2 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.
3 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.
4 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.
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.
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 Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 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.
26 In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God. 31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; His kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God.”
38 “I am the Lord's servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.
Quotable quote: “Here is a young man born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He worked in a carpenter's shop until He was thirty and then, for three years, He was an itinerant preacher.
He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never owned a home. He never had a family. He did none of the things we usually associate with greatness - He had no credentials but Himself. While He was still a young man, the tide of public opinion turned against Him. His friends turned against Him. His friends ran away. He was turned over to His enemies.
He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While He was dying, His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had – a cloak. After He died, He was laid to rest in a borrowed tomb through the pity of a friend.
Twenty centuries have come and gone, and today He is the central figure of the human race. All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned - all put together, have not affected the life of man on earth as has this one solitary life.”
In the time of the prophet Isaiah, the twelve tribes were scattered all over Palestine and the Transjordan area. Not until David became king, in approximately 1000 BC, did all the tribes of the Hebrew nation become a kingdom under one king. David had riches, power, honour and respect among all the kings and the nations of the earth.
The throne of David became almost synonymous with power and godliness.
But of even greater significance, to the people of God – those who had been brought up learning the history of the promise of God made to Abraham centuries ago, this appeared to be a fulfillment of God’s every promise to the Hebrew nation.
It was the land that God had led them to. It was the land towards which they had journeyed for forty years in the wilderness.
And now at last it seemed as if God was about to deliver on His promise. This was the fulfilled hope of Israel.
However, shortly after David died at about seventy years of age, the kingdom became divided, and their hopes were dashed and broken.
So it seemed that their hope had been a false dawn, and that God had broken His promise.
Maybe the land which God gave them wouldn’t really be theirs after all.
But we have the benefit of knowing the end of the story, so the brief time of David’s kingdom was really just a symbol of something greater which was still to come.
In about 740 BC, God called a prophet named Isaiah. The kingdom was divided once again, but Isaiah said something of great importance in 11:1 – “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.”
Jesse was David’s father, and the stump referred to here is the ruins of the divided Kingdom. David was also one of Jesus’ ancestors. In fact Jesus is often called the Son of David, so Isaiah 11:1 is a clear prophecy of the future Kingdom of God.
And in chapter 9, we are told in wonderfully picturesque language, just what this new King would be like: “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 Counsellor, 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.”
There was going to come a new King from the house of David who was going to become a king of Israel, and that newer, greater Kingdom would be revealed through Jesus. Years later when the angel brought the news to a young Mary, he echoed the words of Isaiah in Luke 1:30-33. “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; His kingdom will never end.”
What an incredible miracle. Nearly 750 years after Isaiah’s prophecy, an angel stood in the presence of a peasant woman and said in effect, “You are the one who will give birth to the seed of David.”
As we move forwards into the New Testament, it is clear that at first, even Jesus’ disciples didn’t quite understand all of this. They were expecting an earthly kingdom, which would finally free them from the oppressive rule of the Roman Empire. In Acts 1:6 they asked Jesus “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
Repeatedly Jesus tried to get through to them something which they never really grasped until after the resurrection. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.”
You can sense the hope, which ultimately turned into a false hope in what is known as the triumphal entry – Palm Sunday.
The people met Jesus riding into Jerusalem, shouting hosannas, laying their clothing and palm branches on the road. This was the traditional way of welcoming a king. At last, their knight in shining armour had arrived, and He was finally going to overthrow Pontius Pilate and his troops.
Bill Hybels wrote in one of his books about that day, “Everyone who lined the streets had a different reason for waving those palms. Some were political activists; they'd heard Jesus had supernatural power, and they wanted Him to use it to free Israel from Roman rule. Others had loved ones who were sick or dying. They waved branches, hoping for physical healing. Some were onlookers merely looking for something to do, while others were genuine followers who wished Jesus would establish Himself as an earthly king. Jesus was the only one in the parade who knew why He was going to Jerusalem - to die. He had a mission, while everyone else had an agenda.”
