Isaiah chapter 8. The eighth chapter of Isaiah, and I would like to read as you follow, verses 19 through the 7th verse of chapter 9. Isaiah 8 beginning at verse 19. Isaiah is speaking here to the godly remnant of Israel. In verse 19 we read, “And when they shall say unto you, seek unto those who are mediums and unto wizards that peep and that mutter. Should not a people seek unto their god? Should they seek on behalf of the living to the dead? To the law, and to the testimony, if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. And they shall pass through it greatly distressed and hungry. And it shall come to pass that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves and curse their king and their god and look upward. And they shall look unto the earth and behold, trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish, and they shall be driven to darkness. Nevertheless, the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulon and the land of Naphtali. And afterward, did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea beyond the Jordan in Galilee of the nations. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light. They that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. Thou hast multiplied the nation and increased the joy. They rejoice before thee according to the joy in harvest and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor as in the day of Midian. For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise and garments rolled in blood, but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire. For unto us a child is born. Unto us a Son is given and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shelled be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end. Upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom to order it and to establish it with justice and with righteousness from henceforth, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”
Let’s bow together in prayer.
Father, we thank you again as we've heard the song glorifying our born savior, given of God to redeem men. How we rejoice. How we rejoice not only that Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem but that he has been born in us. Lord, we thank you for this and we pray now, as we look to the Word of God, that our minds and hearts might be open to see things that we've never seen before, that we might we taught of the Holy Spirit to live as we've never lived before. We give Christ all the praise and glory. Amen.
Will you turn in your Bible to the eighth chapter of Isaiah? Isaiah chapter 8 and then chapter 9 really details for us, perhaps, the most classis prophecy regarding the coming of Jesus Christ. And when you stop to consider a Christmas message, there are all different ways that you can go at it. But I felt that, perhaps, it would be worth our while to examine an Old Testament prophet’s view of the birth of the Messiah, Christ the Savior of the world.
As I began to look at the verses 6 and 7 of chapter 9 which detail for us the coming of this child, I became interested in what followed – or what preceded, I should say, those verses and became carefully involved in studying the previous chapters.
And I came up with a very interesting parallel to our own day. And the day in which Isaiah gave the pronouncement regarding the Messiah’s coming, the Savior’s birth, was much like our day. And the light that came out of the darkness of Isaiah’s day is the same light that we announce to a dark world today. In fact, Isaiah could well have been a Twentieth Century preacher, from what is the indication of these verses that we shall look at.
Now by way of introduction, let me just say this. We celebrate Christmas and the birth of Christ in a context of kind of merriment. But when you really look around the world there isn’t anything to be merry about. And even when you look at what goes on at Christmas, as I find each year I get sicker and sicker. And the things that I see about me, the money-mad, self-indulgence that goes on, and often in the name of Jesus Christ, does anything but bring glory to him.
In fact, as I've analyzed Christmas this year, I've come to the conclusion that in many cases, Jesus is the joke of Christmas. The devil-ordered, demon-controlled world is mocking Jesus. In Superstar Jesus is a pathetic tragedy who blows his cruel and gets crucified. In Godspell he is a frolicking clown with a red nose in a Superman tee-shirt. In Handyman stores, which are like hardware stores, the new gimmick is Jesus saves lightbulbs with the filament spelling out “Jesus saves.” A Christmas novelty. Sarcastic blasphemy.
Department stores in which I have been advertise and have hanging around Jesus Christ tee-shirts and sweatshirts with cartoon faces of Jesus drawn on them. And the point of the world is obvious, Satan’s not stupid. If he can make Jesus a fad, then when the fad goes, the real Jesus goes too.
One underwear manufacturer is advertising Jesus Christ jockey shorts for men and Jesus Christ bikini underwear for women. Even watchmakers have jumped onto the bandwagon, and the latest radio announcement goes like this. “Hi, kids. It’s me, Jesus. Look at what I’m wearing on my wrist. It’s a watch with a five-color picture of me on the dial and hands attached to my crimson heart.” Jesus has become a fad and fads pass. And don't you think the devil doesn’t know that.
The world isn’t honoring Jesus. They are mocking him. And at Christmas, when we talk of true honor, the mockery seems all the greater. The hypocrisy seems even more blatant and the sin of rejection more blasphemous. And the need for the real Jesus right here in the Twentieth Century America is just as great as it was in the day of Isaiah. Just as great as it’s ever been in the history of man.
The darkness of man’s heart hasn’t changed one wit. In fact, man has only become more clever in his devices and Satan has learned, as history has gone on, how best to dilute the person of Jesus Christ.
And yet, it’s a strange thing because all throughout the history of man, in his darkness and his unwillingness to respond to Jesus Christ, he has always wanted a Savior. He has always wanted a deliverer. Whether it’s historical Israel or whether it’s modern-day America and the world, everybody has always looked for a Savior, a deliverer, a peacemaker. Somebody who could right the wrongs and make the injustices just. Somebody who could equalize and make the world what it ought to be. And men have always cried for a Savior. Men from every culture. And God has sent a Savior but men refuse that Savior that God has sent.
