Jesus as King


During the Christmas season, we hear this prophecy many times. It’s a sad testimony to the state of Christian education and education in general in America that a lot of Christians and very few non-believers know where it comes from. It wasn’t Handel that wrote these words, it was the prophet Isaiah:

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 Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 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. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:6, 7 TNIV)

The prophecies given in Isaiah chapters 7 – 12 were given during the reign of King Ahaz, king of Judah. The southern kingdom didn’t have too many bad kings, but Ahaz was one bad dude. Our prophet began his career as the national voice of God in the year King Uzziah died, who was a good king who reigned for some 52 years. Following him was his son, Jotham, who was a hypocritical phony. Ahaz was Jotham’s son, Uzziah’s grandson and he was just bad to the bone. It was during his tenure on the throne that Isaiah made these famous prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah. God’s people needed hope after enduring decades of shifty, evil leadership. To say that this was a dark time in Judah’s history would be an understatement. Many people had become disenchanted with the faith; they thought God had forsaken the nation. They needed to know that God was still there; that He still cared, but especially the people needed to know that God was still in control.

The countdown began with a child

The fact of the coming Messiah began with the prophecy found in Isaiah 7 –

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14 TNIV)

We hear that verse all time in reference to Jesus Christ; that’s how the New Testament applied it, so we know that Jesus Christ’s birth was the final fulfilment of this wonderful prophecy. However, the word “therefore” is important because it tells us more is going on. Isaiah is speaking to evil king Ahaz. Here’s the context:

“The head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is only Remaliah’s son. If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.’ ” Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, “Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights. ” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put the Lord to the test. ” (Isaiah 7:9 – 12 TNIV)

Ahaz was facing a crisis and he didn’t know if he should seek help from the Lord or from the Assyians. He called on the prophet Isaiah for advice. Isaiah told him to ask God for a sign, but the stubborn king refused. But the Lord, through His prophet, was going to speak to Ahaz whether the king wanted to listen or not. That’s why the “therefore” is there as the beginning of verse 14.

Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of human beings? Will you try the patience of my God also?” (Isaiah 7:13 TNIV)

You have to admire Isaiah’s straightforwardness! He’d had it with the house of David – the ruling elite of his day. The people were fed up with them, he was fed up with them, and the prophet invoked the Lord – the Lord was growing impatient with the house of David. “Therefore,” like it or not, God was going to give the house of David a sign.

The immediate fulfilment of this prophecy is found in the very next chapter –

Then I made love to the prophetess, and she conceived and gave birth to a son. And the Lord said to me, “Name him Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz. Before the boy knows how to say ‘My father’ or ‘My mother,’ the wealth of Damascus and the plunder of Samaria will be carried off by the king of Assyria. ” (Isaiah 8:3 – 4 TNIV)

God used Isaiah’s son, with the unfortunate name of Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz, as a living clock; a way to indicate how soon disaster would overtake the nation. It would happen before the kid would be able to talk.

Here am I, and the children the Lord has given me. We are signs and symbols in Israel from the Lord Almighty, who dwells on Mount Zion. (Isaiah 8:18 TNIV)

Signs, wonders, portents…Israel was going to fall to the Assyrians and it was going to happen soon. God used Isaiah and his family as an indicator. The house of David needed to pay attention and get its house in order or what eventually happened to Israel would happen to them.

Historically, Isaiah’s living prophecy came to pass. King Ahaz, king of Judah, was scared of that the Syrian-Israel coalition, yet his fears were unfounded. Within 65 years, all the nations that threatened him were destroyed. He should have trusted in the Lord. But, while Judah survived intact, much devastation occurred at the hand of the Assyrians.

If this teaches us anything it’s the importance of keeping our faith and our focus on God. The real problems of life – the real threats we may face – are not our circumstances. The real issue is whether or not we will trust the Lord no matter.

