Where did the Christmas story begin?

Well, the shadow of Jesus Christ is seen all throughout the Old Testament. It was the prophet Isaiah, however, who gave the most eloquent and precise word on the coming Messiah, roughly 700 years before the birth of our Lord.

In Isaiah 9 the prophecy of a coming Messiah was given to the kingdom of Judah, as fulfillment of God’s promise that they would not be wiped off this earth, and in fact, the Messiah would come from the Judean people.

I wanted to discuss the first seven verses of Isaiah 9 this morning, as my Christmas offering.

Verses 6 and 7 are probably best known for their role in the Christmas story, but I think there is more to explore, especially in light of Israel’s burden, at that time.

Isaiah 9:1 AMP – “But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish [for with judgment comes the promise of salvation]. In earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He will make them honored [by the presence of the Messiah], by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles.”

The mention of Galilee is important here on a much broader level.

Galilee, where Jesus began, and spent so much of his ministry was a rather despised region by the more “pure” Jewish people of Jerusalem. Galilee, along the northern border, was inhabited by mixed race Jews and Gentiles.

As the capital, which during that time also meant the theocratic center, Jerusalem was inhabited by those “pure” and strict Jewish believers, less receptive to a revolutionary message from a simple carpenter. It was those despised “mutts” of Galilee that desperately craved what Jesus was offering.

Isaiah 9:2 AMP – “The people who walk in [spiritual] darkness Will see a great Light; Those who live in the dark land, The Light will shine on them.”

This verse refers to all of the Judeans and Israel, released from their captivity. While they may have been thinking of a military solution, Father God had something so much bigger in mind. This was spiritual captivity that they would be saved from, and it was for all people.

Isaiah 9:3 AMP – “You [O God] will increase the nation, You will multiply their joy;
They will rejoice before You Like the joy and jubilation of the harvest,
As men rejoice when they divide the spoil [of victory].”

Strong’s Concordance explains that “…increase the nation…” refers to the rapid increase of Israelites after the return from Babylon, and the spread of the new Christian church, later. As to the dividing of spoils, it is pointing to the judgment against the enemies of God and His people.

Isaiah 9:4 AMP – “For You will break the yoke of Israel’s burden and the staff (goad) on their shoulders, The rod of their oppressor, as at the [b]battle of Midian.”

The yoke would be the yoke of sin, which Jesus Christ was born to overcome by his shed blood. The battle of Midian is further prophecy about a small Israel overcoming armies controlled by the Antichrist.

Isaiah 9:5 AMP – “For every boot of the marching warrior in the battle tumult,
And [every soldier’s] garment rolled in blood, will be used for burning, fuel for the fire.”

There will be no more need for war in the coming age of peace.

Isaiah 9:6 AMP – “For to us a Child shall be born, to us a Son shall be given;
And the government shall be upon His shoulder,
And His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

How wonderful! This is the messiah! “Unto us” is meant to indicate to the Jews first (as he was born of the Jews), and then to the Gentiles. He was “given” to us, as God’s best, for our salvation.

To say the “government shall be upon His shoulder” is a nod to the ensign of one’s office that used to be worn on the shoulder of officials in that day. And whereas the Jewish people bore the yoke of their oppressors on their shoulders, the ensign worn on the shoulder of the coming messiah indicated that Father God had given control of the kingdom of Earth to him, taking it from the hands of those who had ruled it falsely and for their own benefit, before.

“His name shall be…” refers to his characteristics, as they were further described, and most specifically, as “Everlasting Father,” he was both a child, and God. While earthly rulers rule for only a time, there would be no end to his rule. He was God and king forever.

Isaiah 9:7 AMP – “There shall be no end to the increase of His government and of peace,
[He shall rule] on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness
From that time forward and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.”

Firstly, there will be no end the Messiah’s kingdom or rule. No matter what some naysayers have predicted, or are still predicting about the decrease in Christianity. Rather, the name of Jesus is and will increase and grow in this world.

Justice and righteousness refers to how the kingdom will be held. It won’t be through any military means. It won’t be force over enemies, but rather, through the righteousness of Christ.

The “zeal of the Lord of hosts” refers to spiritual battle. “Lord of hosts” is Jehovah-Tsabaoth, or Lord of God’s armies. That would be angels and all the unseen that do battle in service of God. The final line of this verse, “The zeal of Jehovah-Tsabaoth will accomplish this” is speaking of the triumph over sin and Satan, with the first coming of Jesus Christ, and also the final judgment and condemnation of the Antichrist and all those who stand as enemies of Christ.

This was the great gift given to the world by an Almighty God. A release from bondage; A release from the sin that would condemn us to lesser lives, separation from God, and final condemnation.

That was the beginning of the Christmas story – not just a story of a babe born in a manger, and a host of angels heralding his coming – but of victory in battle.

What’s more, it’s a battle fought for us and won.

Now that is a Christmas present!

I hope you all are having a wonderful Christmas, full of family, love, and fellowship.