FORGET NONE OF HIS BENEFITS
volume 17, number 36, September 13, 2018
“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light.” -Isaiah 9:2
The Glory of Christ in His Incarnation
On the weekend August 3-6, from 3 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Monday, 74 people in Chicago were shot and 12 were killed by gang violence. The worst of it was a seven hour period early Sunday morning when 41 were shot. Perhaps we can agree that our prisons are awful places in great need of reform. Very few prisoners are ever rehabilitated. There must be a better way to administer Biblical justice to the convicted felon. And the corruption in the FBI and State Department is unprecedented and few on the left are taking it seriously. Watergate is child’s play compared to this travesty of justice. Furthermore, many of our urban centers are rife with government instigated poverty due to politicians skimming money meant for the poor. We can go further into doom and gloom and say that the millennial generation has largely bought into the homosexual agenda and wonder why many of us older people don’t just “lighten up.” And it appears that many of our Reformed and Presbyterian churches are in bed with The Gospel Coalition (TGC). Though sometimes presenting solid articles from a Biblical and theological perspective, The Gospel Coalition is still largely following the leftist political ideology on immigration, social justice, and the homosexual agenda (one of the TGC’s editors is a “celibate” homosexual pastor).
Are you ready, now, for some good news? We need it, don’t we? Isaiah the prophet was preaching to the nations of Israel and Judah around 730 B.C. as both faced the impending invasion, judgment, and doom of the strong, militaristic Assyrian army. Isaiah 9:1 reports (and this is confirmed by 2 Kings 15:29) that Tiglath-pileser, King of Assyria, over ran Galilee and Naphtali and took them back to Assyria and enslaved them, thus bringing darkness and gloom on the land. Sin, whether of a nation, church, family, or individual always brings darkness and gloom.
Isaiah, however, takes this dreadful and debilitating development and proclaims good news, making two significant promises in Isaiah 9, verses 2 and 3. First, the people who walk in darkness will see a great light, and secondly, their joy will know no bounds.
But why shall these promises come to God’s people? He gives three reasons why this will be the case. First, God will break the yoke of their burden, v. 4. They had been enslaved in Egypt and that enslavement had come again through the Assyrians, but He would eventually set them free. Their bondage of captivity is a picture of enslavement to sin. Secondly, God will bring peace, negating the necessary accouterments of war, v.5. The boots worn by the warrior and their blood soaked robes would be fuel for a fire. War would cease. And thirdly and most importantly, God will provide them a child, more specifically His very special son. The government of the nations would cease to rest on wicked men like King Tiglath-pileser. Instead God would send His only begotten Son and make Him ruler of all the nations of the earth (Psalm 47:6-8, Revelation 1:5). We know that Isaiah was looking far into the future for this coming king and we know this was fulfilled in the incarnation of Jesus of Nazareth, the prophesied Son of David, the only begotten Son of God who came to save His people from their sins.
And what is this new king like, the One who will bring darkness to light, the One who is the source of unlimited joy? He is the:
-Wonderful Counselor, literally He is a wonder, the Messianic King of supreme wisdom
-Mighty God, literally a heroic God, a hero whose chief characteristic is being God
-Eternal Father, the Father of eternity, One who eternally cares for His people
-Prince of Peace, One who establishes, seeks, and pursues peace for His people.
Isaiah promises that there will be no end to the increase of His government or peace. And we know that over the last two thousand years the rule and reign of Christ has spread throughout the entire world. Consider now the mighty work of grace in the conversion of millions of Hindus in India, animists in Africa, and Muslims in Indonesia, Iran, and Iraq.
There is the “now” and the “not yet” of Christ’s kingdom. Through Christ’s death and resurrection, the Father disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Jesus (Colossians 2:15). The very moment of God’s regenerating work of grace in your life, He brought the “now” of Christ’s rule and reign to your very existence. The same is true with every believer in the world. You were brought from darkness to light.
Of course you still battle indwelling sin daily as well as the temptations, ravages, hardships, and trials of the world. So you await the final consummation when the “not yet” becomes the immediate “now”. You once, dear believer, were living in darkness but now you are in the light of Christ. The yoke of your sin has been broken. You now are at peace with God. You now can know and experience joy inexpressible and full of glory.
But are you living out this peace and joy? Are you falling back into the darkness of your previous secret sin? Are you at war with your spouse, your children or parents, someone at church, someone at work? Are you enslaved to anything but Jesus? Why continue in the darkness of sin and misery when you have been set free from it? Such folly.
What must you do? You must repent. Admit your sin. Own it, confess it. Mortify it by the Holy Spirit. You must go to Jesus again and again, no doubt daily, for cleansing and the renewing grace of the Holy Spirit.
Christ’s incarnation is far more than a beautiful Christmas story. He is your life. He is your peace. He is your light. Live like it.
1. Chicago Tribune, August 6, 2018.