And it’s a sad thing to realize that the Bethlehem babe was the world’s redeemer. But as the Bible says, “Men loved darkness rather than” – what – “than light because their deeds were evil.”
The Bible tells us that God sent the Savior at precisely the right time. Galatians chapter 4 tells us that “in the fullness of time God sent forth his son, made of a woman, made unto the law.” Exactly at the right moment in history, Jesus Christ was born. At the right conflux of events, at the right strategic point in the history of man, Jesus Christ arrived.
Isaiah predicted this. Looking to Isaiah chapter 49 for a moment, let me read you one verse. Verse 8. “Thus, saithe the Lord, in an acceptable time, have I heard thee and in a day of salvation have I helped thee. And I will preserve thee and give thee for a covenant of the people to establish the earth to a cause to inherit the desolate heritages.” Now, here he says in an acceptable time the Lord will act in behalf of Israel. God will send the deliverer and, indeed, God did send that deliverer in the acceptable time.
And Paul picks that up in Second Corinthians chapter 6 in verse 2 and says, “For he saithe I have heard thee in a time accepted and in the day of salvation have I helped thee. Behold, now is the accepted time. Behold now is the day of salvation.” And there he’s quoting from Isaiah 49 and applying it to today.
Isaiah said someday, at the right time, God will send a Savior. Ever since that Savior came, it has always been the right time to receive him and acknowledge him. Messiah Christ, the Savior of the world has been available to men every moment of every day since he arrived two thousand years ago, and yet men continue to reject him, continue to refuse him.
There’s no reason to wait. The evidence is monumental to verify who he is. And instead of receiving him, men mock him. And they take that one holiday of the year that is designated to celebrate his coming into the world and they turn it into a crass kind of sick materialism and make Jesus the joke of Christmas.
But don't you see friends, it’s in this kind of a dark, sick world that the announcement of Jesus Christ must continually and faithfully be given, even though the world will not receive. We know that John told us that “Jesus Christ was in the world and the world was made by him and the world knew him not. He came unto his own and his own received him not.” And yet for those few that received, God’s promise is true.
Now as we go back to Isaiah, keep in mind just kind of the scattered thoughts that I've given you because we're going to pick them all up as we look at this prophecy. It’s the same kind of a dark world. It’s the same kind of a God-mocking world like we live in, to which Isaiah promises by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that there is coming a great redeemer.
And in the prophecy beginning in chapter 8 verse 19 and running through chapter 7 of verse 9, we see four features that Isaiah points out having to do with the coming of this redeemer. We see, first of all, the pathetic scene which perfectly parallels our day. Then we see the promised salvation, the perfect Savior, and the peaceful sovereign.
Let’s look, first of all, at the pathetic scene that was extant in Isaiah’s time and then see if we can’t draw some parallels to our time today and the message of Christ to our world.
Now, as we come to this scene it’s in verse 19 through 22. And the passage is very important because it gives us the backdrop of Isaiah’s prophecy. I mean why did Isaiah stop and give this prophecy? What was going on in Israel that prompted this?
Well, the answer is that there was such darkness and such sin that it demanded the announcement of a Messiah redeemer for the sake of the godly who were there. Everything looked so black and so hopeless that the godly needed to be assured that God was still on the throne. And also, the ungodly needed to be assured that there was available light, that there was available salvation if they were willing to accept it. And so, we see a pathetic scene of sinfulness that parallels the day, not only the Jesus came, but the day in which we
Now, the scene is really portrayed for us in Second Kings chapter 16, although we’ll just refer to it. That’s the setting up which Isaiah bases the prophecy. Ahaz was the king and he was wicked, to say the least. He was rotten to the core. He had introduced idolatry into Israel. He had introduced the worship of a god, Moloch, who was the savage god of the Ammonites. And I mean he was a savage god. He had established the work of Moloch not – the worship of Moloch in the Mount of Olives which is the east of Jerusalem, in the Valley of Hinnom, a place near Tophet, which is right by the wall west of Jerusalem. So, the City of Jerusalem was surrounded with the worship of Moloch.
And on the location of Tophet, in the Valley of Hinnom, he erected the statute of this god and put a furnace at the feet of this god in order that they might throw children into the fire and burn them as offerings to this god. This is what was going on in Israel.
Superstition was everywhere. Gold and silver statues were worshiped in the homes of the children of Israel. Ahaz finally shut the temple door and barred it closed and left the whole temple to go to decay and waste. Under him, true worship was totally extinguished.
Now, you know, that if true worship is eliminated, Satan will be sure to bring in false worship and, naturally, that’s what happened. So, Isaiah moved into this scene and he warned Ahaz and he rebuked him and he offered him signs and he threatened him and he urged him to turn to God but Ahaz never would listen and he continued to go the way he was going and lead the people the same way.
And what resulted from this is so frightening because it’s exactly a parallel to our day. What resulted from this was the worship of demons. The worship of demons. Devils. Evil spirits. Now, let me give you a couple of points and then I want to move right into verse 19 and show you this.
