Christ our Present Hope part 2 | Isaiah 9:1–7 | Dr. David Harrell
Christ our Present Hope part 2
Dr. David Harrell | Bio
December, 19 2010
Christ our Present Hope part 2
Each transcript is a rough approximation of the message preached and may occasionally misstate certain portions of the sermon and even misspell certain words. It should in no way be considered an edited document ready for print. Moreover, as in any transcription of the spoken word, the full intention and passion of the speaker cannot be fully captured and will in no way reflect the same style of a written document.
There have been few examples of human and depravity that I have seen in my lifetime that would rival the sheer corruption that we see in our country today. The arrogance, deceit and self serving greed of our politicians are eclipsed only by their utter disregard to represent the people that they claim to represent.
Polls indicate that the vast majority of Americans today are disgusted with those currently in power and only a fool would not agree that our government has failed us.
The proof is in the pudding, as we might say. We look around today and we have a culture of entitlement and a government that takes from those who work and gives to those who won’t. We are running out of money in order to meet the demands of those people. Washington is doing all that it can to allow illegal aliens to enter into our country. Because of all of these things mixed together, our health care system is utterly overrun, running out of money, on the verge of collapse. Likewise our economy is in a disastrous situation. Our nation is basically bankrupt, yet because of greedy materialism we keep borrowing more money. What we don’t borrow we print. Unemployment is at about 10 percent. People would indicate that really underemployment is probably closer to 20 percent plus. Public schools are an absolute joke. Criminals, illegal aliens have more rights than citizens and on and on it goes.
But ultimately the corruption of a nation’s leaders merely reflect the corruption of its citizens.
Think about it. We live in a society where we teach our children that man has basically evolved randomly from inorganic matter, that we are merely the result of countless cosmic accidents rather than a divine Creator. We look around and we have a society that is clamoring for more rights for homosexuals. In fact, you probably heard the news. They defeated the don’t ask, don’t tell ban in our military and now the doors have been flung wide open for sodomites to be a part of our military.
Sadly, according to 1 Corinthians six these will be the same people that will never inherit the kingdom of God unless they repent.
As we look around we see that here is more laws protecting animals than unborn infants. Is it any wonder we have a government like we have? Moral degeneracy is the inevitable consequence of sin. And man, by nature, is inimical to God. He is hostile to God in every way and his hostility, frankly, knows no bounds. He has no fear of God and for this reason the apostle Paul tells us in Romans one verse 18:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.1
My friends, our country, indeed our world is in desperate need for a righteous ruler. But this has always been true down through history. So I take you back 700 years before Christ to ancient Judah and you will recall, as we studied last time, there are amazing parallels between the United States and ancient Judah. And because of their sin in chapter five of Isaiah we see God pronouncing judgment upon them, indicting them for six categories of wickedness: greedy materialism, drunken dissipation, defiant moral debauchery, that is, they flaunted their sin before God daring him to judge them. He judged them for redefining morality, calling evil good and good evil, for haughty humanism where all opinions are considered equal except God’s opinion and, finally, for corrupt leadership.
But may I remind you that it was out of the blackness of this moral chaos that God raised up his prophet Isaiah to warn the people, his covenant people, of two things. Number one, that judgment was coming. We studied that last week. But, secondly, that a child would be born, a child who ultimately would be both Savior and King.
By way of review you will recall that King Ahaz was afraid that Judah would fall to the northern tribes of Israel who had banded together, allied themselves with the Syrians against the growing threat of Assyria with Tiglath-pileser III. And in Isaiah seven we read that God offered Ahaz the king an opportunity to strengthen his faith by asking him to ask God for a sign. But, instead, Ahaz pretended to be humble. He feigned his humility and refused to do that, to ask God for a sign. And so God judged him. And because King Ahaz refused to choose a sign, the Lord chose one for him, one that would have implications far beyond the life of King Ahaz and the people of Judah in that day.
And in chapter seven and verse 14 of Isaiah we read about that sign.
