Threads Meditations: Thread 6: The Mysteries of God (4)
Isa 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
(Additional Reading: Isa 9:6,7, 11:1-9)
More from Isaiah: We have already seen how Isaiah dropped the ‘breadcrumb’ showing where the Messiah, the Son of God, would come to reveal the glory of God, a ‘great light’ in dark Galilee. The only trouble was that in the eyes of the scholars at least, some of these things he said seemed contradictory or even unbelievable. Following that Galilee prophecy the prophecy flows on getting more and more incredible until in v.6 we find references to this coming one who will be called, “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace,” a ruler over the throne of David, a rule that will go on for ever. If you have never heard those words in the crescendo that builds up in Handel’s Messiah, you have never heard anything! But what did they mean? The coming one will be God the everlasting Father? How can that be? Already Isaiah had prophesied in another mysterious way about a child to be born to a virgin, (7:14), a child to be called Immanuel and that name means ‘God with us’. How can this be?
The David Link: But there is more: “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit,” (Isa 11:1) and, ““In love a throne will be established; in faithfulness a man will sit on it– one from the house of David –one who in judging seeks justice and speeds the cause of righteousness.” (Isa 16:5) and, “Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.” (Isa 55:3) We commented yesterday about Bethlehem being David’s home. This coming one is going to linked with David who was a ruler who brought deliverance and peace to Israel.
The Suffering Servant: So, on one hand we have talk about God coming, a ruler coming with a mighty reign, and then we find Isaiah prophesying a number of ‘servant songs’ about the coming one and in chapter 55 we find, “See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at him— his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness.” (Isa 53:13,14) This is the confusing mix of these ‘breadcrumbs’, these clues, these prophetic words that filtered through the other prophecies of Isaiah, that left no other conclusion than One is coming to instigate a new, unique, everlasting reign, an expression of God with us, and yet somehow there is this black cloud hanging over it all with the mention of suffering and rejection. How could it be?
Advent? Now we have to concede that many of these prophetic references do not see their fulfillment until the Son has come, revealed the Father’s love through his ministry, and then suffered and died for us, been raised from the dead and ascended back to heaven. But here is the point: Advent, we said, is a time of waiting and expectation and this expectation, built by an amazing trail of breadcrumbs (it is said there are over 300 prophecies about Jesus in the Old Testament) is what was there in those whose hearts sought after God (see Simeon Lk 2:26) and there, probably in not such a strong way but there nevertheless, in the general Jewish population and taught in the synagogues. All of this is the backdrop to the coming of the babe in Bethlehem, but it is no wonder the expectation was so unclear because it had so many different shades that would not become clear for at least another thirty or so years.
And to prayer: “Lord, again, in anticipation we want to say thank you for the wonder of this time that we remember this month, of your coming to earth. Father, thank you for this amazing kaleidoscope of breadcrumbs, so many different aspects of his coming which must have left a quizzical anticipation in your people, wondering how all these things could be. Thank you that we now have the whole picture and so we can see, Lord Jesus, how you fulfilled them all. Help us please, Lord, to handle the aspects of life and our understanding of you and your desires for us, where we don’t yet see it all clearly. Please give us patience to wait your timing, trusting in your goodness that will be revealed in the way you want it to come. Thank you Lord so much. Amen.”