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Sunday, December 16, 2018

posted Dec 17, 2018, 6:48 AM by Site Administrator





Isaiah 8:21-9:7

Key Verse 9:6


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.


First, To the law and to the testimony (8:19-22).Look at chapter 8, verses 19 and 20. When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? The prophet points out the problem in their practice. When they had some difficulty, when they needed counseling service, they went to mediums and spiritists; that’s terrible for God’s people to do. But that’s their practice. At this, the prophet gives them a clear direction, saying, To the law and to the testimony! The law of God shows God’s people what to do and what not to do, where to go and where not to go, and how to live. The testimony testifies that when they lived according to God’s laws, great things occurred in their lives; the testimony also testifies that, when people did not live according to God’s laws, nothing went very well. The testimony, therefore, supports us to hold onto God’s laws. 


Often, people need some advice or instruction; life's challenges are always there, and often people do not know what to do and where to go. At that time, what should we do? The prophet Isaiah shouts, To the law and to the testimony!This means that we must choose to obey God's command; in the time of uncertainty, when there are many choices, when there are many attractive looking things, the prophet Isaiah encourages us to choose to keep God's command and do what God wants us to do, instead of doing what we want to do. What if anyone's teaching is not based on this, or if anyone chooses any other way, what will happen to them? The prophet says, they have no light of dawn - no realenlightenment, no understanding, no real insight, and no real confidence no matter what they do. He says in verse 21, Distressed and hungry, they will roam through the land - even if they follow fortune teller's instruction, even if they follow some worldly wisemen's advice, still they have no confidence in what they do; they feel insecure and unsatisfied - so they roam through the land looking for something that will give them real direction, purpose and meaning - college students keep changing their major, and people keep changing their jobs, and even some people keep changing their marriage partners. This kind of life is so hard, burdensome and tiring. The prophet talks about them, saying, When they are famished, they will become enraged and, looking upward, will curse their kings and their God. Despite their struggles and searches, when they do not find something that can truly satisfy them, something that can solve their problems really, they begin to blame others, especially, their leaders. Actually, it is their fault that, instead of turning to the law and to the testimony in the time of decision making, they chose to go by some other ways such as fortune teller's instruction, or job market statistics or their sinful desires. But when things don't go very well, they blame others. Husbands blame their wives, and wives their husbands; children blame their parents, and parents blame their neighbors. They blame the political leaders, saying that, because the politicians made terriblelaws, they suffer. Eventually, these people look up to heaven and blame God, saying, Why do you do this to me? Why don't you help me? Then, angrily they say, I will never believe in you. But even if they find someone to blame for all their sufferings and pains in life, it does not mean that things get better. The prophet Isaiah says, in verse 22, Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness. When these people check out how their life goes and how the world goes, they cannot see anything positive at all – only distress, darkness and fearful gloom. When theythink about their future, they cannot see any hope or vision for their life. How scary it is that your whole future looks so terrible, and that there is no hope no vision! When people do not turn to the law and to the testimony, they are thrust into utter darkness. This is how people in the world live their lives. Even if their life looks glamourous, don’t be deceived. 


Here we see the importance of Isaiah's message: To the law and to the testimony! So many church going people naively say, In the New Testament, in Jesus Christ, we are free from the law, and do whatever they feel like doing. They really don't know what they are saying and doing. As a result, their lives are destroyed - their families are ruined and they are in deep pains and sorrows. Many people cry in someone's shoulder, saying, I don't know why my life is so hard. This is how so many God believing people live their life; it’s all because they have not turned to the law and to the testimony. We are God's people, so we must hold onto God's words and live by them, no matter what others do and say, then, all the blessings God talks about in the Bible will be poured out on us, and we will be overjoyed; otherwise, we give our enemy a chance to mislead us, torture us and destroy us. The prophet Isaiah shouts, To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.


Second, Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom(9:1-5). Look at verse 1. Let’s read this verse 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.


In chapter 8, the message was heavy – distress, hungry, famished, fearful gloom,… But, when we come to chapter 9, suddenly everything changes. The prophet Isaiah shouts, Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. They were in distress because they had consulted mediums and spiritists, instead of inquiring of God; they had fearful gloom because they had not turned to the law and to the testimony. It was by their faults that their life was going really terrible; it was by their disobedience that their life was being destroyed.


