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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Unto Us a Child Is Given, Part 2, The Child

All Scripture quotes are from the New King James Version, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1984. Whenever LORD is all caps, the actual Hebrew is the name of God, usually pronounced and spelled Yahweh or Jehovah in English. When written Lord, the word is Adonai, meaning Lord, our Lord, or my Lord.

"Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy will calm the storm with His hand?
Did you know that your Baby boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little Baby you kissed the face of God?"   Lyrics by Clay Aiken  

I highly recommend reading Part 1 before proceeding to this post. In that post, we reviewed the groundwork leading up to the amazing Isaianic prophecy in Isaiah 9 of the Old Testament. We saw that in the late 8th century BC, King Pekah of northern Israel conspired with King Rezin of neighboring Syria to attack King Ahaz of Judah. In fact, the Syrian troops were gathering in central Israel, referred to as Ephraim. This intelligence put all of Judah into a panic. The prophet Isaiah met King Ahaz on the road and spoke of a young woman, a virgin?, who would give birth to a son. She would name the child Immanuel, meaning “God is with us”, to reflect Yahweh’s supernatural protection for Judah in very dangerous times. The father, Isaiah, who either sired or adopted the child, would name him Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz [Speed-the-Spoil, Hasten-the-Booty] to warn of northern Israel’s fate at the hands of the Assyrians. The LORD assured Isaiah that the conspiracy between Pekah and Rezin would collapse. Judah would be safe, but only for a while. The misery inflicted by Assyria upon all lands would also harm Judah. Life would be lean and fear would be a daily scourge.

We noted the ambiguity as to the identity of the mother. The name Immanuel appears three times in chapters 7 and 8, always signifying that God is still with Judah in spite of her wicked, unbelieving sovereign. Chapter 8 is a litany of the difficult times just ahead for the whole Levant. There is a diatribe against those leaders who turn to spiritism, mediums, and the occult rather than to Yahweh for help. For the advanced Bible student, the language is intriguingly rich in spiritual and earthly death images. There is also an emphasis on the spiritual night of those who turn to false deities. They will find only cursing, despair, and darkness.

To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn (8:20, New American Standard Version).

The theme of Israel’s destiny carries forward seamlessly in chapter 9, but with a major reversal of circumstances. Light shines onto the ravaged land! A glance at a map will help explain the text.

From the Holman Bible Atlas

The northern lands all around the Sea of Galilee lay in spiritual darkness for a good 700 years. The Assyrians killed many when they invaded. They took the rest into captivity into upper Tigris-Euphrates Valley. They then replaced them with their own citizens or other conquered people. Northern Israel was still populated by Gentiles when Jesus Christ was born. Isaiah saw in the Spirit that the regions where Gentiles would soon dwell would be renewed! Instead of enemy boots, humiliation, and oppression, there will be revival and light. Darkness will turn to dawn.  

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined. (Isa. 9:2]

The nation will rejoice as at the time of a good harvest. It will be as if their armies have won a great battle as in days of old and are dividing the spoil amongst the weary soldiers. The rod of the oppressor will be lifted. “For every warrior’s sandal from the noisy battle, and garments rolled in blood, will be used for burning and fuel of fire” (9:5).

The next verses are the apex of the three chapters. They tie together the verses about the birth of the Child. The real child in question is now presented to Israel. This Child cannot be Immanuel, as we will see, but Immanuel is a precursor of this Child, a sign of his coming and a sign of a miraculous conception.

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: And the government will be upon His shoulder (9:6a).

So the Child will be a man, born of woman, and a Sovereign ruler. His name and title is what is astonishing.

And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (9:6b).

This man, born of woman, will be God! How can that be? God is one, God is invisible, God is spirit. How can God be held by an earthly mother? How can The Eternal One have a beginning? And yet so many of the wonderful attributes of God are accredited to this Child. He is the Father. He is a Son. He is Eternal. Wonderful was the name of the Angel in Gideon’s day (Judges 13:18). Counselor reminds us of the Spirit of Yahweh encountered throughout the Old Testament. There is a Trinity of Godhood suggested in this passage. It is clear that the eighth century child Immanuel cannot qualify to be this Child, yet the idea of a child ‘given,’ who promises peace and protection, connects the two irrevocably. The first child was a sign. The second Child is the fulfillment of the sign.

The first child could only hope for peace. The second Child is the Prince of Peace. Jihad in his Kingdom is forbidden. The religious wars between Catholics and Protestants and between the different Protestant sects were never ordained by God.

Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform it (9:7).

God Himself, not man, formulated this plan. What is described is a man born of a virgin. He is a descendant of King David; The second Child would be King of all Israel; His reign would never end. He would walk this earth, but He would be God and King. Although He came to earth to dwell with mankind for a while, His Kingdom cannot be of earth because it is eternal and perfect in justice. This King will not fall like Solomon or fail like David.

Jesus Christ was born of a virgin. His mother was instructed to name him Yeshua, meaning Salvation. As a descendant of King David, He was the proper lineage to inherit Israel’s throne. He fulfilled prophecy in that He never raised an army to overthrow the Romans (Isa. 42:3). He fulfilled other predictions when he healed the sick, made the deaf to hear, the lame to walk, the blind to see (Isa. 35:5-7). Yet more Scripture when His message was received by the Gentiles (Isa. 60:1-3) He raised the dead, walked on water, and stilled the storm. He cast a legion of demons out of a crazy lunatic. He also made it clear that His Kingdom is not of this world. His servants must not fight for it, because earthly weapons cannot defend a spiritual reality.

When Jesus died, He fulfilled yet more prophecy in that He died as the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world (Psalm 22 and Isa. 53). He rose again as the lion of Judah and Redeemer of all mankind.

But before all that took place, he was the little Child held by a young virginal mother named Mary. Why would the coming of Messiah be heralded with earthly events such as the birth of little Emmanuel so long ago? The short answer is that heavenly truths are intimately entwined with Earth and God's people. Jesus came here and walked on our roads, touched our children. God is love. He loves us. I wish you all a blessed Christmas.