Another child

God had used a child to teach a lesson. Here in chapter 9 of Isaiah, the prophet’s attention shifts from the immediate future of Judah and his people to the future. And the Lord will use another child to teach His people that, even though they felt abandoned by God, He in no way had forgotten them and even during this dark time of Hebrew history, the Lord was working to accomplish His purposes for His people.

By this time, Judah was suffering. They hadn’t been destroyed by the Assyrians, but the Assyrians had inflicted considerable damage to the kingdom. However, all was not lost.

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 nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. (Isaiah 9:1, 2 TNIV)

There was no need for hopelessness. There would come a Messiah who would make things right and restore the glory of the kingdom. Of course, that would be in the future. Here’s the fulfilment of the first couple of verses –

Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali—to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah: “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” (Matthew 4:13 – 16 TNIV)

Verse 2 has reference to the first coming. Even though Isaiah wrote it in the past tense, it was yet to occur. When Jesus came, light dawned on a dark world.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 TNIV)

That “great light” burst forth out of Galilee as Jesus began His public ministry there. But all was not well. In between verses 2 and 3 there is a gap, that so far has lasted over 2,000 years.

You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as soldiers rejoice when dividing the plunder. (Isaiah 9:3 TNIV)

There was no joy in Israel during the time of Jesus and certainly none after He ascended to Heaven. The things Isaiah wrote about in verses 3 – 5 will occur in the future. You may wonder why Isaiah didn’t talk about things happening today, during the present 2,000+ year gap. The answer is simple. During this period, God has called out the Church and is working through the Church. This was hidden from Isaiah and all the Old Testament prophets. Try as you might, you won’t find the Church anywhere in a word of prophecy. On this, Paul helps us out –

Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to faith and obedience… (Romans 16:25, 26 TNIV)

The “mystery” Paul wrote about is the Church. Isaiah passed over what wasn’t revealed to him. But, what was revealed to him is something we talk about, read about, and sing about every year: the birth of the Christ child.

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 Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 TNIV)

The first phrase, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given…” is Jesus at His first coming. Everything after that will be Jesus at His triumphant Second Coming. At that time, our Lord will be the earth’s true, only, and final King, because “on his shoulder” will rest all the authority He needs to be the greatest King and Sovereign this planet has ever known. What follows in this stunning verse are not only descriptions but titles of Jesus Christ as King.

Wonderful, Counsellor. These two words should be hyphenated. King Jesus will be a Wonder of a Counsellor. All the wisdom of the universe, of the ages, will reside in our coming King.

“Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” (Romans 11:34 TNIV)

Our King needs no counsellor; He needs no advisors. He doesn’t come to decisions based on meetings held in His office. Jesus Christ, the coming King, is Wisdom personified.

It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:30 TNIV)

Mighty God. Our King will be the Divine Warrior. He is the One to whom “all power is given.” He is not only omniscient, but also omnipotent. The Hebrew is El Gibbor. ‘El’ always refers to the Godhead in an absolute sense. In Jesus rests all – all – the power of the Godhead.

Everlasting Father. The Hebrew is beautiful: Avi – Ad, the “Father of Eternity.” What a description of the King of Kings! He is the Father in perpetuity. He will always be our Heavenly Father. The idea Isaiah is putting across is one of time and space. The child who was born 2,000 years ago is the Father of time and space. There is not a nook or cranny the whole universe where Jesus Christ is not the Father. There is no point in space or time where He is not present.

Prince of Peace. This final name suggests the characteristics of His rule: peace, complete, absolute peace on earth. The Hebrew word is shalom, which not only indicates an absence of war and strife, also speaks of a condition of health, harmony, and complete well-being in every way.

There can be no peace on earth until Jesus Christ returns as its true, final King. His government will be perfect – it will grow and increase. He will sit on the throne of His father, David.  How will all this come about?: God will cause it all to happen.

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. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:7 TNIV)

Man may have his plans. Nations may plot and scheme plans that will take them decades out into the future, but God’s zeal – His perfect and holy will – will always come to pass in spite of what man thinks or wants.

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