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.”2
I will not go over all of that in detail as I did last week, but bear in mind that that prophecy pointed to both a near as well as a future fulfillment, one that ultimately pointed to the virgin birth of the Messiah as we are told in Matthew chapter one and verse 23. The title Immanuel was there applied to the Lord Jesus Christ, Immanuel, God with us.
So it was against this ancient spiritual blackness that God promised the light of salvation through a child that would be born. And to the believing remnant of that day, this would have been incredibly good news. It would have given them hope as it gives all of us hope. And now, over 2700 years later we can look back and see the partial fulfillment of these astounding prophecies. And we know that the rest will some day come to fruition as well.
And here in our text this morning in Isaiah nine verses six through seven we learn more about this child, a child whose birth is still celebrated in most places around the world today despite enormous efforts to prevent it. In fact, it seems like every Christmas season you see the hostility towards Christ and Christmas rising. Maybe that is just me, but it seems to be that way.
And here we learn more of these ancient truths surrounding the birth of Christ. And sadly, even for many Christians, many of these truths go unnoticed. In fact, many times you get Christmas cards that don’t even say Christmas anymore. They just say happy holidays. You look at the lights and the displays in people’s yards and very seldom will you see anything of a nativity scene, anything of Christ. It is all about Rudolph the red nosed reindeer and Santa Claus and Snoopy and [?], you know, those types of things.
Well, from this sacred text emerges three messages of hope that underscore the reality that Christ is our present hope
By way of review, we learned the last time that he is the promised light. Remember in verse two we read, “The people who walk in darkness...”3
In other words, those people that live out their lives in darkness, they do not fear God. Those people “Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them.”4
And we know that this was fulfilled when the Lord Jesus Christ appeared as that promised sign of salvation, the light of the world even though that light was veiled in human flesh. He was born in a manger... born in a cave, laid in a manger and he would later declare in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.”5
Christmas lights are a constant reminder of this light. Most people don’t realize that. But that is ultimately the history of the lights. And I want you to keep that in mind whenever you see them.
And how tragic it is to watch people who walk in darkness. We see them all around us.
I might add that Scripture uses the concept of darkness to symbolize spiritual ignorance, spiritual error, to symbolize wickedness and sin, to symbolize those who are hateful, those who are in deep anguish and gloom, those filled with sorrow and even sickness and anger.
In fact, in Proverbs chapter two and verse 13 we read, “Those who leave the paths of uprightness...walk in the ways of darkness.”6
They are people who live according to their flesh. They are ruled by their lusts.
In fact, the apostle Paul tells us in Galatians five that the deeds of the flesh which are ultimately deeds of darkness are things like immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing and so forth.
I was talking with a pastor this last week and I grieved with him because he said that that list that I had just read describes the majority of the people in his church.
I said, “My friend, you don’t have a church.”
And I tried to counsel with him and perhaps by God’s grace the Spirit of God will bring conviction.
When you see people whose lives are characterized by these kinds of things, know that they walk in darkness, not in light. They prefer the darkness rather than the light because their deeds are evil. Regardless of their profession of faith, these people live in darkness, that darkness that has presided over by the power of darkness. And they are ultimately doomed to outer darkness.
We are told in Ephesians chapter five beginning at verse eight that as believers we are to “Walk as children of light.”7
Isn’t that great? We are to:
Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.8
So if you are walking in his light, if you are living for the glory of God, if you are serving the Lord in humility and not your own selfish interests, then you will enjoy the light of his blessings, the joy of serving the Lord. Your life will bear the fruits of the Spirit, all of the love, the joy, the peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self control, because he dwells within you. He is your present hope. We are called to be blameless and harmless according to Philippians 2:15, “children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world.”9
And, of course, all of this is because of Christ, the child who was born who is our present hope.
So last week we looked at the fact that he is the promised light and this morning we want to look at the fact that he is also the perfect gift as well as the preeminent king.
Look again at Isaiah nine, the first part of the verse, verse six.
“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders.”10
Now will you notice that God reveals these amazing truths to Isaiah with no explanation as to the interval of time in which this will occur? He didn’t say, “In about 700 years this is going to happen.” Nor does he offer any measure of the span of time between when the child would be born and when the government will rest on his shoulders. In other words, any time between what we would know as the first advent and second advent that we are awaiting.