Nevertheless (meaning, despite their shortcomings, despite their weaknesses and mistakes, despite theirwrongdoings), there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. This means that they have a second chance for a happy life! How come? It is not because of what they have done, but all because of what God has done. This is the Christmas message. This Christmas message deserves all peoples’ attention. God did something great in the land of Zebulun, in the land of Naphtali about 2,000 years agoand because of that, such great change occurs even in the lives of those who were in distress. This area is located in the northern Israel. This area was called, Galilee of the Gentiles, by the Israel people  so despised; just a ghetto area. Even someone said in the Bible, Can anything good come from this area?In the past God humbled this area. But about 2,000 years ago, God did something great in Galilee and made Galilee glorious and honorable. What happened? Galilee was the very area Jesus served his messianic ministry mostly, teaching the people and calling his first disciples. We never knew about Galilee before. But when we experienced Jesus' grace, suddenly, the name, Galilee falls onto our ears so sweetly like a beautiful poem. All Christians dream about visiting Galilee  the holy land.


We messed up; we sinned; as a result, our life was going really terribly – we deserved such terrible life. Nevertheless, a second chance for a wonderful life was given to us, not because of what we had done, but because of what God had done in Galilee 2,000 years ago. Because of that, everything has changed in our life; now we enjoy wonderful life as children of God. ‘Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. Merry Christmas!


Look at verses 2 and 3. Let’s read these verses together:


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.


These verses describe people’s condition before God’s grace very well – they were walking in darkness; they were living in the land of the shadow of death. At the same time, these verses describe what great blessings came to us in Jesus Christ. People are gloomy fundamentally, not because they cannot buy enough gifts for Christmas, but because they are walking in darkness, and because they are living in the land of the shadow of death. In darkness without light, people don't know where they are going and what is ahead of them - there is the fear of unknown future, uncertainty and sense of insecurity in their hearts all the timein darkness, their only purpose is to survive - this is the very reason why people are distressed and gloomy. Young people are gloomy and old people are depressed, because they are in darkness. Rich people are gloomy and poor people are gloomy because they don't know what to do with their life and how to live it - no meaning, no purpose and no direction of their life. And the source of this darkness is death. Depression, gloom, fear, sorrow, sense of loneliness, meaninglessness, and emptiness are all elements of death. As long as humans live with death working in them, they are gloomy, depressed and distressed. 


But Isaiah shouts that these people have seen a great light! With the light, they can see where to go and what is ahead of them; they see where they are going, and in their life, there is a direction, purpose and meaning. Then, they say, Yes, I can do it. When they see a great light in their life, they can study hard and work hard with a new momentum. A great light has dawned in their hearts. When they see a great light, when a light has dawned on them, the first thing that happens in their life is joy. Before, they were gloomy like Grinch; they looked so serious. But when they have a great light, when light has dawned in their lives, they become bright, smiling a lot, laughing a lot; they become happy people. This is my story; this is your story; and this is the story of all those who accept Jesus Christ. Today, because of what God did in Galilee 2,000 years ago, 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.


Look at verse 4. Isaiah says, 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. Verse 4 starts with the word, For, showing that it explains the reason why and how these people who were in distress come to have such great joy. It’s all because God shattered the yoke that burdened them, the bar across their shoulders and the rod of their oppressors. Here, yoke, barand rod all refer to something that have forced you to do things you didn't want to do - it is sin. People have inborn desire to be holy, righteous and glorious because we were all created in God's image and in God's likeness. But it is sin that is working in us that damages and destroys the image of God and makes us ugly, miserable and sinful. Sin makes us its slaves who do everything it desires. Because of sin, families are broken; because of sin, young and bright people become hobos; because of sin, many teenage girls become single mothers - their life withers even before it blossoms; because of sin, people’s life is really miserable; they are in distress. But God shatters the yoke of sin and sets them free from their sins. Because of this, people can really rejoice; they have a second chance to live their life in a holy and righteous way. An angel told Joseph about Jesus, saying, He will save his people from their sins. When God’s word was given to us, when God’s love became so real to us, we could truly repent and turn away from the things of this world to God; we could give up our sinful life; we could forgive those who had wronged to us. On that day, we could start a new life as children of God. How could we do that? We could do that, because on that day, God shattered the yoke that had burdened us, the bar across our shoulders and the rod of our oppressors.God set us free from our sins, so we could turn to God freely.This freedom from sin is what has brought to us all these blessings – no more gloom for those who were in distress; God has enlarged our territory (we are dreaming about doing great things); God has made us rejoice greatly in Jesus Christ our Lord. Praise God! He set us free from our sins!