Did you know that idolatry, mark this, is worshipping devils? Did you know that? Worshiping demons. When somebody worships an idol, it’s not just bowing down to that little thing, whatever it is – stone or gold or silver or wood. When a man or a woman commits himself to worship a false god, a demon will take over that false god and, in reality, he will be worshiping that demon.
What is it that traps people into false worship and holds them there? They can worship a stone god and they will find that that stone god will actually answer their requests, will actually operate in their life. Why? Because it is a demon that they are really worshiping, who is impersonating the god that they worship who doesn’t really exist anyway.
When an individual worships idol, he worships demons. Fallen angels. And that’s why they're hooked because those fallen angels can really function in their lives. And they can see strange and supernatural things happen as a result of worshiping a stone god. And it’s not too different today. We find in our world today an eerie, preoccupation with demon worship, with devils, with mediums, wizards and all these other things.
Now, let me show you how Paul verifies this same truth in First Corinthians chapter 10 in verse 14. Listen to it. He says, in verse 14 a most important statement, “Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry. Flee from it.” Why? very important. Verse 19. “That the idol is anything – or that which is offered and sacrificed to idols is anything” – listen – “But I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrificed a sacrifice to devils” – or demons – “and not to God, and I would not that ye should have fellowship with demons.” You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons.
Paul said flee idolatry because idolatry is sacrificing and worshiping demons. Devils. And throughout the Old Testament, every time a nation or Israel itself was involved in idolatry, it was nothing, more or less, than demon worship. Idols are demons.
Psalm 96:5 says, “For all the gods of the nations are idols.” Now watch that one. Psalm 96:5. Very important. “For all the gods of the nations are idols” and the word idols is translated in the Greek daimonia which is translated demons. All the gods of the nations are demons.
If a man is going to be foolish and have to worship some stone thing, or some false non-existent god, a demon will move right in on that and take over that man. And so, the Psalmist says, “All the gods of the nations are demons.” And that is a statement without exception.
All the gods the heathen worship are demons. In Leviticus, we see the same truth and I’m taking the time because I want to build on this point. In Leviticus 17, I think it’s verse 7, it says this. “And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils or demons after whom they have played the harlot.” You see, this is idolatry again as characterized in terms of devil worship, or demon worship. In Deuteronomy, for example, chapter 32 you have the same thing; a little more elucidated. Chapter 32 verse 16, “They provoked him to jealousy, with strange gods with abominations provoked they him to anger.” What kind of strange gods? They sacrificed unto demons – not to God. “To gods whom they knew not” – now listen to this – “to new gods who came newly up.” Who came newly up from where? From that lower world. They were literally worshiping demon spirits.
And he says, in verse 18, “Of the rock who begot thee, thou art unmindful and as forgotten God who formed thee. And when the Lord saw it he abhorred them because of the provoking of his sons and his daughters. And he said, ‘I will hide my face from them. I will see what their end shall be, for they are a very perverse generation, children in whom is no faith.’”
Here was a generation of people, again, who were worshiping demons. The Psalmist very carefully lays this out in Psalm 106. The same basic principle. He says this, beginning in verse 37. “Ye, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto demons.” That’s the worship of Moloch – burning their children. “And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and their daughters whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan and the land was polluted with blood. Thus, were they defiled with their own works and played the harlot in their doings.”
So, you see what happens in idolatry is simply demon worship. And may I hasten to say this? To worship anything but the true God is idolatry. Whether it’s money, whether it’s self, whatever it is. To worship anything but the true God is idolatry and is nothing less than worshiping demons.
Paul said, “The things which the Gentiles sacrificed, they sacrificed unto devils.” People say, “Well, you may not worship Christ. You may – but if you're sincere.” Well, that doesn’t mean anything. Sincerity is ridiculous. If I take a bottle of cyanide and drink it and say, “Well, I am sincere. I thought it was cough medicine,” that’s real nice. Only I’ll be dead whether I was sincere or not.
So, like today, Israel was fooling around with everything but God, and consequently, they were worshiping demons. That’s exactly what’s going on in our world today. They were fooling around with all that goes with demonism. Familiar spirits, séances, astrologies, horoscopes, seeking the supernatural in a fleshly manner, familiar spirits, mediums, wizards, magic, witchcraft, the whole bit.
And it is against this backdrop of blackness, of vileness, of sin, not only anti-God, but pro-satanic, you know? It is against this backdrop that Isaiah speaks of the glorious coming of the Child who is the Savior born into the world.
And friends, this is the message that we have to preach, too. Do you know that? We're not announcing this to a happy-go-lucky world that’s hanging somewhere in neutral. We're in the same kind of a black world preoccupied with demons and devil worship that Isaiah was in, and our message comes to them just as Isaiah’s did. That’s why I say Isaiah could well have been a twentieth century preacher.
Now with that in mind, look at verse 19 and listen to what Isaiah says about the people. “And when they shall say unto you” – and here he’s talking to the godly people about the ungodly who will approach them and try to hook them, the godly, in on this stuff – “And when they shall say unto you, ‘Seek unto those who are mediums’ - mediums are people who contact demons – “And unto wizards that peep and that mutter.’” Now, we’ll get to that. That’s very interesting.