Now this is a common prophetic device that you must be aware of as you interpret Scripture. It is often known as prophetic foreshortening. It is where the prophet will reveal events, for example, A, B and Z with no idea of the time interval in between.
You see, the prophets looked ahead and they envisioned two advents of Christ like we would see two mountain peaks in the distance.
Very often if you are driving in an area where there is mountains you will see a range of mountains. You can definitely see this as you move towards Denver and suddenly you begin to see the Rocky Mountain range. And when you look at the mountains it looks like just a line of mountains. But many of those mountains are in the foreground and there is large valleys in between with another mountain in the background. Such is the case here.
Jesus, you might say, is the first peak, Jesus’ birth. And then there is a long valley of time in between and the time when the government will rest on his shoulders will be the second peak back in the distance.
So you must not think of this as some kind of a double meaning, but it is a partial, slash, final fulfillment. In other words, one will be a harbinger of the next even greater, more climactic event. And that is what we see here.
You see, from our perspective we can look back and see the time interval between valley one or between mountain one and mountain two. In fact, we are living in the valley right now. Ok?
So 700 years before Christ, shall we say, Isaiah saw two mountain peaks of precious hope. This is what God revealed to him. A child is going to be born. But some day he would rule from the throne of David in an everlasting kingdom.
Again, this was the sign of chapter seven verse 14.
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.”11
But, again, he didn’t tell him when. Now we know.
I would also add that we see other key Old Testament prophecies that were fulfilled at Christmas time. Let me give you.
Forty years after the Exodus about 1400 years before Christ the prophet Balaam made a prediction in Numbers 24 verse 17.
“A star shall come forth from Jacob.”12
A bkwk (ko-kawb’), a blazing forth of light “shall come forth from Jacob, And a scepter shall rise from Israel.”13
And we know that that was a reference to the Lord Jesus Christ.
In Deuteronomy 18 verse 15 we read, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you.”14
And in Acts three Peter reminds us that this was fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
And in Micah chapter five and verse two I might add that Micah was a contemporary of Isaiah. There we read that this child would be born in Bethlehem. And in Isaiah chapter 11 verses one through three we read that the Messiah would descend from Jesse who was David’s father and also that the Spirit of the Lord would rest upon him. And we know that this was fulfilled. In Matthew one we read the genealogical record. We see that the Lord Jesus came through that lineage, indeed, from Jesse and also in Matthew chapter three and verse 16 you will recall that when Jesus was baptized we read that the Spirit of God descended as a dove upon him. So there we see that fulfilled.
But it is sad. All of these prophecies, all of these amazing truths typically go unnoticed even by many Christians during the Christmas season. And hundreds more prophecies concerning Christ’s advent were predicted and precisely fulfilled. And yet very often this is met with indifference.
More proof that people are spiritually dead, that they have no capacity to grasp the truths of Scripture apart from becoming a new creature in Christ.
But now we come to the heart of my message to you this morning in verse six. Indeed, he is the promised light, but, secondly, will you notice that he is the perfect gift.
Now understand. Here the covenant making, the covenant keeping God of rebellious Israel is going to once again penetrate the darkness of death and he is going to dispel that with the light of life, a light which could never shine through those pitch black caverns of their human hearts. This is a place in their hearts that was so dark and so wicked even as we see today. And he is telling them here that a child must be born to us. A son must be given.
Now notice. It does not say that a child will be born from us. Nor does it say that we will produce from ourselves a son. It doesn’t say that.
You see, light cannot emanate from darkness. It can only emanate from the original source of light. And, indeed, he was born, but he was conceived by the Holy Ghost. He was God’s only begotten Son meaning he was unique. He was one of a kind. He was spawned from God the Father. He was of his very essence. He possessed his very nature.
“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us.”15
So please understand. The child was not made. He was not created. He already existed. Rather, he was given to us. He was begotten by the Father. And, yes, he was a child, but he was also the eternal Son. He was the Son of David, but more importantly, he was the Son of God.
You will recall Jesus told Nicodemus, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son.”16 The child to be born is a one of a kind son, that unique son, a son par excellence. Indeed, he was Immanuel, God with us.
