(2004) CHRISTMAS MESSAGE by Mother Barry
FOR TO US A CHILD IS BORN
Isaiah 8:19-9:7 Isaiah 9:6,7 "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."
So called, postmodernism has been around a long time. The Prophet Isaiah tasted postmodernism. He lived in troubled times. King Ahaz was afraid of the powerful nations to the north. The hearts of Ahaz and his people were shaken, as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind. (7:2) When the Assyrians flooded into the land, darkness descended. And it deepened when, in times of distress, people did not turn to God but rather consulted mediums and spiritists. Isaiah wrote, "Why do you consult the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and testimony! (Back to the Bible!) If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn. He wrote about directionless people who did not study the Bible or pray. They looked up and cursed the king and God. They looked down and saw distress and darkness and fearful gloom. (Isa 8:19-22)
Isaiah, however, had the Christmas message in his heart. We must also have the Christmas message in our hearts. Isaiah wrote, "Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress...The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned." (9:1a,2) He looked forward to Jesus, the light of the world, who began his work in that darkest of all places, Galilee of the Gentiles, the land of Zebulun and Naphtali (Mt 4:12-17).
Isaiah had hope in the darkest of times, for he remembered the time when General Gideon defeated the Midianite hoards with 300 men and broke the yoke of oppression (4). God would break the yoke of sin and Satan, the great oppressor of men. The implements of war were burned – for peace had come (5). God gives his peace to fearful, troubled mankind.
What was Isaiah's good news, this light that dawns to dispel the darkness? Look at verse 6. "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on is shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." These words, written around 700 years before the birth of Jesus describe Christ the Messiah. At Jesus' birth the angel announced: "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord." (Lk 2:10) A chorus of angels sang, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." (Lk 2:14) This prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled when God sent his Son Jesus to be born in Bethlehem. Who is this Child and what does it mean to us that He is born?
First, he is the Wonderful Counselor. We need this Wonderful Counselor. From time to time we have decisions to be make which change the direction of our lives. We make small decisions every day. Even getting up in the morning to pray and do daily bread requires a decision for some of us. We must make large decisions also: What shall I do with my life? Whom shall I marry? Where shall I study and what shall I study? We must decide whether or not to take a certain job; whether to go out as a missionary or to serve God at home. The largest and most important decision of life is decision to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior and commit myself to him and to his people. We need the Wonderful Counselor. The Bible calls the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, our Counselor. We need his wisdom and his help. When we pray and ask him for wisdom, he will give us wisdom (Jas 1:5). When I was a sophomore in college I was overwhelmed by the meaninglessness of life. I claimed the promise in James 1:5 and asked, God, if you are really there, give me wisdom according to this promise. The Wonderful Counselor heard my prayer and sent someone to invite me to study the Bible. Through the study of Romans, I met Jesus, my Savior and Lord, the living water and the bread of life. The Wonderful Counselor is our Good Shepherd. He leads us according to truth, and he leads in the best way. When we trust him with all our hearts, and do not lean on our own understanding, our Wonderful Counselor makes our paths straight (Pr 3:5,6).
Second, he is the Mighty God. The Child born to us is the Mighty God. He is the Word who was with God in the beginning. He is God. He is the one worthy of our worship. Only God, the Creator and Owner of all things is worthy of our worship. John wrote in Revelation, "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain , to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!"짹 (Rev 5:11-12) Jesus is God. Jesus is the Mighty God, the one through whom all things were created. "Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (Isa 40:28-31) Jesus is the Almighty God. Nothing is impossible for God. He created all things. He created me. He is the Owner of my life. He is the Sovereign Lord. Hebrews 1:3 says, "The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word." The mighty God stooped to save helpless sinners. The Samaritan woman was thirsty in her soul. She sought love from men, and was not satisfied. She was seeking the one worthy of her worship. She met Jesus by Jacob's well and drank the living water. Her thirst was quenched. She learned that only Jesus is the one worthy of worship.
Third, he is the Everlasting Father. Jesus is our Everlasting Father. A father is the source of love and protection. Boys need a father. Girls also need a father. In the times of Jesus and John the Baptist the heart of fathers were far from their children. John the Baptist called people to repent. He called fathers to turn their hearts to their children. We live in a world that is full of broken homes and fatherless children. Children deprived of the love and care of a father feel that something is missing in their lives. Some become angry and crooked. They do not know that only the Everlasting Father, Jesus, can give what is missing. Human fathers, even the best of fathers, cannot be everlasting. But Jesus is our Everlasting Father. He is a Father who will never leave us as desolate orphans. He promised, "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." (Jn 14:18). He has promised to be with us forever [Surely I will be with you always, even to the end of the age." (Mt 28:20)]. Jesus is a Father who cares about all his children. He gave his life to rescue his children from the power of the evil one. Jesus is full of love. His heart is always turned toward his children. Dr. William Altobar of the Philippines has a father's heart for fatherless children. But even he cannot be there for his children forever. But Jesus is the eternal Father, the Creator of heaven and earth. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. No one can be an everlasting father–no one but Jesus. Jesus' ove is unchanging. He is our Father who will love us forever.
Fourth, he is the Prince of Peace. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. The angels sang at his birth, "glory to God and peace to men." Everyone longs for peace. We want peace in our world and peace in our hearts. Jesus told his disciples, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (Jn 14:27) God promises peace to those whose minds are stayed on him (Isa 26:3) [You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. ] Sometimes we seek peace by going to a quiet vacation spot. Some people seek peace in drugs or alcohol. Some seek to forget their troubles by playing sports or video games. Some seek peace in listening endlessly to music or in sleeping all day. These things may give temporary peace, but when time passes, troubles come back like an avenging angel. The dark cloud of depression settles on some people and they take more drugs. Our American President thought that he could bring peace to the world by attacking a country whose president continually threatened terrorism. But war does not bring peace. Violence breeds violence. Hatred breeds hatred; retaliation produces more retaliation; revenge demands more revenge. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace can bring peace to the world.
Fifth, his kingdom never ends. Read verse 7. "Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. This was Isaiah's dream. It was Jesus' dream when he taught us to pray, "Your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." It was Jesus' dream and desire when he trained disciples and sent them out to make disciples of all nations. God who so loved the world that he have his only Son to die for the sins of mankind still loves this terrible, unlovable world. Surely God wants the disciples of Jesus of every generation to bring the good news of the Prince of Peace to all the people of the world. May Jesus, the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace dwell in your heart this Christmas time. May God use UBF house churches to bring his word and his gospel of love and peace to the people around the world in 2006. I pray especially for the people who live under the yoke of oppression and darkness in the Muslim world and for the suffering people of North Korea.