1 Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.
2 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.
3 Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
4 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. 5 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.
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, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
7 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 judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
This passage from Isaiah is one of the most majestic and awe- inspiring prophecies of the Messiah that may be found. In these simple words there is an overwhelming sense of celebration in the knowledge that God’s promise of a deliverer stood firm; that it would be not only the Jews whom He would deliver but even “the people that walked in darkness would see a great light.” With excitement that is unrestrained Isaiah joyfully recounts the titles that the Messiah would bear as He reclaimed His own from their bondage and established His kingdom; a kingdom which would last forever upon the throne of David.
We live in a special time in history. From our vantage point we are able to look back at the birth of Christ (imagine, the Son of God actually walking on this earth with us and getting His feet dusty upon our roads!) and see the wonder of His birth in its true context. Many who lived in the ages before Christ, as Luke writes in his gospel, longed to see the events that the disciples saw and that we may so regularly read about in the Bible:
Luke 10:21, 23-24
21 In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.
23 And he turned him unto his disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see: 24 For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.
We celebrate Christmas with great joy and thankfulness, knowing that because of Christ’s birth His death was (certain). Throughout the prophecies of the Messiah there is beneath the joy of His coming the undercurrent of His sacrifice. Put quite simply, Jesus came to die; His birth has no meaning if His death is removed. The words of a song convey this concept beautifully:
You came from heaven to earth to show the way;
From the earth to the cross my debt to pay;
From the cross to the grave, from the grave to the sky;
LORD I lift your name on high!
Easter is possible because Christmas happened; the promise of our salvation is fulfilled because the Son of God died our death, and rose again triumphantly from the grave to give us, His fallen creatures, victory over the curse of sin and death. His birth, ministry, death and resurrection are all glorious parts of a magnificent whole.
This is the wonder of Christmas: that God chose to send our deliverer to earth in the form of a baby. The offspring who would crush the serpent’s head, so long ago promised to Eve, is promised again in Isaiah as He who would be the light of the world, but He is given to us as a child! Against all the forces of evil arrayed against Him the Christ arrives among us as a newborn baby, and yet He is a King. He would grow and live His life as we do, but overcoming all trials and defeating all attempts by the prince of darkness, to become our perfect sacrifice and ultimately our King in glory, so that you and I, as we celebrate our own Christmas, may look forward to the promised inheritance that awaits us in glory…all because of the birth of a Child.