But we also must realize that this gift of Christ was promised even before time began. Do you realize that? He was promised before anything was ever created by a God who cannot lie.
Paul tells us of this in Titus chapter one. In verse one he talks about how that we are chosen of God. And in verse two he says, “...in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago.”17 Literally before time began.
Think of this when you rejoice this Christmas season that all that you see with respect to the incarnation of Christ was decreed and set into motion before time even began.
In 2 Timothy one and verse nine the apostle Paul speaks of this again. He says, speaking of God’s own purpose and grace. And he says, “Granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity.”18
Again, the idea, before time began.
“But now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus.”19
And what was this purpose? Why did God do all of this? Well, there are many answers in Scripture. But certainly one is found in Ephesians chapter three and verse nine.
...to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things; in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the [catch it] eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord.20
What an amazing thought.
Dear friends, don’t you see this? The glory of his promised light, the glory of this perfect gift was all ordained by God in eternity past an d now brings glory to God through the Church as we manifest his glory. It is a staggering thought.
Beloved, here is the point. The preexistent Son of God was begotten by the Father in eternity past to come to earth as a child, the Son of God. And this was prophesied 700 years before it happened in Isaiah chapter nine and verse six.
Isn’t it amazing? Our God doesn’t just predict the future. He ordains it. And then he orchestrates all the variables in the world to accomplish that which he has decreed by the uninfluenced desire of his sovereign will. Isn’t that utterly inconceivable?
But beyond the miracle of divine sovereignty we must also ponder the miracle of the incarnation. I can’t explain it. The Son of God also becoming the Son of Man, fully God and fully man, begotten by the Father, conceived by the Holy Spirit. Here is where my mind reaches its limits of its ability to conceive. It is utterly beyond our imagination.
Spurgeon has so poignantly summarized what I struggle to say, quote, “The doctrine of the eternal affiliation of Christ is to be received as undoubted truth of our holy religion. But as to any explanation, no man should venture thereon. For it remaineth among the deep things of God, one of those solemn mysteries indeed into which the angels dare not look. Nor do they desire to pry into. A mystery which we must not attempt to fathom for it is utterly beyond the grasp of any finite being.”
And then he says this and I love this statement. “As well might a gnat seek to drink in the ocean as a finite creature to comprehend the eternal God.”
I get that.
And then he goes on to say, “Oh, a God whom we could understand would be no God. If we could grasp him, he could not be infinite. If we could understand him, then were he not divine,” end quote.
One of the things I love about the Christmas season is it gives me an opportunity to sit back and usually I have the Messiah playing in the background, to sit back and pensively reflect upon the incarnation of Christ and all that that means in my life, the life of my family, the hope that I have in him. And then to experience that sensation in my mind where it finally reaches its utter limits with respect to being able to fathom something.
You know that point? You kind of get there and all of the sudden there is nothing. There is no place else to go. And that is what we have here.
But notice what else is promised concerning the child that was born to us. It says in verse six that, “the government will rest on His shoulders.”21
Now obviously this has not happened yet. Oh, I wish it had, but it hasn’t and it certainly will. And when I again, when I think of what Christ has done coming here, becoming a man and yet being perfectly God and knowing what he is going to do and my mind reaches that outer limit where it just short circuits. I find myself saying with the apostle Paul at the end of Romans 11, remember that Great doxology. He says, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!”22
And, again, to think that in his sovereign purposes he has allowed Satan the usurper to be the God of this world, to rule this world’s system as the prince and the power of the air, knowing full well that he is going to come again some day and through a child that was born take back what was his and establish a glorious kingdom. The fulfillment of this verse can be found in numerous passages. One is in Psalm two verses eight and nine and in that text God the Father describes his Son’s kingship.
Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Thine inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron, Thou shalt shatter them like earthenware.23
I cannot wait until the King of glory rules the nations of the world.
You know, man can remove Christ from Christmas, but he cannot remove Christ from his throne.
Some day all of the wicked rulers endemic to political history will surrender to the righteous reign of the one that I love and serve. Jerusalem will be the capital of the world. Christ will rule from the throne of David.
