I have been given an amazing gift this Christmas season. It was probably costly, but not expensive. It is laced with beauty, but not found in diamonds or jewels. No, this Christmas season I've been given the gift of understanding.
Understanding how awesome it is that Jesus came to our world.
Understanding the idea that He began His journey to redeem the world on that lonely Christmas night.
Understanding what the true meaning of Christmas is all about.
In my devotions, I've been reading about the promise of Christ throughout the entire Old Testament. How Christ has reigned supreme since the very beginning of time. God revealed Christ for the very first time when He said to the serpent, "You will bruise His heel, but He will crush your head." Again, He declared the promise to Abram when He declared that "all the peoples of the earth shall be blessed through you." Abram knew God wasn't talking about Him, but of the One who was to come through Abram's line of descent. David received the promise of the Messiah when the Lord God said, "your kingdom will reign forever." Again, David knew it had nothing to do with him, but everything to do with God redeeming the world.
In the book of Isaiah, we find four songs of the servant, which can also be referred to as Messianic prophecies. One that has always been read during the Christmas season is Isaiah 9:6-7:
"For unto us a child is born, unto 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. Of the increase of 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. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this."
What I find to be amazing are the verses that precede this text, rarely ever read together:
"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 - 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. 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. For unto us a child is born...."
Do you see what I'm getting at? How incredible it is that the one who brought peace came in the form of a baby! I have many other thoughts on this that I will write in another post, but for now I want to focus on the issue of peace. Reading my friend Sara's blog the other day, reminded me of the war-filled world we live in. Having her husband as an Army Chaplain, I doubt that she is ever able to think otherwise. It is sad for me to read stories of real people who are losing their lives. Men and women who are fighting for our country, but also wars that are taking place around the world that we don't even know about. Civil wars like the ones in Africa, tribal wars, religious wars, etc. take place always. Will peace ever come to be in this world of hatred and hurt?
Yet, in this passage in Isaiah, God says that there is One greater than all of this. There is One who will bring peace. And peace means so much more than just an absense of war or an inner calm. My devotion suggested it as, "completeness, wholeness, fullness, soundness, firmness, safety, well-being, prosperity, and contentment." Being a Wonderful Counselor indicates wisdom and royalty; "Mighty God" is associated with power and victory; "Everlasting Father" points to His eternal and divine origins; and "Prince of Peace" means he brings peace and well-being to the earth.
It is so humbling to me to think of my God coming to earth as a human. Think of a baby you know and love; maybe your own child. Think of Christ in that precious form. Knowing that those tiny hands would be nailed to a cross. That those tiny little feet would take the grueling steps toward redeeming the world as the world threw insults and hatred at him. That his sweet, soft skin would be covered in stripes of blood. And that through all of this, we have the promise of peace. True peace that no President, pastor or peace treaty can provide.
Why is it we tend to bypass this great truth? Why do we only look to the cross on Easter? For truly, that little baby was looking to the cross on that miraculous Christmas night. I will never cease to be thankful.