“Should not a people seek unto their God? Should they seek on behalf of the living to the dead?” That’s necromancy. That’s trying to bring up the dead, you know, like Bishop Pike. He tried to bring his dead son who committed suicide. People who are trying to contact those who are dead. This is what was going on in Israel.
Now familiar spirits is the ob in Hebrew. And when it was translated into Greek – listen to this, it was translated engastrimuthos. And that word means ventriloquist. Did you get that? It means ventriloquist. And these familiar spirits and wizards and mediums are ventriloquists who peep and mutter.
Now what does it mean to peep and mutter? Well, it means that they can communicate in high tones and low sounds. Ventriloquist demons. These people in Israel were, actually communicating with devils. And lest you think that devils cannot speak, think again. They can peep and mutter in high tones and low tones. And the word used for the word familiar spirit is the word which translates ventriloquist.
Here was a preoccupation with the demon world. So, common in our world today. A perfect picture of the backdrop of our world to which we announce that a Savior is born.
Sometimes, you know, Christians can become so despondent and discouraged over what’s going on in the world, and the announcement of the Savior comes to us as security. But it also comes to those who do not know Jesus Christ as an answer, to the ache in their hearts, to the trap that Satan has led them into.
In our world, today the kingdom of darkness is expanding. Fantastic rise in crime, lust, deceit, moral depravity, suicide, war, homosexuality, fear, atheism, disease, psychotic disorders, mental illness, demonic oppression, possession, drug, alcohol addiction, all the rest of it. Along with Spiritism and the occult.
No less a person than Bishop Pike himself had televised a séance supposedly contacting his dead who committed suicide and the medium through which he contacted him was Arthur Ford who happens to be a disciple of Christ minister.
Suggested this year as ideal Christmas presents for your children and for adults are occult games such as Ouija Board, Clairvoyants, Horoscope, ESP, Mystic Eye, Cabala, and Voodoo, etc. And you've seen them in the toy store. There’s a preoccupation in our world with these dark things because men are in darkness.
And there’s a reason that men are in darkness and it’s in verse 20. Look at it. It opens with almost like a cheer. The first phrase there, if you take it in the original Hebrew, is kind of cheer. It’s not really a sentence. It’s three cheers for the law and the testimony. See? It’s like hooray for the law and the testimony. What happened to your cheers for God’s law? For God’s truth?
The problem is, you got into this mess because you forsook the truth of God. You're not saying this. Verse 20, “If they speak not, according to this word” – or this phrase – “three cheers for the law and the testimony.” See? If they're not living, on the basis, of upholding God’s law and God’s testimony, that’s the reason that they ran into all this problem.
To the law and to the testimony, if they speak not according to this word it is because there is no light in them. If a man will not recognize the truth of the Word of God, he’s in darkness and he is a dupe for Satan.
What happens to people who are in this situation? Look at verse 21 and this is again, perfect parallel for our day. “And they shall pass through it” – through the earth, evidently, he means – “Greatly distressed” – or through life – “Greatly distressed and hungry.” This is a picture of despair, isn’t it?
What happens when a person just puts God out of existence? Just wipes out God’s law and God’s testimony? When he removes revelation, what happens? Despair. Despair. Where does he turn? What means anything?
He says, “They shall be greatly distressed and hungry. And it shall come to pass that when they shall be hungry they shall fret themselves and curse their king and their god and look up.” You see, that’s the first thing men do. they’ve rejected God’s Savior. They've rejected God’s salvation. So, they're in total despair and instead of receiving God’s salvation they look up and they curse God. See?
Now what’s happened in our day? When America was founded, America was founded on the principles that were biblical. Pretty soon America got going its own way. We became preoccupied with ourselves. Pretty soon we just decided to wipe God out. And a few years ago, the great announcement was made by Time mag that God died and we have removed God from being in existence.
God is no more around. We have looked up, in recent years, and cursed God and now we're involved in cursing our leaders. That’s all part of our scene. They curse those who are over them. We've cursed God. We've removed God from our society and the only thing left is total, absolute despair.
The number ten song of our day on the Top Ten is called American Pie. And it’s sung by Don McClain. It’s a song of total despair. It’s a sick, sad, tragic comment on America today. In it he says this, he says, “Everything has gone wrong.” And he says, “I went to a church for reassurance but Father, Son, and Holy Ghost took the last train to the coast.”
So, he decided the only thing to do was kill himself so he says, “I drove my Chevy to the levy but even the levy was dry.” This is a comment on what happens to men when they remove God. And this is exactly what’s happened.
This is what had happened in Israel. They were infested with demons because they had x’d God out, you see. They looked up and they cursed God.
Now, after you're done looking up there’s only one other place to look. Where is that? Down. Now watch this, in verse 22. “And they shall look unto the earth.” Let me ask you a question. What’s the preoccupation of our people in America today? What one word is the little key word. Ecology. And where do they look? If you've eliminated God, where is there to look?