The prophet Habakkuk tells us, “For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, As the waters cover the sea.”24
During the millennial kingdom the Lord Jesus Christ will enforce his will with a rod of righteousness. He will protect his sheep with a scepter of iron. We will rule with him.
We talked about this before. I am always tempted to go over it again because it is so exciting. But may I remind you just one text in Revelation two verse 26.
“And he who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end,”25 referring to us, to believers, “TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS.”26
And then speaking of Christ it says, “HE SHALL RULE THEM WITH A ROD OF IRON, AS THE VESSELS OF THE POTTER ARE BROKEN TO PIECES.”27
Dear Christian, as you look around and see how Christ is continually eviscerated from everything especially at Christmas, remember this promise, that he was given to us by God and that someday, someday the government will rest upon his shoulders.
And so, indeed, he is the perfect gift, therefore our present hope.
So we have seen his promised light and his perfect gift. Thirdly, will you notice he is also the preeminent king. And here is where we have four pairs of names that are used to describe him. He is the, “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, [and] Prince of Peace.”28
And here we see that each name really foreshadows his coming rule upon the earth in his millennial kingdom. And the first two names are really linked to the earlier name that was given, Immanuel, God with us. In other words, “Wonderful counselor and mighty God,” are linked to that. And the second two names denote the glorious conditions that he will eventually bring about upon the earth.
We will look just at the first two here this morning and the others the next time we are together.
First of all notice, “ And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor.”29
Literally in the Hebrew it is “wonder counselor” or it is a phrase that describes a supernatural counselor or one giving supernatural counsel.
This would have been great news to the believing remnant in ancient Judah, because think about it. They had heard a whole lot of bad counsel. They knew that their politicians, the counselors of the king had given him bad counsel. The king was giving bad counsel. They had false shepherds in the land that gave them bad counsel. So from their political leaders and their kings they were constantly receiving bad counsel.
King Ahaz, for example, was very clever, but he was not wise. And we know that a kingdom will rise and fall based upon the counsel of its king. And think about it. Certainly an everlasting kingdom would require the wisdom of an eternally omniscient and holy God.
So that is what we have. This child would be a supernatural counselor because he would be God incarnate.
This was the first hope of Zion that God gave though Isaiah a divine promise that would occur during the millennial restoration after the tribulation judgments and then when the Lord returns.
In Chapter one of Isaiah, verse 26, we have this promise.
“Then I will restore your judges as at the first, And your counselors as at the beginning; After that you will be called the city of righteousness, A faithful city.”30
And then after God speaks Isaiah goes on to prophesy in verse 27.
Zion will be redeemed with justice, And her repentant ones with righteousness. But transgressors and sinners will be crushed together, And those who forsake the LORD shall come to an end.31
Now, beloved, think about this when you think about Christ at Christmas, when you see that babe in the manger. One day that babe who was laid in that manger who grew up and eventually was crucified and raised from the dead will return as the absolute monarch over all of the earth. I mean just think of the implications of this. No more tyrants. No more puny little dictators with little man syndrome wearing funny hats trying to blow up the world. No more of that. It will all be gone. No more crooked politicians. No more activist judges.
Make it even more practical. No more Taliban. No more Al Quaida. No more Muslims, Buddhism, Hindus, whatever. Even this. This will get you. No more ACLU. One day all of these people, unless they repent, will bow their knees before the Lord Jesus Christ and they will confess with their tongues that he is Lord. That is the truth. All of those who have mocked him, well, they will by that time have experienced the manifestation of this next title of this child and that is he is mighty God, rwbg le (el ghib-bore’).
He is the warrior God, the champion, the mighty one. So think about it. What Isaiah is saying here is that this child who would be born, this Son who would be given to us, the one whose shoulders will one day bear the government of the world, he will be the warrior God. And he will really be the one, therefore, that fulfills the military references that you read in verses three through five of chapter nine.
He is the might God. He is, again, he is Immanuel, God with us. And when he returns he is going to liberate his covenant people from all of the bondage of their own sin and reconcile them unto himself as he has us. But he is also going to conquer all of their enemies which are also his enemies.
