ADVENT - PROPHECY
Light In The Darkness
It’s been a difficult year!
Most of us would agree with that statement. We could never have imagined in our lifetime that something like the coronavirus would cause such distress, chaos, fear, anxiety, and depression.
Add to that the racial tensions that have surfaced over this past year.
Then, add to that the political divide that continues to widen.
Finally, add to that the economic downturn and we have the makings of something very difficult and dark
It’s easy for us to look at 2020 and say that we are living in the land of the shadow of death. It’s not hard to feel like we are walking in darkness.
Times of darkness
The miscarriage of our one child
When criticism comes
I’m a self-evaluator
I’m hardest on myself
Times of darkness
Times of darkness for God’s people
God spoke directly to the prophets in the Old Testament
He gave them prophetic words for the people of Israel and their leaders
Most of the messages from God to His people and their leaders were not feel-good messages, but rather warnings about punishment to come if they didn’t repent and turn back to Him
Some of the prophetic words were about the future and brought hope
That’s what He did with Isaiah as we’ll see today
BIG IDEA – There is light in the darkness, through Jesus!
But first I want to do a little background work on Advent for those of you who have never experienced it or have experienced it, but never understood why it is celebrated the four weeks leading up to Christmas
Meaning of Advent
Advent comes from Latin word adventus, which means “coming” or “arrival”
Prophecy/Candle of Hope (purple)
Bethlehem/Candle of Preparation (purple)
Shepherds/Candle of Joy (pink)
Angels/Candle of Love (purple)
Christ Candle (white)
The circle reminds us of God Himself, His eternity and endless mercy, which has no beginning or end
The evergreen used, speaks of the hope that we have in God, the hope of newness, of renewal, of eternal life.
Candles symbolize the light of God coming into the world through the birth of Jesus.
The 4 outer candles represent the period of waiting during the 4 Sundays of Advent, which themselves symbolize the 4 centuries of waiting between the prophet Malachi and the birth of Christ.
The Prophecy Candle (Isaiah 9:1-7)
Most of the OT prophecies were not exciting news for the Israelites
God would use the prophets to help turn the Israelites back to Him
Israel not following the Lord
As we see in Isaiah 8:1-10, God uses Assyria to humble the northern kingdom
This was the mode of operation for Israel
They would forget about God and turn to idols and other practices that He found detestable
He would send them in to exile by using neighboring nations that would come in and conquer them
They would remember the Lord while in exile and cry out to Him for rescue
He would hear their cries and bring them back to the Promised Land
Isaiah’s prophecy – first part (9:1-2)
Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? (8:19)
Thrust into utter darkness (8:22)
We see the transitional word “Nevertheless” or “But” which is contrasting what was just mentioned in 8:22.
In the past He humbled the land of Zebulun and Naphtali (the northern kingdom)
“They were most severely ravaged when the Assyrians invaded from the north.” (Guzik)
In the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles
This goes back to the mode of operation for Israel
When they repent and cry out to God, He hears them and rescues them from their oppressors
The people walking in darkness
The reference here, to living in darkness, is something that we all can connect with
The Israelites, while in exile, were being oppressed
It’s hard to be happy when you are a slave to someone or something else, because that “master” dictates everything you do
If your master is an addiction, you know the darkness associated with that and the pull of that master
If your master is the opinions of others, you understand the darkness of depression
If your master is someone who is abusing you, you recognize the darkness of secrecy that surrounds you
Have seen a great light, a light has dawned
Isaiah hints here of hope that is coming
Light is associated with hope, with being able to see things clearly
It drives out fear
If you’ve every slept with a nightline on, you understand that even a little bit of light drives out darkness and fear
Isaiah says that the people walking in darkness have seen a great light – it wasn’t just a little light
Isaiah’s prophecy – first part fulfilled
Read Matthew 4:13-17
We see in this passage that Jesus lived in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali
Matthew quotes Isaiah 9:1-2 and verifies that Isaiah was referring to Jesus as the light.
Jesus spoke about Himself as the light
John 8:12 – “I am the light of the world.”
