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To Us A Son Is Given
[Isaiah 9:2-7] River of Life (Christmas Day)
Every other year, the blitz begins anew.
Ever other year, we're flooded with ads for political offices in our state and nation.
And every other year, they strike a similar tone and message.
The incumbent will tell us about the great things they’ve done and how they opposed the bad guys.
Then warn you about their challenger.
Their inexperience.
Their lack of a plan, or qualifications or character.
They say: You know where I stand.
Can you really trust the other candidate?
The challenger won't back down, though.
They'll highlight moments when the incumbent sided with the bad guys.
Times when they have failed their constituents.
They'll challenge the incumbent’s results, the repercussions of their decisions, and how much they actually care about you.
You know where you stand today.
Why do you think that the incumbent is going to do any better in the future?
And then, we decide.
It’s unlikely we actually like or trust either of the candidates, but when we cast our ballots we make a choice.
Most times, we cannot understand the full set of responsibilities of the office.
Why am I being expected to know which appellate judges to retain or who should serve as state mine inspector?
How can I know for certain who to trust on the corporation commission?
Then, 18 months later, or sometimes sooner, the blitz begins again.
It’s hard not to grow disenchanted with our political process and product.
Each year, it’s the same thing repackaged in a different way.
Each year, we have issues and problems that someone promises to address, to fight for, or to solve.
And they don’t.
Not because they’re all liars.
But because even the best of them is still limited.
They have limited power, limited expertise, & limited abilities.
A flawed human.
If the American democratic process has taught us anything, it is that having a voice in who leads you doesn’t mean that the issues will be dealt with and the problems fixed.
It’s hard—nearly impossible even—to find anyone who can and will do everything they promise.
I suppose that frustration and disappointment helps us understand the people of Israel in Isaiah’s time.
They had a run of not so great leaders.
Even their pretty good kings were still flawed—like prosperous, but proud king Uzziah.
Most of their kings were foolish & self-indulgently wicked, like Rehoboam and Jeroboam, Ahab and Ahaz.
None of them, not even wise King Solomon, ever measured up to King David.
Yet, whenever a new king rose to power they were hopeful that he would be the one, a king like David, (1 Sm. 13:14) a man after the Lord’s own heart.
But Isaiah 9, reveals that this was not the case.
Again and again, the people of Israel were humbled.
They struggled.
They suffered.
Sometimes, they suffered because they had foolish and wicked leaders.
Sometimes, they suffered because they made foolish and wicked choices of their own.
They were geared up for battle, but not sure where to go, what to do, or even whom they'd be fighting.
Can you relate?
How many times don’t we feel like we are at the mercy of those who don’t care about us or our values?
How many times don’t we make decisions that we come to regret, or we would criticize if someone else did the same?
How many times don’t we feel like we’re in a battle but we don’t know where to go, what to do, or exactly whom or what we are fighting against?
We are (Is.
9:2) people walking in the darkness of our own sinfulness.
We are fighting against a sinful world that despises everything God loves.
Our struggle is against Satan who concocts fine-sounding arguments that only leave us more lost and more humbled.
We are fighting against a sinful nature that only craves what is bad for us and for all those we say we love.
We are people (Is.
9:2) living in a land of deep darkness.
But look at what (Is.
9:7) the Lord Almighty has done.
He has given us a great light.
A reason to rejoice.
He has put an end to the warfare and made us into his joyful people.
How did he do this?
9:6) For to us a child is born.
To us a son is given.
The government will be on his shoulders.
9:7) Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.
It’s more than a campaign slogan.
It’s the promise God made and kept in Christ.
Christ the Lord whose birth we celebrate this morning is described with four different titles.
Each one makes a promise about what Jesus would be and do.
Each one has been fulfilled and is being sustained by the Son who is (Is.
9:7) reigning on David’s throne.
Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor.
The wonderful counselor is the king’s most trusted advisor in all matters.
He offers wise & wonderful guidance.
He develops strategies & helps navigate difficult situations.
He never lets little things slide.
Yet he never misses the forest for the trees.
So many wise words of Jesus come to mind.
Jesus understood our greatest problem was not one of outward uncleanliness, but a matter of the heart.
Jesus recognizes how quick we are to honor God with our lips and little more.
Yet, he loved us with his whole life.
And he has given us (Jn.
6:68) the words of eternal life.
Consider how he (Mt.
18:3) lauds the faith of little children and implores his people (Mt.
20:25) to seek to serve rather than to be served.
Jesus is our Wonderful Counselor.
Our King’s wisdom is unsurpassed.
Jesus is our Mighty God.
Of course, we think of his mighty displays in his healings, his casting out of demons, his ability to still storms, and to raise the dead.
These are all mighty acts that none other than God can do.
But God’s mightiness is chiefly demonstrated in battle.
He has routed Satan.
He has defeated and defanged death.
He is the unconquerable one and because of his might (Rom.
8:37) we are more than conquerors.
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