A famous Christmas passage concerning the giving of the Messiah, Jesus the Christ, the Son of God to mankind:
“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah chapter 9, verse 6)
The one who wrote this was known as a significant (or “major”) prophet of the One True God. That prophet lived sometime around the years 739 and 681 B.C., and he wrote the words God revealed to him while he lived in Israel (specifically, the “southern kingdom” of Israel, called Judah). His name, which the book he wrote is named after, was Isaiah.
In our day, when we hear the word “prophet,” what we have in mind is probably not exactly what the Bible has in mind. Concerning the Word of God, a prophet is a person whom God has specifically tasked and empowered to accurately and precisely tell people what God says. This means the prophet recorded (wrote down) exactly what God told them to say; often, the recorded words were recorded because the prophet actually spoke the words to a specific audience first and then wrote them down afterward.
Isaiah is called a “major prophet” because his “book [is] longer and the content has broad, even global implications” (https://www.gotquestions.org/major-minor-prophets.html).
The next sentence in Isaiah’s prophecy describes the One he just spoke about in more detail. After giving extraordinary description of the “child born to us, a son…given” who rules the government, who is perfectly wise, is God in the flesh, who is eternal (as only God is), and is the royal possessor of peace itself, Isaiah expands on the governmental aspect of this Given One’s reign:
“There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. the zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.” (Isaiah chapter 9, verse 7)
According to God, who revealed this to the man Isaiah, this Given One’s government will have no limits and will never end (all-encompassing jurisdiction, eternal reign); He will be a King who reigns from the nation Israel (king David was a famous and righteous king of Israel; you’ll remember him from the story of David and Goliath); His reign will be completely and perfectly just (no corruption or possibility of corruption) and righteous (holy and conformed to God’s perfect nature). Lastly, Isaiah reveals that God Himself will establish this Given King.
As you read through Isaiah’s book, he speaks on many different topics and historical events which he witnessed and was involved in. However, before moving on, I want to share a second glimpse of this Given King whom Isaiah prophesied about. We now examine a portion the sixth chapter of Isaiah’s book:
“In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne: lofty and exalted with the train of His robe filling the temple.
Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said: ’Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory.’ And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.” (Isaiah 6:1-4)
Consider the “Christmas passage” which Isaiah wrote, which we previously discussed; that passage causes us to rejoice because we know it points to Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He is the One who died on the cross to atone for the sins of His people who believe in Him. Christians love to consider and hope for the day when Jesus returns and that prophecy is fulfilled. However, consider this passage from Isaiah 6. Consider how the Lord Jesus is described:
– Lofty and exalted
– “Holy, Holy, Holy”
– “Lord of hosts” (hosts = Heaven’s armies of angels)
– His glory fills creation
These proclamations were pronounced by the deafening voices of angelic beings called “seraphim.” These otherworldly creatures were epic for the prophet to see, and unlike anything he had ever witnessed. Yet, these beings hide their faces and bodies with their wings because they are in the presence of the Lord God, the King. Jesus’ holy and righteous nature is potent enough for even angels to fearfully respect His glory and power.
Isaiah’s next words are his reaction to seeing the Lord, the King, the One whom these angelic beings worshipped:
“Then I said: ’Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.’” (Isaiah 6:5)
The word “woe” should be understood to be “passionate cry of grief or despair” and “ruined” should be understood to be “to cease, cause to cease, cut off, destroy, perish” (definitions from BLB). So, Isaiah’s reaction to seeing Jesus is essentially a panicked and terrified:
“Oh no! Oh no! Oh no! I’m going to die! I. Am. Going. To. DIE!”
He then explains why he feels like this:
“I’m sinful, my country is sinful, and now I see the holy and righteous presence of God, so I’m going to die!”
Do you understand why Isaiah felt this way when he saw the Lord God? Sometimes it is hard for us to understand things the Bible says describing God because our experience of life every day is like Isaiah’s. We’re sinful and we live in a sinful country and world. This seemingly ubiquitous reality of sin dulls our minds and hearts to understanding what holiness is because holiness is a concept so foreign to our understanding of life. Perhaps this will help:
Imagine you’re sitting in a small, empty, brightly lit, white room. You’re tied to the chair with ropes, chains, and duct-tape. Your mouth is taped and you cannot speak. You’re locked in the room and you have the sense that something really awful is about to happen to you, and you are completely aware that you cannot escape. You know that no one knows where you are, and you know that no one is looking for you.
The door opens and someone walks in that you do not know. Immediately you realize from looking at them in light of your present circumstance that you cannot defend yourself. You feel a sense of dread and panic and helplessness as the person enters the room, and closes the door behind them.
If you’re imagining this scenario, you are probably picturing the person in the room with you as a “bad guy” and yourself as the victim. However, Isaiah’s situation, the one which every person will face when they die, sees the situation correctly.
“Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”
The helplessness, the terror, the dread, the sense of imminent death and suffering you might feel in the scenario I described is what Isaiah felt when he saw Jesus Christ sitting on His throne. Except Isaiah didn’t see Jesus as the “bad guy;” Isaiah recognized that he himself was sinful, and the King was the holy and righteous judge. Isaiah knew he was helpless and he knew he deserved to be helpless, though he was still terrified. Isaiah knew he ought to die because of his sin and especially in the presence of the King.
That King whom caused Isaiah to feel helpless, this Lord, this True God, this Jesus, is the same one we claim to celebrate on Christmas day.
“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. the zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.”
I wonder if you’re beginning to see why it should terrify people that Jesus has actually been born, been given in light of what we learn from Isaiah when he SAW this Given King, this Given Child, the Lord Jesus. If you have not yet been convinced about this, consider these further words from much later in Isaiah’s prophecy:
“’There is no peace for the wicked,’” says the Lord.” (Isaiah 48:22)
Are you wicked? You might not think so, especially compared to others. So, let’s ask some helpful questions of comparison:
Isaiah was a prophet of the Lord; one chosen by God to speak on behalf of God to the world. Isaiah was terrified, and you are not? Are you more righteous and holy than a prophet of God? Are you braver and more bold than a seraphim who doesn’t dare uncover his face or body in the presence of God?
Are you less sinful than the prophet of God who admitted he should die because of his own sin and because of the stains of sin on his life from the nation he lived in? Are you more holy than a perfect angel who worships Jesus Christ in fear and praise?
Do you understand that in order for you to claim the promises of Jesus, whom we ought to celebrate, praise, and worship because of His coming into the world, you must belong to Him?
If you do not belong to Him, you should be afraid. Like the prophet, you should cry out in despair: “Woe is me! For I am RUINED!”
“’There is no peace for the wicked,’” says the Lord.”
No peace. Jesus is the “Prince of Peace” according to the prophet Isaiah. So, unless you’re Holy there is no peace with God for you.
The entire chapter of Isaiah 53 describes what Jesus did for His people in His coming. When Jesus was born and when He lived on the Earth and when He died was for this purpose:
“Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Surely OUR griefs He Himself bore, and OUR sorrows He carried; yet WE ourselves esteemed HIM stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But HE was pierced through for OUR transgressions, HE was crushed for OUR iniquities; the chastening for OUR well-being fell upon HIM, and by HIS scourging WE are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of US ALL to fall on HIM. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.
By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death, because He had done NO violence, nor was there ANY deceit in His mouth.
But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities.
Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong; because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors.”
Has this King paid for your sins? Did He bear your griefs and sorrows? Was He pierced for your transgressions and crushed for iniquity? Was the chastening you deserve on Him in your place? Was He scourged for your spiritual healing? Was His suffering done in your place, or do you mock this King? Remember what Isaiah said of this King:
- Lofty and exalted
- “Holy, Holy, Holy”
- “Lord of hosts” (hosts = Heaven’s armies of angels)
- His glory fills creation
- Perfect and holy angels fear and respect Him
- Holy prophets fall down in terror and expectant judgement before Him
Yet, this King became like us, a human being. He stepped down from His throne in Heaven and put on a human body. The omnipotent King humbled Himself to be like His creation which He made. He allowed Himself to become a tiny baby, helpless in every earthly sense, wholly dependant on other people to care for Him until He was grown. And yet, He never sinned. As Isaiah says, “He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth.” The Son of God submitted to God the Father and willingly walked to the crucifixion He did not deserve (He is not a criminal against God like you and I). He suffered because He chose to do so on our behalf.
Did He do these things for you? Do you desire that this work of this Holy King would be applied to unholy and un-royal you? If you hate your sins and understand the holy terror the prophet Isaiah felt, and if you desire to belong to this Righteous Lord, His hands are open to you. Even you. Even me! Even this sinful man! He saved me! He can save you from your sins and the judgement which all sinners deserve. He says He will save you if you will be saved:
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)
“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:37-38)
“I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” (John 8:12)
“I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.” (John 10:14-15)
“I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” (John 14:6-7)
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.” (John 15:5-6)
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
There is so much more to say. There is so much more for you if you receive the forgiveness of sins which Jesus Christ offers you. Allow yourself to feel the terror of the coming judgement which all sinners will receive if they do not receive Jesus Christ. When you feel the true weight of that sin, when you feel the doom which is due you, cry out to the Lord God to save you. He says He will save everyone who calls on His name in true faith, for salvation.
Do you desire to receive the salvation this Given Child, this Given King offers? If you do, Isaiah wrote this for you:
“‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord, ‘though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.’
‘If you consent and obey, you will eat the best of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.’
Truly, the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 1:18-20)
“Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near:
Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He WILL have compassion on him, and to our God, for He WILL abundantly pardon.” (Isaiah 55:6-7)
And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them:
“Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another:
“Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” (Luke 2:9-15)
May you know the Lord.