As the child we see his humanity, but as the mighty God we see his deity. We see his power. This will be the one who will one day come to rescue Israel. He will be the one to whom penitent Israel will someday turn. And this is the one who we in the Church age, to whom we have turned as well. He is not a mere child that lived and died, but one that is a resurrected Christ.
The tomb is empty, right? The tomb is empty. He is the second person of the triune godhead, omnipotent, all powerful, able to do all that he has desired able to accomplish all of his purposes.
The psalmist tells us in Psalm 24:8, now this is a a call to worship.
He says, “Who is the King of glory?”32
And the people would respond, “The LORD strong and might, The LORD mighty in battle.”33
That is this child, the child of Christmas.
Now these first two names, once again, foreshadow his coming rule as the Messiah. He is going to be the warrior king with this supernatural wisdom to counsel his people in this everlasting kingdom. We know, again, that this will be a kingdom that will last 1000 years upon a renovated earth. It will be returned to edenic splendor and that millennial kingdom, then, will be a bridge that bridges human history to the eternal state where you will have not a renovated heaven and earth, but a recreated heaven and earth, a new heaven and a new earth.
But, dear friends, I want to remind you of something very important as we think about Jesus as the wonderful counselor, mighty God and we think of him as this child in this manger.
Bear in mind that these titles are not just descriptive of his Second Coming, but also of his first. You see, he was not merely a helpless little babe in the manger. Many Christians misunderstand this because, I believe, many Christians misunderstand the meaning of what Paul was saying in Philippians 2:7 with respect to Jesus and how he emptied himself.
Many times believers wrongly assume that when Jesus came to earth he abandoned or he, shall we say, discarded all of his divine attributes when he took on humanity, that as a baby he was no longer omnipotent, no longer omniscient. He was no longer omnipresent, that he had no capacity as that babe in the manger to be the wonderful counselor, to be the mighty warrior God that could defeat any enemy.
But, beloved, that is not true. That is not true.
Do you realize that even as an embryo in Mary’s womb Jesus was still sustaining the universe that he created?
In Hebrews chapter one and verse three we read:
“And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.”34
Beloved, there has never been a time when Jesus ceased doing this. Because there has never been a time when he ceased being God.
In Colossians 1:19 we read, “For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him.”35
You see, Jesus never became a partial God.
What Paul was saying in Philippians 2:7 regarding this admittedly inscrutable mystery of the incarnation of Christ is that Jesus made himself nothing.
I like the way the ESV puts it. “He made himself nothing.” This is the kenosis, the emptying which can rightly be translated he emptied himself.
But, beloved, please understand this. This is not an emptying in the sense of discarding his divine attributes. But rather a voluntary refusal to display or access his divine attribute. It is the idea of self renunciation or self surrender, not abandonment. He did not discard his deity, nor did he exchange his deity for humanity. But rather he willingly gave them up for a while on earth.
I like he way the ESV puts it Philippians two begging at verse six. It reads this way.
Though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.36
You see, Paul understood this inconceivable selfless sacrifice of Christ. Even as a tiny babe in the manger he had the full force of divinity at his disposal.
To put it very practically, they are riding along with his mother, they are on the little donkey. Dad comes back, “Sorry, honey, there is no room in the inn.”
Well, at that point Jesus could have said, “We need a palace. Bam. There it is.”
He chose not to do that.
He finds out later on Herod is searching for him, going to try to kill him. Jesus could have instantly just thought a concept, I don’t know. I am going to turn Herod into a wiener dog and let the hyenas eat him. I mean, he could have done that. He chose not to.
Again, my point here is what staggering humility. The only time he ever accessed his divine power was to minister to the needs of others.
Do you remember when Peter got all bent out of shape in the garden? He had this outburst of anger and he grabbed the sword of Malchus who was the servant there of the high priest and he takes the sword and he tries to cut off his head and obviously the servant ducked and all he got was his ear.
And we read in Matthew 26 verse 52. “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?”37
In other words, “Do you think that I am not fully God here?”
