This is the sermon for Sunday, December 13th, 2009.

The Christmas Prophet part 2

Character matters.

Isaiah 9:1-7.

Isaiah 9:1-7 ESV – 1 But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. 2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined. 3 You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil. 4 For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. 5 For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire. 6 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. 7Of 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.

INTRODUCTION

This is the second sermon in our Christmas sermon series, “The Christmas Prophet.”  Last time we looked at the Christmas sign given and what truly represents what Christmas is all about:  A virgin will give birth to a child, whose name is Immanuel – God with us.

In our culture and society, much can be said in a positive fashion about self assurance.  People are told to think positive about themselves, and they can pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, and just with positive confession or thinking, can alleviate much of their problems, plus maybe the problems of friends and families as well.

Well, according to the Bible, the world cannot help itself.  Notice what Paul says.

Romans 1:18 ESV – For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

The fact is all men and women by nature are unrighteous and ungodly.  We do our best to suppress the truth of God’s word in this society that we live in.  You see, Character matters; and we don’t have the character within ourselves to change our condition.

What is our condition?  Well, on the surface it might seem to be our economy, family issues, our lot in life, but truthfully that is not our condition.  Our condition is that mankind is at enmity with God.  We are sinners, in desperate need for a Savior.  The good news is the Savior has come – Jesus Christ.  That is what the Christmas season is about.  It is not about holly and mistletoe; not about gifts and pumpkin pie; not about turkey and dressing and spending time with dear ones and family.  It is all about what the Christmas prophet – Isaiah declares.

Isaiah 9:2 ESV – The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.

You see, we have lived in the deep darkness of the land called sin.  We are blinded and hopeless to see our way out of it, but the light of the Gospel – which speaks of our wonderful Savior – Jesus Christ – has shown.

You see, His character matters because His character is righteous, holy and good.

Now our text deals with first of all the land of Zebulun and Naphtali.  These were in the region of Galilee.  These were the first places that the king of Assyria invaded and captured and took the people away.

2 Kings 15:29 ESV – In the days of Pekah king of Israel, Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria came and captured Ijon, Abel-beth-maacah, Janoah, Kedesh, Hazor, Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali, and he carried the people captive to Assyria.

So during the time of Isaiah, they were living in a very dark, depressing period.  Isaiah prophesies that in this land, a light would shine.  It would be none other than the light of the Messiah – Jesus of Nazareth.

Notice what he says.

Isaiah 9:1 ESV – But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.

Jesus fulfilled this verse by starting his ministry in the very spot prophesied here.

Matthew 4:12-17 ESV – 12Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. 13And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:  15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—16 the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Isaiah goes on and reveals to us the character of the Messiah – Jesus of Nazareth.  This is the character that He didn’t just develop, but He had as an infant because He is Immanuel – God with us.

Isaiah 9:6-7 ESV – 6 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.

These words describe our Savior’s character.  Let’s look into each one this morning.

Wonderful Counselor.

The Hebrew word for Wonderful usually describes the miraculous, and it does in this case here.  He is not just some human counselor, with human intellect trying to teach us a way to reach higher consciousness.  He is our Wonderful Counselor – our Miraculous Counselor.  You see, not only was His life, death, and resurrection miraculous – but His birth was too.  He was born of a virgin.  The Angels appeared to shepherds to give their praise of His birth.  Magi from the East came to worship Him.  A star shown forth in praise that miraculous night.  What a wonderful, wonderful evening this truly was.

He is our Wonderful Counselor in the sense that the counsel He has given us through His Word is not His own thoughts, but the Father’s, so we know that His counsel is true and altogether righteous.

John 14:10 ESV – The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.

Mighty God.

The celebrated birth of this baby is not just the celebration of a good man’s birth, but of God Himself becoming flesh and dwelling with us.

John 1:14 ESV – And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

He is described as the Mighty God.  That description is His character.  This phrase, “Mighty God,” is a Hebrew phrase for a warrior.  Meaning God would fight for Israel.

Well, understand church, God has fought for us in the sense that Christ has come and paid the penalty for our sins, that we should no longer walk in the darkness of our sin, but walk in the warm light of His truth, salvation, and love.  The Lord Jesus Christ is the victorious warrior over Satan, sin, and death.

I like the way Petra puts it:  “He came, He saw, He conquered.”

Everlasting Father.

How is Jesus like an everlasting Father?  Well, through the cross, Jesus has sought you out, found you wandering in your sin and He has restored your, forgiven you, and given you a home in His sheepfold.

Matthew 18:12-13 ESV – 12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray.

Prince of Peace.

How is He the Prince of Peace?  Well, His rule brings peace.  Our world will always be at war and people will always hate other people; but what is important, is that there is only one way to have peace with our Creator – God Almighty – and that only way has been purchased for us through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.  His rule over our hearts brings peace with God.

Notice what the angels declared the night He was born.

Luke 2:14 ESV – Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!

CONCLUSION

As we conclude this morning according to the Christmas Prophet, character matters.  The character of the Messiah –  the Christ  of Christmas is important.  He is our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.

Do you have peace with God this morning?  If you are trying to please Him based on your character and your good life and works, you do not.  His ways are higher than yours.  The only way to have peace with God is through Jesus Christ.  So turn from your sins and turn and trust Jesus Christ completely to save you.  Receive the forgiveness of your sins and be reconciled to God  Almighty.  Let the Prince of Peace govern your life.

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