To the earth. And so, with no God, the only thing we can look at – we can stare at the crumbling earth and we can get all uptight because the grass is brown and the sky is brown and the flowers are brown and the trees are brown and everything is dying. Well, that isn’t all there is to life. Well, it is if you've wiped out God, my friend. That’s all there is.
Now, we live in a world that is preoccupied with devil worship and is moving right down to the domain of the devil himself, for he’s the prince of this world and is preoccupied with the earth. They have crossed God totally out and this is the backdrop against which we pronounce the coming of measure. The Christ of God.
No wonder the world mocks. No wonder the world laughs. No wonder Jesus is the joke of Christmas.
Men have cursed God. The only thing left to do is look at the earth. But look what they find. “They shall look unto the earth behold, trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish, and they shall be driven to darkness.” Ecology is the new god and don't you think the devil isn’t using it and manipulating it in any way he can to distract people from looking at the true God. Ecology has become a god.
But it’s empty. There aren't any answers. The ecologist today must be the most despairing man of all because there seems to be no end. No hope. Two hundred million gallons of garbage pumped into the Hudson River every day from every square mile of New York. That’s just one little part of the problem.
And if you want to get hung up in ecology, you're really going to get hung up. There’s no way out. God is dead. Earth is dying. Man is dying. He’s doomed. And like Isaiah’s world, everything is black. Where is the light? We stand up, we announce the light and men go on in darkness because they love darkness – what? Rather than light anyway.
It’s this black world that Isaiah speaks to and it’s this black world that I speak to this morning, and that you and I speak to as we announce Christ. Look at the message of promised salvation. We've seen the pathetic scene. Look at the promised salvation that Isaiah brings in chapter 9.
Here comes the promise, verse 1. And this verse is so messed up in the King James. It’s all tangled up and you can read it and not understand any of it to let me paraphrase it for you. And I’ll just give you the translation out of the New American Standard. “But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish.” Now, that’s better than, “Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation.” Wouldn't you say?
I never did figure out what that meant. “But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish.” Now, you see, he’s been say, “You're really in a mess. You're really in anguish. But there’s coming a time when the gloom will be over,” you see. There’s coming a time when the distress is going to end. There will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish. And Israel’s gloom is coming to a close.
What a wonderful prophecy. The picture of misery is going to dissolve and the light is going to break.
You know, it’s not too much different than the message we have to preach today, that even though the world may remain dark, the light of life and salvation can be lit in your life. Someday the world itself will be lit when Jesus comes back.
Alright. So, the promise comes that’s it’s not always going to be gloom. Now, watch the next part of the verse. “In earlier times, he treated the land of Naphtali and Zebulun with contempt. Now, here Isaiah’s kind of going historical on us. And he says, you see, you see, God treated Naphtali and Zebulun with contempt. He reacted to their sin with punishment. And I mean they really got it.
Tiglath Pilesir who was the monarch of Assyria, a little before this prophecy, had come in and just wiped out that area. And incidentally, that area is now known as upper and lower Galilee. That’s the area around the Sea of Galilee – Zebulun and Naphtali. And it’s referring to a specific spot in Israel, for a very specific reason. This is a tremendous prophecy and I want you to see what I mean.
Alright. He says, then, in this particular place God had brought punishment because of sin. And the Holy Spirit actually points out this one, little, tiny territory on the whole globe, this little area of Galilee. Why? Because it is in that little, tiny area of Galilee that the Day Star is going to rise. That the dawn is going to break.
Now notice the remainder of the verse. “Afterward, or later on, he shall make it glorious.” Make what glorious? That little place by the way of the sea on the other side of the Jordan in Galilee of the Gentiles, which is just another way to describe Zebulun and Naphtali. Now, watch what he’s doing. He’s saying it’s black and it’s tragic but God’s going to intervene and salvation is going to come. And whereas God had formerly treated a little area with contempt because of their sin, he is going to bring glory into that area.
You say, “Well, why in the world doesn’t he choose Jerusalem? Why does he choose Galilee to make this great pronouncement?” Well, in the first place, Galilee had just been through it and Galilee stood as a great example of God’s wrath. And so, by contrast, what also would stand is a great example of God’s mercy, you see.
Galilee had just been wiped out. In fact, the enemy had laughed at the massacre of Galilee because it had been so complete. And even 200 years before that they had been flattened and wiped out previously. So, they were a classic example of how God allows other nations to punish when they are in sin. And so, he says, for the example, for the illustration, he chooses Galilee. But there’s more to it than just that.
This is a classic example of how God’s wrath also ultimately can bring mercy. God says, then, at the area of Galilee by the little Sea of Galilee Tiberius, the little little lake, really, up there, that is going to be the place where the great salvation will come to begin with. The king will come to Galilee.
Now, this is a pretty astounding prophecy because nobody would have ever predicted the Messiah would arrive in Galilee. Galilee was the crummiest place of all. Even today, strange as it may seem, there’s very little settlement around the Sea of Galilee. A few kaputs and the little remains of Canaan and Nazareth and so forth that have been built up, and there’s a lot of Arab population. But, the Jewish people haven't really moved to colonize all around the Sea of Galilee.
