The Second Great Birth Prophecy

Title: The Second Great Birth Prophecy

Text: Isaiah 9:6, Luke 1:16-38

Date: November 11th, 2007

I A Child is Born

II A Leader Arises

III A Savior and God is Revealed

I was once talking to a pastor of a large church who told me he didn’t like “seasonal” preaching. Or, in other words, he didn’t like preaching messages during the different special seasons of the year, like Christmas and Easter. Well, I’m just the opposite. I love “seasonal” preaching; I love to preach messages during the different special seasons of the year, like Christmas and Easter. That’s why this year I’m starting earlier than usual so that I can get in as many messages about Christmas as possible because it’s so great a theme to teach and learn about. Last week I talked about the famous Isaiah 7:14 prophesy that spoke of a virgin giving birth and his name being Immanuel or “God with us.” I could talk a lot more about that one passage, but I won’t because this week I want to speak on the next great prophetic Christmas verse, Isaiah 9:6, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be upon his shoulders and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Maybe some of you remember this passage put to music in the great Handal’s Messiah where the loud choir sings, “And His name shall be called, Wonderful, Counselor, a Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” I’m sure you’ve all heard that many times either on the radio, on a record or cd, or with a live choir. I’ve got the music for Handal’s Messiah and I play it over and over again during the Christmas season, which I plan to do again this year. But that opera is taken mostly from the different passages in the Old Testament that prophecy, foretell, and describe the birth and life of Jesus Christ. If you ever get a chance, listen again to Handal’s Messiah for all the different Old Testament prophecies it uses in the music. Well, today I’ll be talking about the 2nd famous prophecy concerning the birth of Jesus the Messiah, Isaiah 9:6. What’s unusual about this prophecy is that it not only talks about the birth and leadership of the Messiah, but it also describes the divinity or deity of Jesus the Messiah as well. There are some people who call themselves Christians, believe it or not, that don’t accept or believe in the divinity of Christ; they don’t believe that Jesus is 2nd Person of the Trinity. There is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which is the Trinity, which is the One God in three persons. Now that’s hard to understand, but we believe it by faith because that’s what the Bible teaches, it calls the Father God, the Son God, and the Holy Spirit God, so we say that although God is One, He exists in three persons. But some people who call themselves Christians deny this, like Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons among others. They are wrong, but there could be some confusion in this Isaiah passage because it talks about the son as “everlasting father.” What does that mean? I’ll explain that. But more importantly, some people, particularly Orthodox Jews, who deny that this verse even applies to Jesus Christ. I’ll explain how it can only apply to Jesus and how that helps our faith today. So, now let’s look at this great passage and see what it says to us today.

First, A Child is Born. Isaiah 9:6, “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given.” What are the odds of a specific prophecy of the Old Testament applies to any one individual? To calculate the odds all you have to do is add up all the different conditions of the prophecy and then see who meets all the conditions. If you do that in respect to Isaiah’s prophecy here you’ll find that it can only be fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Now the prophecy starts out general and gets a little more details and then finally gets very specific in details. At the beginning it could apply to almost anyone, but by the time it finishes it can only apply to one person – Jesus. The first condition the prophecy describes is that a child will be born. Nothing unusual about a child being born, in fact, everyone who has ever lived on the earth had to be born at some time, some place. Everyone here today was born I assume. Is there anyone here who wasn’t born? Anybody here who was hatched or who the stork brought or who just showed up in the baby crib? No. If you are human, you were born. So far, then, everyone, might qualify for the prophecy, because everyone has or will been born, and the prophecy says that a child is born. Next, it says that a son is given, so that narrows it down some but not a whole lot. All men are still in the running; the prophecy will be fulfilled by a boy child. And to be completely honest, the prophet Isaiah was writing to the Jews, so he was probably referring to a Jewish baby boy, so that would eliminate all the gentile baby boys and men. But it still leaves a lot of possibilities because there have been, there are, and there might be a lot of Jewish baby boys born who grow up to be Jewish men. It’s interesting that the prophet is even talking about a baby boy instead of talking about a man. Isn’t it interesting that a baby boy Jesus is the center of our celebration of Christmas? I can’t think of any other world religion that has as its biggest celebration the birth of its leader. The Buddhist’s don’t celebrate the baby Buddha. The Muslim’s don’t celebrate the Mini Mohamed. But Christian’s celebrate the baby Jesus at Christmas time. And notice that the prophet says it this way, “unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.” It’s a child, it’s a son for all of us, not just the mother and father of the child. In fact, at Christmas time we celebrate the fact that Jesus was born into the world for all the world, not just Americans, not just Europeans, not just one race or ethnic group, but for all. What did the angels say to the shepherds? “And the angel said to them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people,” Luke 2:10. Everything is in this prophecy by Isaiah because it’s supposed to be in it. But let’s go on.

