Isaiah 9:6 is one of those scriptures that is closely associated with Christmas. It is a beautiful scripture... filled with the promise of an infant... a child... and a king!
But Isaiah 9:6 is more than just a scripture we read on the front of a Christmas card... it is rich in interesting history and heavy with strong imagery...
Isaiah 9:6 was written by a prophet of Israel when the young nation had been fractured in two by distentions and intrigues! The Northern Kingdom was ruled by a string of terrible ungodly kings and Ahaz (you know, Jezebel's husband) was reigning at the time of this beautiful prophesy! The date in history was about 725 BC.
Ahaz rejected God's hand of protection on Israel and instead turned to the very people that God had told them not to make an alliance with! Not only that, Ahaz led the people into idolatry and every kind of baseness... including infanticide! The people of Israel were in big, big trouble! God had tried for a very long time to woo them back to Him, but they turned away from Him in defiance!
During the time of Isaiah 9:6 God is pouring out his prophesy of judgement on the people of Israel. Judgement, not because he is a mean God... but judgement as a way to make things hard enough on them that they would return to Him... and also as a just and forewarned punishment for their disobedience.
So right in the huge mess of Israel's disobedience and God's horrific judgement... God stops... and utters words of promise and redemption and comfort!
I can just see it... God in his righteous wrath is telling the prophet what will happen to this terrible king and His disobedient people...God is making list after list of their wrongs and ways they had gone astray! He is on a roll!!!! Dolling out judgments right and left... and... all of a sudden He stops... and takes a deep breath. Love fills His face. His eyes are sad though, hurt by the rejection and sin of the people He loves so much...
He has such good news for His people... the people of judgement... He can't contain it. So right in the middle of this judgement prophesy God burst forth with the most incredibly wonderful news... news of a baby that will be born to them... a child, God's eternally existing Son that will He will give to them. He tells them that the government will rest upon this baby... this given child's shoulders... an ancient sign of a king and kingdom! This baby... this child will someday have rule over a government!
But, God was not sending just another king... this king would be anointed for the job (meaning of Messiah)!
He would be a Wonderful Counselor... One so splendidly and utterly wise...able to perfectly direct the human race.
He would be Mighty God...a strong God. This is so interesting to note, that in ancient times everyone in the known world believed in a god. How people knew who was the best or the real god was by seeing who was the strongest god! A god who showed himself powerful was surely the true god! So God is letting His disobedient people know that this ruler would be THE true God himself!
He would be Eternal Father...these words in the original text literally say "forever father". It does not mean that this king is God the Father... but that he is a forever and ever king. It is an ancient term of great Hebraic poetic beauty... this king is described as as eternal father, showing His duration of forever and ever... His "without end" royal paternity!
He would be Prince of Peace... this is the most complex and rich phrase to describe this king. The word peace in Hebrew is Shalom... it is a word that encompasses such a deep and wide meaning. Shalom is the idea of "wholeness". It is the idea of perfect rest, because we are whole and healthy in every single aspect of life. Who wouldn't be at peace in that state!
This king would be the royal mediator of perfect wholeness. And he would bring about the most important peace of all... peace between God and man! He would be the bridge to a perfect intimate and everlasting relationship of complete wholeness between His subjects and the true God!
So, in the end of this beautiful bible passage we see God in righteous judgement... literally taking a "time out" and pouring the extreme and lavish blessing of the good news like a balm over a hurting and disobedient people!
Did the news change the judgement of God?... No!
Did it turn the peoples hearts back to this God of perfect love?... No!
Did it give them a promise to cling on to?... Some maybe!
But here WE are two and a half centuries later... reading it on Christmas cards! Why?
Because this news... this good new of a coming king still applies to us!
The king has come as a baby... the son of Mary. He has come as the Son of God given by the Father. He has come and made a way for us to be eternally at Peace with God through the His death on the cross. He is the anointed king who will have a forever kingdom!
I hope this "Christmas" verse is more meaningful to you... more of a reason for true worship... more of a picture of the Author of Christmas... the Lord Jesus... the coming KING!