There are some little spots there but it’s a tremendous place and could well be populated but it isn’t, because Galilee has always had kind of a bad taste. You know? And the reason it always had a bad taste is indicated at the end of verse 9. It’s even called Galilee – end of verse 1, excuse me. It’s even called “Galilee of” – what – “the nations.” Or the Gentiles.
You see, Galilee was a border province right next to Gentile country and it was thus populated by many Gentile groups. Because of that, the Jewish people had always despised Galilee. In fact, when Jesus arrived he spent 30 years plus of his life in Galilee, as Isaiah’s prophecy predicted he would. He fulfilled that to the very letter. And when he finally arrived in Jerusalem they all kind of said wow. I mean can anything good come out of that area, right?
This guy’s out of Galilee. Doesn’t the prophet say he’s supposed to come from Bethlehem? Well, little did they know that he had been born in Bethlehem and moved to Galilee, fulfilling the prophecy of Micah that he was born in Bethlehem, fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah that he comes from Galilee.
But the reason I believe that God had designed Galilee as that special place was to show, first of all, watch this, that the salvation promise was not institutional and it was not connected necessarily with temple worship. That it was the dawning of a new age. That Jesus Christ was coming and that a new body would be formed and a new temple would be built, which would be made out of flesh.
And I believe that though Jesus Christ fulfilled the prophecy, shall suddenly come to his temple, when he came and cleansed it, and shall fulfill the prophecy again in his return, when he arrives in Jerusalem at the time that he came uniquely to the area of Galilee, indicating that it was bigger than just a Jewish institution. That this was not simply the measure of Israel, but the Savior of the world. He designed to come to the Galilee of the Gentiles. He was to be the world’s Savior. He was for all men, not just the religious leaders in Israel. Not just the Jews, but for all men.
And thus, did he go to Galilee. This is kind of an open rejection, really, of the Jewish religion, as such, which was hypocrisy without reality.
Alright. So, that’s the promise. Notice verse 2. We're going to have to hurry here. “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light. They that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them, that the light shined.” What a wonderful contrast you see here. God’s prophet says it’s been dark, but the light will dawn. And the people who walk in a dark world will see the light.
Jesus Christ came into the world and the Bible says “He was the light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” John 1:9. The light has dawned but men have crawled back under the rock in a tragic rejection.
Now notice something, would you please? It has always been – now this is important – it has always been, throughout the entire history of man, throughout the Old Testament revelation, that God has revealed the light of the coming Savior against always the background of deep darkness. I don't know if you've noticed that. It always appears that way.
He has always chosen the Son to be the only blazing star in the dark sky. The prophecies that have concerning Messiah have come again and again against a pitch-black backdrop. For example, in Genesis chapter 3, Adam and Eve had sinned. And immediately after their sin the promise came, didn't it? The seed of the woman would come to bruise the serpent’s head.
It was true in Egypt. When Egypt was in the blackest kind of painful bondage, when things were going as badly as they could and there were horrible plagues everywhere, Messiah was then revealed as the beautiful Passover lamb. And the blood sprinkled on the doorpost and the lintel signified the salvation that would come for all who would believe and receive him.
In Isaiah, for example, chapter 28, verse 16, Isaiah gave the great prophecy of the coming of Messiah who would be the cornerstone. And the reason he did was because the foundation of Israel was rotted with sin. It’s always been that way.
In Jeremiah 23:5, Jeremiah said, “Behold, I will rise unto David a righteous branch.” And the reason he said it was because back in the first four verses of that chapter he had detailed the sick oppression and rotten sin of the leaders of Israel.
In Ezekiel, chapter 34 and 23 you have the same thing. Exactly. A prophecy of Messiah preceded by all the corruption and filth of Israel. In every case, when things hit rock bottom, when hypocrisy and demon worship were at their height, it is then that God proclaimed the announcement of Jesus Christ. And I’ll tell you, friends, it behooves us in this day to know that, doesn’t it?
Today is the day to announce that Christ has come into the world. That there is a light for the darkness of this day and the darkness of men’s hearts. The prophet said light will shine out of darkness, and it has. Jesus came as that light. In Matthew chapter 4 he claimed that he was the fulfillment of that prophecy in Matthew chapter 4 verse 12 it says, “And now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee.
And leaving Nazareth he came and dwelled in Capernaum which is upon the seacoast in the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali” – same area – now watch this – “He went there that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet saying the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. The people who sat in darkness saw a great light, and to them who sat in the region and shadow of death, light is sprung up.”
Jesus ministered in Galilee in direct fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah. And Galilee was dark. And our world is dark today and the light has dawned, and it’s up to you and me to bear the light to a dark world, and for men to respond.
Then in verses 3 to 5, which we won’t take the time to consider, Isaiah presents the Messianic kingdom. The coming king will ultimately bring a kingdom. Now, you know that as Messiah came, as Christ arrived, they refused him, so the kingdom was postponed. He came and he said, “Repent for the kingdom of Heaven is” – is what – “at hand.” But since they rejected the king, they forfeited the kingdom, so it was postponed.