Second, A Leader Arises. Isaiah 9:6, “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.” Here we learn more about the identity of the person who would fulfill this prophecy. He is a born a son, and then, he will be grow up to be a great leader. From the last part of the verse, we could also throw in the descriptions, “wonderful counselor” and “prince of peace.” These could also be attributes of a great leader. I’m thinking of the great Jewish king Solomon who the Bible describes as the wisest man who ever lived. The Queen of Sheba came to visit from Africa and she was amazed at the wisdom that Solomon displayed. So impressed was she that she exclaimed, “How lucky you Jews are to have such a wise king and to receive such excellent counsel from him,” 2 Chronicles 9:7. So the wonderful counselor detail could apply to a leader such as Solomon maybe. One quick note about this detail. Some Bibles translate it “Wonderful, Counselor” making it two descriptions, while other Bibles translate it, “Wonderful Counselor” making it one description, that is, a counselor that is wonderful. Which is it? Theologians love to debate subjects like this, and argue this way or that way. The King James Version translates it two descriptions, “Wonderful, Counselor,” while the newer translations usually translate it just one description, “Wonderful Counselor.” It doesn’t really effect the prophecy or the description of the person who fulfills the prophecy either way. If you like the King James Version, read it that way. One man told me the reason he uses the King James is that “if it’s good enough for the Peter and Paul, it’s good enough for me,” he said. Well, we all know that the King James Version is an English translation of the Greek and Hebrew original languages. No translation is perfect. The Bible is perfect, that is the pure inspired Word of God, is perfect, but all human translations have their limits. On this particular point, it’s not important; either way is fine — wonderful counselor. The real point is that the prophecy describes a leader, also a prince of peace. Again, I think of Solomon, whose very name contains the Hebrew word for peace, Shalom, Solomon or shalomon. He’s a type of prince of peace. His father David had established peace in Israel and passed that peace to his son Solomon, who ruled in peace during his lifetime. So the identify of the mystery person of the prophecy has to be born a boy, has to grow up to be a great leader, a wonderful counselor, and a prince of peace. So far it could apply to a few Jewish kings like Solomon, probably not to somebody like David because he was a man of war who shed a lot of blood – which is why he wasn’t permitted to build the temple. But as we’ll see, even Solomon, or someone like him, who meets all the qualifications of the prophecy so far, drop out when we look at the final qualifications.

Third, A Savior and God is Revealed. Isaiah 9:6, “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” These last qualifications leave nobody else other than Jesus Christ as the total and final fulfillment of the prophecy. Look at these key qualifications: Mighty God and Everlasting Father. Do those describe Solomon of the past? No. Do they describe any other traditional Jewish figure of history? No. In fact, looking back into all of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, the only figure that all these qualifications fit is Jesus Christ. Even great figures like Abraham and Moses, you would never call “Mighty God” or “Everlasting Father.” No Jewish hero would ever take on that title or even be given that title. No, Jesus is the only person in all of history that fits all of the descriptions in the prophecy. Isaiah 7:14 says that the baby would be born and he would be called Immanuel which means “God with us.” That’s a clue. Then, with Isaiah 9:6 the prophet comes right out and says, “Mighty God.” These are descriptions that no prophet or great biblical hero would ever use or even others would use in describing them. But the description fits Jesus as the unique, incarnate Word of God made flesh in Bethlehem, who we celebrate at Christmas time. But there is one problem that is raised by some people with the prophecy concerning Jesus: “How can Jesus the son be called Everlasting Father?” In the teaching on the Trinity, the Father is the Father, and the Son is the Son, and the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit. The Father isn’t the Son, and the Son isn’t the Father. If it’s describing Jesus, why does it call him “Everlasting Father?” Well, the answer lies in the way the phrase is translated from the original Hebrew language. It literally means “father of eternity” or “author of eternity.” This points to Christ’s divinity or deity. Christ was creator along with the Father and Holy Spirit in the beginning. As John 1:3 says, “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” So the prophecy predicts that God Himself would enter human history by birth, would grow up into a great leader – not in the sense of a typical political leader, but a king nonetheless – and that the government or world order of mankind would somehow depend on him, be his responsibility, rest upon his shoulders. That’s exactly what happened on the cross when Jesus carried the sins of the world upon his shoulders, bore our sins, and made atonement for us. We are saved through the work of Christ on the cross during his first coming, but his second coming will reveal even more of his full leadership as he gathers his children to himself and puts an end to evil as the Book of Revelations describes.

Now what does this have to do with us today? First, it shows us that God knows the past, present, and future in revealing and fulfilling prophecy. This shows us that God is in control of history. Our lives aren’t just accidents and our lives aren’t just out of control, neither is our world out of control. Brittany Spears’s life may be out of control, but God is in control of the world and our lives. Nothing happens without him having a say in it. Second, it gives us great confidence in our faith in Jesus Christ to know that the Old Testament had long predicted his coming to earth as a baby and as God in human flesh. There is no other religion like this. Nothing like it in Buddhism or Hinduism. Nothing like it in Islam. Nothing like it in Judaism because they reject Jesus as the fulfillment of the prophecy and thus miss the full significance of what the prophet was predicting. The Jews either try to apply the prophecy to some past great hero of the Bible – which is pretty much impossible, especially with the titles Mighty God and Father of Eternity. Or the Jews try to say that when the Messiah comes, the one they are still looking for to come, he will fulfill it. But it’s hard to imagine any Messiah other than Jesus Christ fulfilling the whole prophecy. Jesus was born and was a baby boy, as Isaiah says must happen. He became a great leader – leader of the world’s greatest faith, and as prince of peace and wonderful counselor. Jesus is looked to by millions, even billions of people world-wide as their king, so his kingdom is world-wide. He is sought in prayer by billions or seek after him for personal counsel as the wonderful counselor. He is worshiped as God, as the Mighty God by millions. Only the Jehovah’s Witness and other false cults deny him his deity and divinity. And he is the author of eternity along with the Father and Spirit in creation. So it’s hard to imagine this prophecy ever being better fulfilled than it was in the birth and life of Jesus. Aren’t you glad you put your trust in Jesus today, as we head into the Christmas season 2007? Doesn’t it make you feel confident to know that not only does Christianity make sense in the present, but also it makes sense in the fulfilled prophecy of the past? If the Jews would only read and seriously consider their own writings, their own prophets, they would see that Jesus really is the Messiah, they would celebrate Christmas, the birth of the Messiah Jesus, along with Christians. I feel good about my faith this Christmas season. I’m happy to be a believer in Jesus. I’m confident that I’m right in believing with my whole heart in Jesus Christ and I hope and pray that God lets me lead some other people to believe in Jesus this Christmas season 2007. Let’s all pray that prayer.

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