John 9:5 – While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
John 12:46 – I have come into the world as a light . . .
John 1:4-5 – In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.
John 1:9 – The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world
There is light in the darkness, through Jesus!
Verses 3 to 5
Isaiah is speaking about future events
Some of it was fulfilled in Isaiah 37 when God accepted King Hezekiah’s prayer concerning the Assyrian’s. The angel of the Lord struck down 185,000 Assyrians.
It can also represent the second coming of Christ and His deliverance and victory
Jesus’ ministry would bring joy and gladness
There will be rejoicing when He returns
He will conquer completely – the reference to the burning of the boots and garments was something that would be done when the battle was finished and you had won!
Isaiah’s prophecy – second part (9:6-7)
A child is born
This speaks of Jesus humanity
“There is nothing more weak, more helpless, more dependent than a child. Theoretically, the Messiah could have come as a fully grown man, created as an adult even as Adam was created. But for Jesus to fully identify with humanity, and to display in His life the servant nature that is in God, made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:7)”
This was the starting point of Jesus humanity
A son is given
This speaks of Jesus deity
Since He has always been, there was no starting point to his deity, but God gave Him to us.
John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
“That Jesus is both God and man tells us that man really is made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26) and that perfect humanity is more compatible with deity than we imagine. It says that our problem is not our humanity, but our fallenness . . . remember that the humanity that Jesus added to His Divine nature was not the sinful humanity we commonly know, but the perfect humanity of Adam and Eve before the fall.” [David Guzik]
Jesus humanity allowed Him to take your punishment for sin and His deity allowed Him to be the perfect sacrifice that God demanded. Without either we would be lost in our sin.
The government will be on His shoulders – this will be fulfilled in the Millennium (thousand year reign) when Jesus reigns in Jerusalem.
Gayle Erwin writes about the government God promises, both ultimately and right now:
What might such a government look like? First of all, it would look like its king. Politicians of this day look for what they can get from you. Jesus looks for what He can do for you.
Leaders of this day surround themselves with servants. Jesus surrounds us with His servanthood.
Leaders of this day use their power to build their empire. Jesus uses his power to wash our feet and make us clean and comfortable.
Leaders of this day trade influence for money. God so loved that he gave . . .
Generals of this day need regular wars to keep their weapons and skills up to date and insure their own advancement. Jesus brings peace and rest to hearts
The higher the plane of importance one reaches in this world, the more inaccessible he becomes. Jesus was Emmanuel, “God with us.”
Leaders of this day are desperate to be seen and heard. Jesus sought anonymity so He could be useful.
Obviously, Jesus is not in charge of the halls of Washington, London, Moscow, Baghdad, Paris or Bonn. So, how can we ever believe the “government will be upon His shoulders?”
Actually, His government shows its workings in wonderful ways. Whenever I see someone who miraculously leaves a life of drugs or alcohol and is restored to his family and work, I can see that he is now governed by God.
Whenever I see loving Christians gently caring for orphans and those rejected by family, I know I am watching people governed by God.
Whenever I see people eagerly learning the Bible and joyously praising, I know who the governor is.
Whenever I see people give up lucrative careers simply to go and share the Good News of Jesus, I know they are governed by God.
When I see pastors carefully teach and lead the flock God has given them, I know they are getting signals from the great King.
When I see people leave family to live and teach in distant lands because they love the people who have not heard, I know they are governed by God.
Daniel Watts of Every Generation Ministries has said: “When we think about a King building His kingdom we realize it requires battles where they conquer those around them. The King of Kings, Jesus Christ, did something completely different - He died in order to establish His kingdom.”
The names/character of Jesus
Wonderful – Hebrew, peh’leh, which means admirable, distinguished. Jesus’ reign will not be boring.
Counselor – Hebrew, yä-ats’, which means one who consults, i.e. cares for, protects. There is no need for an appointment or fees with Jesus. He should be our immediate resource as a counselor.
