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, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6 (KJV)
Dear God, it’s interesting to take these verses out of context and read them knowing what we know now as opposed to how the people (maybe even Isaiah) interpreted them when they were written. Here are verses 1-5, leading up to this verse:
Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory.
2 The people who walk in darkness
will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness,
a light will shine.
3 You will enlarge the nation of Israel,
and its people will rejoice.
They will rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest
and like warriors dividing the plunder.
4 For you will break the yoke of their slavery
and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders.
You will break the oppressor’s rod,
just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian.
5 The boots of the warrior
and the uniforms bloodstained by war
will all be burned.
They will be fuel for the fire.
Isaiah 9:1-5 (NLT)
I went to verse 6 this morning because I was thinking about it after hearing it in the performance of Handel’s Messiah which I saw last week. He took one verse and made a beautiful song out of it. A current Christmas classic nearly 300 years later. And it’s easy to see Jesus and the fallout from his arrival in that verse. But verses 1-5. How do we lay those on Jesus? In real time, I’m sure they read them as freedom from whatever oppressor was over them at the time (which turned out to be Rome). But I think, looking back, this probably had more to do with the unseen oppressor that tends to get us all.
The part about the people seeing a great light and you enlarging the nation of Israel. They thought that meant military victory and border expansion. I know now that you meant me. I’m now part of your people because the child was born.
The part about you freeing from slavery and breaking the oppressors rod was probably, once again, seen as a leader overthrowing a physical oppressor. What Jesus ended up doing was overthrowing Satan and freeing me from his power.
So what does this have to do with today? Well, there are a lot of moving parts to my life, and I tend to look at only the physical. What is happening in my physical life? What I need to do more of is pay attention to how the world I can see is interacting with the world I cannot see. What is the cause and effect between the worlds, and what kind of sacrifices do I need to make in the physical world to ensure that I am doing my part to be your agent of good in the spiritual world?
Father, thank you that, unto me, a child was born. Yes, he was born for others, but Jesus is as much about me as anyone. Thank you. I pray over my children, my wife, and the rest of my family. My friends. My coworkers. My community. My world. Unto all of us a child was born. Bring us to a place where we can worship him completely, denying ourselves.
In Jesus’s name I pray,