He goes on to say, “How then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen this way?”38
What amazing love and condescension? To think that he renounced all of his glory, that he set aside all of his privileges, that he chose to move away from the joy of his face to face relationship and communion with the Father and the Spirit, that he would come to earth so that he would do the will of the Father, that he would suffer and that he would die so that we could be reconciled to him by grace through faith.
I marvel at this. The one who could create loaves and fishes went hungry. The one who created wine out of water would later hang upon the cross and say, “I am thirsty.” The one who said that he keeps Israel and he never slumbers nor sleeps in Psalm 121 would be exhausted and sleep on a boat during a fierce storm.
And then even with that fierce storm raging all around him he calmed it by a word and yet he willingly hung upon a tree. Staggering.
Why was the one who was the eternal Word feed upon his mother’s breast and be unable to speak? They answer? Because he chose to.
Dear friends, this is the Christ of Christmas. This is Immanuel, the one who was and who is and who will be the wonderful counselor, the mighty God. Again, for this reason he is Christ, our present hope. He is the one who is preeminent over creation. He is the one who is preeminent over redemption.
In Colossians one verse 15 the apostle Paul says, “He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation.”39
The prwtotokov (pro-tot-ok’-os) the preeminent one, the superior one. And he goes on to say.
“For by him...”40
Now catch this now. This is baby Jesus in the manger, all right?
For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.41
Even when he was an embryo in his mother’s womb.
And though he is the Creator and the Sustainer and the Consummator of all things, isn’t it amazing that at his incarnation that he became a helpless infant by choice, born in a cave, laid in a manger, nourished at his mother’s breast and yet the one whose presence fills the universe that he created is now contained in this tiny little baby. The sovereign ruler of the universe became willingly the disputed son of Joseph. How could we possibly plumb the depths of such condescension? It is a mystery of mysteries, isn’t it, to think that he would later stand silent before his mockers, that he would suffer on a cross and bear the full fury of the Father’s wrath to satisfy his holy justice so that your sin and my sin could be cancelled out. What matchless love.
Then to conquer death, to rise from the grave, ascend to the right hand of the Father where he now intercedes on my behalf and your behalf to make us partakers of the divine nature. We are joint heirs with Jesus. It just begs language.
Well, dear friends, as Isaiah promised, he was and he is and he will forever be the promised light, the perfect gift, the preeminent king.
“Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,”42 and as we will learn next week, also eternal Father and Prince of Peace. This is Christ our present hope.
He is all we have and he is all we need.
Let’s pray together.
Father, thank you for these eternal truths. May they find a place of preeminence in our hearts that because of them we might live them out and, thus, bring glory to you. Lord, again, I pray for anyone within in the sound of my voice who has never bowed the knee to Christ, who has never confessed him as Savior and Lord. I pray that you will make them miserable until they do. And, Lord, I pray that today they might experience that magnificent miracle of the new birth and enjoy all of the blessings that we have discussed here today.
We thank you and we praise you in Jesus’ name. Amen.
1 Romans 1:18-19.
2 Isaiah 7:14.
3 Isaiah 9:2.
5 John 8:12.
6 Proverbs 2:13.
7 Ephesians 5:8.
8 Ephesians 5:8-11.
9 Philippians 2:15.
10 Isaiah 9:6.
11 Isaiah 7:14.
12 Numbers 24:14.
14 Deuteronomy 18:15.
15 Isaiah 9:6.
16 John 3:16.
17 Titus 1:2.
18 2 Timothy 1:9.
20 Ephesians 3:9-11.
21 Isaiah 9:6.
22 Romans 11:33.
23 Psalm 2:8-9.
24 Habakkuk 2:14.
25 Revelation 2:26.
27 Revelation 2:27.
28 Isaiah 9:6.
30 Isaiah 1:26.
31 Isaiah 1:27-28.
32 Psalm 24:8.
34 Hebrews 1:3.
35 Colossians 1:19.
36 Philippians 2:6-8.
37 Matthew 26:52-53.
38 Matthew 26:54.
39 Colossians 1:15.
40 Colossians 1:16.
41 Colossians 1:16-17.
42 Isaiah 9:6.