Scholars debate whether these two names should be combined or not
Whether they are taken together or not we see God’s attribute of omniscience (all-knowing)
He knows exactly how to counsel us in the dark times of our lives
Mighty God – Jesus cannot only give you wise counsel, but has the power to help execute that wise counsel
We see in this name another attribute of God, omnipotence (all-powerful)
Nothing is too hard for Him
Jesus had and used supernatural power to get the attention of people so He could share with them about God and His kingdom
Everlasting Father – Warren Wiersbe says that a better translation is “Father of eternity”. Among Jews, the word “father” means “originator” or “source.” In John 8:44 Satan is the “father [originator] of lies”. If we want anything eternal we have to go to Jesus
In Hebrew and Arabic when they say that someone is “the father of” they are saying they are the source of that thing
Hippocrates – the father of modern medicine
Galileo – the father of modern science
Wilhelm Wundt – the father of modern psychology
We see here another attribute of God, omnipresent (always present with us, throughout eternity)
Prince of Peace – Jesus is the one who makes peace, especially between God and man
“The Hebrew term shalom indicates not only absence of war, but a condition of rich, harmonious, and positive well-being.” [BBC, 63]
The final attribute of God in Jesus is omnificence, which means unlimited in creative bounty
Isaiah’s prophecy – second part fulfilled
Luke 2:11 – Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord
Jesus was born in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago.
Verse 7 is a prophecy yet to be fulfilled. It will be fulfilled when Christ returns.
There will be unending peace.
He will fulfill God’s promise to David that there would always be someone from his line on the throne.
He will be a just and righteous King
The Israelites understood Isaiah, because they had first-hand experience with being oppressed
They needed to have hope in this darkness
Perhaps you’re experiencing the darkness of oppression today
There may be a “master” that is controlling your actions, attitudes, and behaviors
You know you need to get out from underneath that “master”, but it’s difficult
There is hope!
Allow Jesus to be your master
He knows about your situation and has the power to help
He is always present waiting for you to cry out to Him in repentance and to ask Him for help
He wants to bring peace to your life
He is the light that drives out darkness
There is light in the darkness, through Jesus!
My Next Step Today Is To: Begin this Advent season by crying out to God in repentance and ask Him to be my Master.
Tell God about the master that is currently oppressing and controlling you
Ask Him to remove that master from your life
As followers of Jesus Christ, we know that our future is bright
We serve a God who keeps His promises
All of His prophecies have come true, so we know those that have not yet been fulfilled will be
We can rejoice that God fulfilled his prophecy through Isaiah as we remember Jesus birth during this Advent season
Perhaps you don’t see the future as being bright
You can change that today
John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
This is talking about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ
Following Jesus requires a 180-degree turn
That turn happens when you repent of your sins and ask Jesus to come into your life
The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23) – that’s eternal darkness
The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus our Lord
God’s offers you the free gift of eternal life by believing in Jesus and receiving Him into your life
You can do that today and know for sure that your future is bright
My Next Step Today Is To: Receive God’s free gift of eternal life and know that my future will be bright!
“During the 2008 presidential race, John McCain was asked by Time magazine to share his ‘personal journey of faith.’ In his article McCain shared a powerful story of something that occurred while he was a prisoner of war in Vietnam:
When I was a prisoner of war in Vietnam…my captors would tie my arms behind my back and then loop the rope around my neck and ankles so that my head was pulled down between my knees. I was often left like that throughout the night. One night a guard came into my cell. He put his finger to his lips signaling for me to be quiet and then loosened my ropes to relieve my pain. The next morning, when his shift ended, the guard returned and retightened the ropes, never saying a word to me.
A month or so later, on Christmas Day, I was standing in the dirt courtyard when I saw that same guard approach me. He walked up and stood silently next to me, not looking or smiling at me. Then he used his sandaled foot to draw a cross in the dirt. We stood wordlessly looking at the cross, remembering the true light of Christmas, even in the darkness of a Vietnamese prison camp.”
John McCain, "A Light amid the Darkness," Time magazine (8-18-08), p. 40; submitted by Kevin Miller, executive vice president, Christianity Today International.