For to us a child is born

CCF05092011_00001"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. Of the greatness 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." Isaiah 9:6-7 NIV

Do these verses sound familiar to you? For to us a child is born is on Christmas greeting cards in almost any store that sells them. This time of year we hear the music of Christmas from loudspeakers played everywhere from grocery stores to churches, though I wonder how many of us really listen to the message.

Megiddo Feeding TroughWhat does it mean For to us a child is born?

Isaiah couched the prophecy among others he made regarding Israel, some of future joy and others of future destruction and exile. Even in his day, I doubt Isaiah's hearers fully understood his message. Some of it made sense and spoke of nations of which they were familiar. He spoke warnings to them and gave them the word of the Lord. But in among the confusion or fears of coming judgment to His disobedient people, God also spoke peace.

He told Isaiah to tell His people that a child was coming, a son who would carry the government on his shoulders. Can you picture it? In our imaginations we might see the Greek god Atlas carrying the weight of the heavens on his shoulders, a burden and punishment apparently given by Zeus (another Greek god).

IMG_5216But this Son, this child Isaiah predicted was coming, would not carry the government as punishment but as reward. He came as a child--fulfilled in Luke 2 where shepherds were told, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given...

The prophesy was given in parts. No infant is capable of ruling a government, nor did He fulfill, in His infancy some of His other roles. He did not come as a child to sit on David's throne...then. He did not come to establish His kingdom or uphold it with justice...then. He came as a child. His first purpose was to be what the angels pronounced to the shepherds--a Savior, the Messiah, the Lord.

photo-68We sing songs like "Hark the Herald Angels Sing," which words include, "glory to the newborn king." He did come as a king. The wise men knew it when they followed all of the signs to find Him. But this King came virtually incognito. Except for the star pointing like a majestic finger and the angels declaring the triumphant entry of God to earth, Jesus came quietly. No fan fare. No trumpets blaring for all to rise and bow down to Him.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given...

The truth is, Isaiah's prophecy sounds more like God was giving us a precious gift--like all babies who are born into the world--except--this One was so much more.

He was royalty, but He didn't claim the right to be born in a palace. He was Almighty God, but He veiled His glory in human flesh. He was Wonderful Counselor (the role His Spirit would assume in our lives), Everlasting Father (the Giver of all good things--the whole Trinity was there in that moment), the Prince of Peace (Savior, the Messiah, the Lord.)

560922_487788301244092_1311217465_nSomeday the rest of Isaiah's prophecy will be fulfilled, and the sentences and paragraphs in chapter 9 will all make more sense to us than they do today. Someday the child who grew to be a man to fulfill the destiny of Savior, Messiah, and Lord through His death and resurrection for our sins against His royal, Almighty Father, will take up that mantle of government and rule and reign on David's throne as was promised to David millennia ago. He won't be like the rulers of the past or the rulers of governments we see today. He will reign in justice and righteousness forever.

But for now...this year, this season...we celebrate a Savior, the Messiah, Christ the Lord.

For to us a child is born...

Merry Christmas!