Summary: This four-part Christmas series was designed to give comfort and hope during the dark Christmas season following 911.
[This sermon is contributed by Hal Seed of New Song Church in Oceanside, California and of www.PastorMentor.com. Hal is the author of numerous books including The God Questions and The Bible Questions. If you are interested in The Bible Questions Church-wide Campaign, please visit and watch Hal’s video at www.PastorMentor.com.]
(Joseph’s monologue’s last words = “God’s son born into a humble family to save the world… It is so illogical, so imperfect, so imprecise, so odd… so completely unexpected; so unlike the work of a carpenter… so much like the work of God.”)
…And that’s what we celebrate at Christmas, friends. Something completely unexpected: God’s son born into a humble family to save the world.
If you’ve just joined us this morning, last week we began a series covering one of the most famous descriptions of Christmas in all of history as we began a look at the famous words from Handel’s Messiah taken from Isaiah 9. – Would you turn there, please? [Turn to Isaiah 9, p. 683] And just to build community and make sure everyone has a Bible, if you’re sitting in front of a rack with Bibles in it, would you pass those out and make sure everyone in your row has one?
Last week we discovered that God was so excited about the gift He was going to send on Christmas that he started telling people about it 700 years before it happened. That’s when Isaiah was written, 700 BC.
Last week we also started a tradition, which is that, since everyone always stands while these words are sung in Handel’s Messiah, that we would all stand while they’re read. So let’s all rise as I read Isaiah 9:1-7.
Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan – Isaiah 9:1
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
On those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy;
They rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder. – Isaiah 9:2-3
For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them,
The bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor.
Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. – Isaiah 9:4-5
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
And the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6
Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom,
Establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness
From that time on and forever. – Isaiah 9:7
Have a seat. And keep this passage open on your laps for a minute.
In 700 BC, the people of Israel were facing hostile enemies to their east. The nation of Assyria, or modern day Iraq, was raiding and conquering and causing all sorts of terror, particularly on Israel’s north and eastern borders. That’s how the lands of Zebulun and Naphtali were “humbled.” They were the northeastern states of the union of Israel, and they were being terrorized by their enemies.
God knew how they were feeling, so he issued them a promise through one of His most respected spokesmen: the prophet Isaiah.
God says, “Don’t be afraid. Have courage, have joy. One of these days you are going to feel as happy as you do on pay day (that’s what the day of harvest was for them. Pay day.) You’re going to feel as relieved and joyful as you did on the day World War II ended. (That’s what “The day of Midian’s Defeat” was like for them. The outcome of their war against Midian was uncertain until God brought about a huge victory.”
And then God says, “And the way you’re going to get that relief and joy is from an action you would never have anticipated: I’m going to send a child to deliver you. A child who will lead you – the government will be on his shoulders. And if you want to know what this child will be like, I’ll tell you. He is going to be a wonderful counselor. (We talked about that last week. If you missed it, get the tape.) He is going to be a Mighty God, an Everlasting Father, and a Prince of Peace.”