It soon became clear that Jesus was not the revolutionary leader they had expected. He was actually far more than they expected, and the revolution He did bring was infinitely greater, but the people just couldn’t see it at the time.
God had intended a spiritual kingdom all along.
The prophet Zechariah foretold it – “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zechariah 9:9)
In Isaiah 53:3-6 we find one of the most-quoted Old Testament prophecies of Jesus: “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
Jesus became what God knew He must become if the world was to be redeemed. And so we watch the gospel story unfold so graphically at a place called Calvary.
Jesus was taken by the cruel, abusive soldiers to their barracks for the night, where He was ridiculed, mocked, slapped, spat on, and cursed.
The ridicule continued as this beaten, bloodied man, hardly what a king should look like, was dragged in front of Pilate who pointed at Him and said mockingly to the people in John 19:14, “Here is your king.”
Pilate then turned to Jesus, and continuing the humiliation which He had faced for hours says to Him, “I just want to ask you a question - are you a king?” And Jesus quietly said, “You said it.”
Pilate had no idea at the time just how accurate these words were, but while this bedraggled shell of a man with dried, matted blood sticking to His skin and hair stood there, barely able to stay on His feet through exhaustion, it must have been hard to see Him as an all-conquering King.
But He was. And He still is the King of kings.
Even when He went through the ultimate humiliation of an execution reserved only for the worst of criminals, a sign was put on the cross. That sign proclaimed in three languages, “This is the King of the Jews.” More mockery.
That ironic message was to add to the mocking of Jesus, but they came back to haunt those who put the sign on the cross, because He was, and He is the King.
It’s the Christmas season, a time when we think of calm and peaceful manger scenes, but as I said last week, you cannot have Christmas without Easter. You cannot have the manger without the Cross.
God came near – Emmanuel. He came and took on human flesh, but He came to die. He came to give His life as an atoning sacrifice to show us that He is the King, and unlike King David, Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, and any other human ruler you might care to think of, His rule will know no end.
And we don’t say that simply because the prophets foretold it. We say it because the resurrection proved it.
On that first Easter morning the tomb was empty, and as we are told in Acts 1:3, “After His suffering, He showed Himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that He was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.”
The transformation in the lives of Jesus’ disciples after Pentecost is simply amazing. Emboldened now with Holy Spirit power, they went about their tasks of teaching and proclaiming the Kingdom of God.
These simple men lost all fear of men as they took seriously their call to witness to the truth of Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords.
The Kingdom which God has put into place will last for all of eternity.
Revelation 11:15 – “The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign for ever and ever.”
In the next chapter of Revelation we find these words: “Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: ‘Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ.”
This is where George Handel was inspired to compose ‘Handel’s Messiah.’
It breaks out with the voices of the choir growing louder and louder, more forcefully, more dramatically, as they sing the “Hallelujah Chorus.” Do you know what the word hallelujah means? The jah ending on the word is the word for “Jehovah God.” Hallelu means “Praise be to thee.”
So hallelujah means quite simply, “Praise be to God.”
Jesus is the Root of David, the stem of Jesse, the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the sacrificial Lamb slain from the foundation of the world - crucified in Jerusalem, raised from the dead, ascended to the right hand of the throne of God. He is King of kings and Lord of lords.
Who is Jesus? Is He just a cute little baby in a manger scene, or on a Christmas card, or is He your King?
The worship band Third Day is one of the top Christian bands in the world today. These are the words of one of their songs: “Who is this King of Glory, that pursues me with is love, and haunts me with each hearing of His softly spoken words? My conscience, a reminder of forgiveness that I need. Who is this King of Glory who offers it to me? Who is this King of angels, O blessed Prince of Peace, revealing things of Heaven and all its mysteries? My spirit's ever longing for His grace in which to stand. Who is this King of Glory, Son of God and son of man? His name is Jesus, precious Jesus, the Lord Almighty, the King of my heart, the King of Glory.”
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 Counsellor, 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.