So, read verses 3, 4 and 5, for they speak of the kingdom that is coming. I’ll just read through them without comment. “Thou has multiplied the nation and increased the joy.” That’s the kingdom, see? “They rejoiced before thee according to the joy at harvest and as men rejoiced when they divide the spoil. But thou hast broken the yoke of his burden and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor as in the day of Midian. For every battle of the warrior” – listen to it – it should be “For every boot of the warrior, in the tumult of battle and garments are rolled in blood, but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire.”
Kingdom is coming. Joy. Rejoicing, victory, and the end of all war. Peace. The Messiah’s kingdom which Israel forfeited but which is yet to come when he returns again. I call it Christmas Two. Only when Christmas Two comes, the world won’t have any opportunities to comment or to celebrate.
Now, as we come to verses 6 and 7, we come to the distinctiveness of the Messiah, the Savior of the world. And this is so familiar. I don't want to belabor the point this morning. Let us look at the perfect Savior. We've seen the pathetic scene. We've seen the promised salvation. Let’s look at the Savior who came and whom we announce to the dark world today, verse 6.
“For unto us a child is born. Unto us a Son is given. And the government shall be upon his shoulder and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” Those are unusual titles for a baby, aren't they? Here is the king. Here’s the perfected Savior. Now, I want to show you his perfections.
First of all, notice it says “a child is born.” That speaks of his humanity, doesn’t it? Jesus was a real human being. He was human. He was a man. The writer of Hebrews says he was as human as any man. He took upon himself flesh. Paul said, in Philippians 2, “He humbled himself and was found in fashion as a man.” The writer of Hebrews says, “He was in all points tempted like as we are yet without sin.” Because he was human and because he felt what we feel, and because he hurt where we hurt, he is able to succor us. He is able to be sympathetic with us and he’s a faithful and sympathetic High Priest.
He was a man and he had to be a man because he had to die in man’s place. He had to bear man’s sin. He had to feel man’s pain. He was a man. But more than just a man, notice the second phrase, “Unto us a Son is” – what’s the next word – not born what – “given.” Given by whom? By God. This is his deity. He was not only man, he was God. He was divine in human form. He had to be God, didn't he? He had to be man to bear man’s sin but he had to be God to defeat sin and defeat death.
Back in Isaiah chapter 7 and verse 14 Isaiah prophesied that he would be God. “Therefore, the Lord himself shall give you a sign” – Isaiah 7:14, listen – “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son.” Hum. Who said? “And shall call his name Emmanuel.” God with us. That’s what Emmanuel means.
Who was Jesus Christ? He was God with us. God in human form. Of him, God said, “Thou art my beloved” – what – “son.” He had to be God. He had to be man. This was no ordinary child. This is a virgin-born, Holy Spirit conceived Son of God. It is he who is the light in darkness. He is the hope shattering despair. This born child, this given Son, he is the perfect one of God. He’s the only hope for our dark world. But men don't know who the Bethlehem babe is. He’s the promise of the ages, the Holy One of Israel, the desire of nations, the king of peace, the light of history’s darkness, the fulfillment of every man’s hopes, the perfect Savior.
That child that men mock, that they laugh at, that they pay hypocritical homage to, that they keep in a manger, that they use as a gimmick to make money, that child is the Son of God. His perfections are indicated by his names, and you know them.
Look at them. Wonderful Counselor. And those two should go together. A wonder of a counselor. Men today search for wisdom. They search for answers. They search for the meaning of life. They search for solutions to their problems. They go to psychologists, psychiatrics, analysts, counselors. They read books. They try everything. They seek demons. They never get any help. And the Word of God says, “Are you looking for a wonderful counselor? I offer you Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the perfect counselor.”
You see as God, he knows everything. Wouldn't you like to have a counselor that knew everything? You do. He knows all about you. He knows all the needs of your heart. He knows how to answer those needs. He knows what’s best for you. He knows how to solve your problems. He gives you wise counsel. He’s not like Satan; he never lies and he never plays nondirective technique games. He gives you straight stuff. He knows what you need.
“And a wayfaring man, tho he be a fool, need not error.” Jesus Christ is a wonder of a counselor. But you know, there’s got to be more to it than just that too. It’s nice to have a counselor. I mean to have one who’s constantly faithful, never leaves you, never forsakes. He’s there all the time counseling you every waking moment of every day.
But more than just a counselor, you need some energy. And that, you see, in the second name. He’s also the Mighty God. He can not only tell you what to do but he can energize you to do it. Isn’t that great? You know, I think one of the most amazing things in counseling is that people come to you and they say, “Here’s my problem, John.” And they go on and on about their problem. So, what do I say, “Now, let me tell you the solution.” And then they go out and never do it.
I think of all the people I've counseled, I can count on one hand those that have done what I suggested would be the things they should do. People don't ever do it. Usually people want you to tell them to do what they want to do. They want to get confirmed in what they're doing. But that’s not how it is with Christ. He not only shows you what to do, but he energizes you to do it, you see? What a tremendous, tremendous Savior he is.