Look at verse 5. Every warrior's boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. Before knowing Jesus, we fought so much, with our parents, with our siblings and with our neighbors and friends - at home, at work, at school and on the streets. When someone scratched our pride, we shouted, Where are my warrior's boots? We wounded so many people and we were wounded so much also - parents wept, children wept, siblings wept, our friends wept, yet, everyone was still angry, ready to fight moreThe whole motto in the world is Survival of the fittest and we have struggled hard to survive, willing to brush others to the wall so that we could climb up the ladder of success in the world. But after experiencing freedom from sin in Jesus, we begin to see everything differently; our perspectives, our hope and desires, our value system all changed that we have no reason to compete with others or fight with anyone. As children of God, we are not here to survive or enjoy some luxury, but we are here to love Jesus and serve His will. So, we do not fight with people in the world. We burn our warrior’s boots in fire; we beat our swords into plowshares and our shields into pruning hooks. (Isa 2:4; Mic 4:3) 


ThirdFor to us a child is born (6). Look at verse 6. Let’s read this verse together:


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.


This verse also starts with For, showing that it explains how such great changes could occur, how freedom from sin came to people. Verse 6 reads, For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,… Because of the birth of a child, there will be no more gloom! Because a son was given to us, we experienced freedom from sin. People may say, What?! It doesn’t make sense. But this is true, because this baby is not an ordinary baby. Verse 6 reads, The government will be on his shoulders, indicating that he is king in charge of a kingdom


Verse 6b describes who this baby is in detail - Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.But the author does not say, His names are Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.Instead, he says, He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, indicating that these are what other people who experienced him would call him. Some people after experiencing him call him Jesus is Wonderful Counselor. There are many bad counselors. Bad counselors talk a lot, but usually, never hitting the head of the nail - so even if you spend a lot of time with them even sometimes, paying a lot of money, eventually you don't get anything. But good counselors don't need to talk too much, but only words that are necessary, and with their advice, things become so simple in your eyes, and you can see everything clearly, knowing what to do and how to do, and what's going to happen. Then, you are so happy and thankful.Jesus is not just a good counselor, but Wonderful Counselor. Think about how He helped you. You were in deep distress with so many complex problems piling up on you; things were so complicated, and it seemed that there was no way out. Then, Jesus, usually, with just one sentence, or even with one phrase, showed you everything clearly. With his counselling service, you instantly solved all your problems and you were overjoyed. What a Wonderful Counselor he is! So, when you have life's challenges, don't follow some worldly wisemen's advice, or your own worldly or sinful desires; instead, come to Jesus, turn to his words, and He will guide you in the best way. 


Some other people, after experiencing him, call him “Mighty God.” What did they experience that they call him, “Mighty God”? They must have seen that everything was in his control. Some people call him, Everlasting Father. Wait a minute! Jehovah God is God the Father, and Jesus is God the Son – that’s his main title. But how come they call him, “father? Father is a symbol of provision and protection, coming with stability and dependability. Under a good father, children feel secure and abundant; they think that they are the world's richest people - it is not because they are really rich, but because their father stands ahead of them and blocks all the challenges of life in the world by himself that no danger or threat reaches to his children. Simply, the father is a role model for children, and a manly figure for sonsOur society has a serious father problem, because so many fathers have been unfaithful and unreliable. Many fathers don't care for their families, but do whatever they want to do; they abandon their children for their own pleasures. As a result, many children develop deep wounds and scars, sense of abandonment, sense of worthlessness, and sense of insecurity. These people meet Jesus as their Everlasting Father, their true role model, the symbol of stability and dependability like a rock - strong, faithful and never-changing. When they use the word, “Father” to Jesus, we can see their deep affection on him. When they use the word, “Everlasting,” we can see their complete trust in him, in his faithfulness and in his love for them. They are satisfied. With him, their void is filled, all their wounds and scars are healed, their mistrust is gone. They can happily trust in Jesus. Jesus is our Everlasting Father, our Role Model, our Rock. He never changes; he is always faithful to us. Praise Jesus!


Some people, after experiencing Him call Him, Prince of Peace. The person they experienced was such a man of peace that they gave him the name, “Prince of Peace.” This name shows what kind of person Jesus is very well – a man of peace, never threatening, never irritating, always choosing the way of peace. He is the Son of God. But when people rejected him, he did not argue with them; instead, he simply went to other towns. When his believers are too busy-minded and thereby, don’t love him, he stands at the door and knock. He does not force his way, even though his way is right; instead, he knocks and waits until they recognize his voice and open the door for him willingly. This is how Jesus has treated us all this time – Prince of Peace. He has been waiting for us so long. What a beautiful person He is! David sang in Psalm 27, “One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.” (Ps 27:4) When these people call Jesus, “Prince of Peace,” they must have been really attracted to him – his character, his personality is so beautiful that they love him and seek him.


