A gift of divine grace (a #TBT post)

Rembrandt’s “Adoration of the Shepherds”

It doesn’t look promising for the people of Judah.

From Isaiah 7:18 through the end of chapter 8, it’s a message of despair. Armies will march. People will be humiliated. The population will be diminished to the point that just a couple of animals can provide enough food. They will find themselves oppressed by the nation to whom they turned for help. Spiritually, they will turn from God seeking the advice of spiritualists and the occult.

The dismal news comes to a climax in Isaiah 8:22: “And they will look to the earth, but behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish. And they will be thrust into thick darkness.”

But … (don’t you love it when God says, “but.”) … into the darkness comes a great light.

These people who experienced an oppressive darkness now know a joy so overwhelming that even the word “joy”, or a form of the word (rejoice), is used in three consecutive lines of verse 3.

In verse 4, we find the first reason for their joy. They have been released from oppression from their human tormentors.

For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff for his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
(Isaiah 9:4 ESV)

The next verse tells us that the advent of peace is another reason for their joy.

For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire. (Isaiah 9:5 ESV)

Then, comes the final – and greatest – reason for their joy and it is a joy that extends to all people.

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
(Isaiah 9:6 ESV)

No human king could ever be all of these things. He couldn’t offer perfect, wise counsel while acting as our fatherly protector. Few leaders could rightfully be called completely peaceful and none could be called God.

One child, however, could.

And that’s why this verse shows up on Christmas cards every year.

Only the divine Son of God, wrapped in human flesh, could be all of these things for all people. He is, as the ESV Study Bible beautifully puts it, “a gift of divine grace to sinners.”

That means he’s a gift to you. And to me.

We, too,  can call Him by each of those names.

Prince of Peace.

Everlasting Father.

Mighty God.

Wonderful Counselor.

The Child born to us …

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These Throwback Thursday (#TBT) posts are some of my favorites from previous blogs presented here with only the slightest editing. This post originally appeared on an older blog on October 9, 2012.

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