Counsel can only go so far. It stops at the point of power and that’s where the Mighty God comes in. He not only counsels us but he has full, divine power to act on our behalf. Resurrection power. Creative power. This born child, this given Son, God’s unspeakable gift is given to us to express his power. He is capable of defeating sin, destroying Satan, killing death, snatching men out of Hell, healing, raising the dead, answering prayer. Someday returning in full expression of his power. He is capable of redeeming man of subduing the earth and all of its kingdoms and reigning as king of kings and lord of lords. He is power beyond power.
And all that power is moved in behalf of you and me who love him and know him. And so, to a black world and the black hearts of men, without God we announce that there is a Savior. There is a child who was born. Not just a baby stuck on the front of a postcard. Not just a gimmick, but the living, Son of God who is a faithful and wonderful counselor and who is a Mighty God.
The third thing it says about him, and this is beautiful. He is the Everlasting Father. And we're skipping a lot of things for time’s sake. The Everlasting Father. The Father of eternity, in the Hebrew. He is both a son and a father. He is a child in time but in eternity he is the Father. He is a child of time and the Father of timelessness. Jesus Christ fathered eternity. Is that a heavy thought? He fathered eternity. He fathers eternal life for all who believe and that’s the main import of what Isaiah is saying.
He is to you and to me who love him and receive him, the source of everlasting life, you see? “Whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have” – what – “everlasting life.” This is no ordinary babe. He holds eternity in his hand. From everlasting to everlasting, he is God. His tender child, this gentle babe is the father of eternity.
Fourthly, he is called the Prince of Peace, and his kingdom is peace. He came to bring peace three ways. Number one, he gives peace between a man and God. When you come to Jesus Christ the war is over. The rebellion has ended. You're at peace with God. Romans 5.
Secondly, he puts peace in your heart, an inner rest. Philippians 4. “Peace that passes” – what “understanding.” The third thing, he comes again someday to bring a kingdom of peace where he will reign as prince and king.
He is, Paul says in Ephesians 2:14, “He is our peace.” This is what men want. Here it is. It’s all here. What do men want? They want wise counsel. They want the power to overcome and be victorious. They want eternal life. They want to know there’s life beyond the grave and they want peace in their hearts.
It’s no accident that his names fulfill every desire of man. He is the desire of nations. He is the Wonderful Counselor that you need in every trial of life. He is the Mighty God who can take you out and snatch you out of every trial and make it victory. He is the Father of eternity who gives to you eternal life. He is the Prince of Peace who not only plants peace within your heart, but makes peace between you and God and shall be with you and bring you to reign with him in a kingdom of peace.
This is that child. This is that babe. The perfect Savior. And then, lastly, he is the peaceful sovereign and that’s in verse 7. Really verse 6 includes it when it says, “The government shall be upon his shoulder.” That means the government of the earth, not the government of your life. That’s the final kingdom of Messiah. The peaceful sovereign. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end. The eternal kingdom of peace.
Upon the throne of David, he has the right to rule. He is David’s heir. And upon his kingdom to order it, to establish it with justice and righteousness from henceforth, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
People always say, “When is the world going to be equalized? When are the justices going to be meted out the way they ought to be? When are we going to get our due?” There’s coming a kingdom and Jesus Christ will reign in justice and righteousness.
A king is coming. He has the right to rule. He came once and offered his kingdom and men nailed him to a cross, but he’ll be back. He’ll be back to bring his kingdom. It won’t be offered next time. It’ll be brought and established in the earth.
You say, “I’d like to be a part of that kingdom.” Only those who know and love him will be. Let me close with just picking out two words out of verse 6 that are repeated twice. Unto us. Unto us. “For unto us a child is born. Unto us a Son is given.” Who’s the us? To whom is this child given? To everybody? No. unto us who believe.
Isaiah was speaking to the godly remnant in Israel. There is no Savior. There is no hope. There is no peace. There is no everlasting life. There is no mighty power and there is no wise counsel for those who do not receive and believe in Jesus Christ. So, against the darkness of this world we offer you what Isaiah offered, only it’s not in the future. It’s in the present. The Savior is born. Receive him and all that he offers to you.
Father, we thank you that we've been able to look into this passage. We thank you for Jesus Christ and the reality of his life and work, what he does and means to us. Father, we do realize that he fulfills the prophecies of the Old Testament, that he fulfills the hunger, of the despair of every man’s heart. Father, we look at our world and we just are sickened at the lost ness of men who have eliminated God and are looking to the earth and find it just as empty and just as despairing.
Father, somehow, at this time, against this blackness, help us to present the glorious, shining light of Jesus Christ. And may there be some here and there chosen by you who shall come to know Jesus Christ in the fullest sense, to step out of the darkness of this world into the light, to your kingdom of light.
As we close, speak to us, Father, that each of us may respond, first of all, if we do not know Christ, to receive him as Savior. Secondly, if we do, to a new commitment to share Christ with the dark world about us. In Jesus name, we pray, amen.
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