The prophet Isaiah, spoke of the birth of Jesus Christ over 700 years before Jesus was born according to those who followed Him in the 1st Century. There should be no doubt that the man, Jesus of Nazareth, born in Bethlehem, was an actual historic figure. That the man, Jesus, lived and died on a cross and had a great following is also a historic fact.
Consider, then the actual words of the prophet, Isaiah:
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. (Isaiah 9:6-7)
At the end of this blog article is another, later, prophetic word spoken by Isaiah. The application to the historic figure of Jesus is uncanny, if it is not God speaking through Isaiah centuries before the life and death of this man, Jesus.
Followers of Jesus believed that He was the Messiah, the Christ in Greek, who was foretold by Isaiah. “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means “God with us”). (Says Matthew 1:22-23, quoting Isaiah 7:14) According to His followers, then and now, Jesus was the fulfillment of the promises of God made hundreds of years before His birth and is the fulfillment of the promises of God yet to come.
Those followers describe what they believe God did this way: In the fullness of time, God emptied Himself and entered into the history of His own creation. (Phil. 2:6-7) The angel appeared to Mary and gave her the news that Isaiah foresaw, echoing his words:
And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:31-33)
And it would not just be that this Christ child would come for the lineage of Jacob and David; He would come for all mankind. These words were spoken, not to the lineage of David, but to the wise men who came from the east who saw the sign in the sky and set out to meet the destiny of all mankind:
For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11)
And to Joseph, the angel said of the child to whom his betrothed would give birth, “He will save His people from their sins”. (Matt. 1:20) The followers of Jesus came to understand that “His people” are those who turn to Him, not just of the lineage of which this Jesus was born, but of every tribe and nation.
For all people, it is said that God wishes that none would perish “but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) For this reason, God emptied Himself and became a man, “and being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (vv. 10-11)
And the followers of this Christ believe that the story is still unfolding these twenty centuries later..” (Phil. 2:8) We celebrate a God who loved us so much that he let go of His great glory and power as Creator of all things to become one of us, to walk humbly among us. And He did not just take on human form; He came to us in the most humble way, being born as a vulnerable child, like us. He was born not into human royalty, but to a humble family who, though humble in estate, were of the royalty God established long ago: a lineage God established to bear the Christ child who would save mankind from their sins.
“Sin” means literally, “to miss the mark”. And the message is that, without Jesus, we miss the mark; we are not in right relationship to God. We are set at enmity with God by our own attitudes and insistence on our own way.
Through Jesus, God showed us Himself: a Creator who loves His creation and desires for everlasting fellowship with us, willing to become like us and even to die for us. And Jesus also showed us how we should follow Him:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Phil.2:5-9)
And this is the promise:
‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, ‘Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ (Romans 10:8-13)
Accepting, receiving what Jesus did, sacrificing Himself on the cross, redeeming us (literally paying the price for our sins), and believing in Him, counting on Him for the salvation He freely offers, is how we humble ourselves; it is how we enter into the promise God gives us, making us children of God.
Isaiah foretold the coming of Christ over 700 years before he entered into human history. The promise of God to put the government on His shoulders has come, and is yet to come. It has come for those who have accepted the salvation He has offered and embraced Jesus as Lord and Savior. The governance of the creation is yet to come.
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil.2:10-11)
Until that final day when the creation as we know it ends,”the Lord is not slow about His promise, … but is patient toward [us].” (2 Peter 3:9). For with God, a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like a day. (2 Peter 3:8) God, who stands outside of time and space, as the uncreated Creator of the Universe, sees the beginning and the end and all that is in between.
The followers of this Jesus believe these things that have been foretold, and the promises of God yet to pass. The world waited over 700 years after Isaiah told of the coming of the Christ, the Messiah. The world now waits in anticipation for the governance of that Christ in heaven and earth.
[Y]ou should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:2-4)
The patience of the Lord allows us time to enter in.
This Christmas day, when we celebrate the fulfillment of the prophet’s words, the coming of the Messiah, we should look forward to the fulfillment of the rest of the story. This world is not all there is. There is more to the story. This world and this life is temporal.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. (2 peter 3:9-10)
Are you ready? Consider these words that Isaiah spoke many centuries before the life of Christ became a reality:
1 Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
4 Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied ;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.