One person being called with these four glorious namesshows that this person is certainly not an ordinary human, but a glorious one. Who can earn this kind of glorious names from those who experience him? No humans can; if anyone earns such glorious titles, then, this person must be God. Jesus is God to be praised. The baby born about 2,000 years ago is our Creator - Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. We must worship Him. These four titles are actually people’s testimony about Jesus they experienced. Who is Jesus to you? What is your testimony about him


Fourth, “Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end” (7). Look at verse 7. Let’s read this verse together:


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.


Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. His kingdom is a never-ending kingdom -everlasting kingdom. A never-ending kingdom – this is all mankind’s dream; throughout history, people struggled to build such a kingdom. But without any exception, all kingdoms that rose fell. Some kingdoms rose powerfully with good system, but as time went by, they too deteriorated due to inward corruption or/and outward attacks, then, finally they fell and disappeared in dust and ashes. If any kingdom lasts forever, it means that this kingdom is a perfect kingdom with a perfect system that can not only withstand all challenges inwardly and outwardly but also overcome them, being renewed and refreshed continuously – an idealistic kingdom, and all the citizens in this kingdom can enjoy a wonderful life without worry or fear of anything – such a kingdom is Utopia – the fulfillment of all mankind’s dream. Now the prophet Isaiah proclaims that Jesus is the one who builds such a perfect kingdom Utopia that never ends. Jesus is the very one who fulfills all mankind’s dream. His kingdom never ends. Also, it means not that his kingdom stays the same all the time, but that its government increases continuously. 2,000 years ago, Jesus built this kingdom on Calvary in Israel; at that time, it was a tiny kingdom with just a handful of citizens. But since then, it has been increasing continually, and now covering the whole world. According to Daniel’s prophecy, all kingdoms will be gone, and this kingdom will fill the whole earth. All our struggles as shepherds are for this purpose. It is really great to be citizens of this kingdom.


Isaiah also says that Jesus establishes and upholds this eternal kingdom with justice and righteousness. The two pillars that support this eternal kingdom of Jesus, calledChristianity are justice and righteousness. Jesus upholds justice from that time on and forever. This shows that Jesus deals with everyone justly in a fair way; there is no favoritism or partiality. So, as long as you do what you are supposed to do, you will be treated justly, nothing to worry about. Jesus upholds justice. Jesus clearly states several times in the Bible that, when he comes again, he will pay everyone according to what each person has done – that’s his way in dealing with everyone – according to what each person has done. Indeed, Jesus is just and fair, upholding justice. But many Christians do not think that way. Instead, they expect great rewards, saying, I will reign with him forever, even when they do not do anything for him. Indeed, Christians are strange. Often, we are discouraged, because despite our yearlong struggle, at the end of the year, we are fruitless. But Jesus upholds justice. It means that if we work hard, he will certainly pay us well, with many disciples. If we don’t have fruit, maybe, we just need to work harder. He will deal with us justly. Nothing to worry about.


He also upholds righteousness. Righteousness means right relationship with God, or what is right before God.Jesus does what is right in the sight of God. So he leads us into the path of righteousness. So, we don’t need to worry about anything – what will happen to us if we follow him faithfully. Many people hesitate to be wholehearted to God’s will because of mistrust. They certainly don’t need to do so. Jesus deals with each of us in the righteous way; he will not trick us. 


Sometimes, when justice is emphasized, it is cold and scary. But when righteousness kicks in, it is beautiful and complete, because everything, every condition is considered. As citizens of this kingdom, as we live in this kingdom, we are being accustomed to justice and righteousness; we become familiar with justice and righteousness. Then, we ourselves come to exercise justice and righteousness in our life practical life, because that’s how we come to perceive things. That’s how we are growing as real children of God. 


 The prophet Isaiah conclusively says, “The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.” Establishing one business is hard – we have to overcome many challenges; establishing a nation is much harder. Then, what about establishing a perfect kingdom that will last forever? It must be really hard; impossible for any human to do. Who can establish such a kingdom that will never end? The LORD Almighty would do it with his exceptional zeal. Despite so many challenges and obstacles, he pursued it, and finally, He accomplished this job by even willing to sacrifice his only Son on the cross. This was his dedication. Now his desire is to increase its government and peace; his plan is to fill the earth with this kingdom. This is what God is doing today. My Father is always at his work to this very day, and we too are working. 


One Word:Nevertheless, There Will Be No More Gloom, For To Us A Son Is Given!