Christine Caine - A Wonderful Promise - Part 1
Hey, everyone I am so grateful you've joined us today. I know God has a word for you. You know, if you're like me, I love receiving birth announcements. I remember when Nick and I received the announcement of the birth of a beautiful baby girl Lexi to a very special couple on our A21 team. Now, I've got to tell you we cried literal tears of joy because this couple had been trying to have a baby for 7 long and often really heartbreaking years. We stuck there with them in prayer and we were believing God, so to get this announcement was absolutely awesome. Now, we stuck that announcement on our fridge and celebrated little Lexi big time.
In fact, Nick is obsessed with this little girl. It's his God daughter. We get videos of her all the time. She has a little cell phone. She's just learning to talk and it's a plastic cell phone and she walks around Phil and Nina's kitchen and she's saying, I'm talking to Nick. I'm talking to Nick. So you can imagine Nick is like really really obsessed. But when we got that birth announcement I've got to tell you what we did we had it up there, but we studied all of the details about her birth over and over begin. It was astounding to me. This little girl like every baby on earth was a living breathing miracle, and we were so grateful to God that Phil and Nina could finally hold this miracle baby in their hands, and now, depending on the sleep levels of parents, okay, so let's be real, some people send out birth announcements as soon as the baby is born, I mean, someone gets a birth announcement. Which is what Nick and I did.
I'm hyper organized. That's what I wanted to do when we announced both Catherine and Sophia's birthed to all of our family and friends. And other people they send theirs out a little later but generally, generally I think we'd all agree birth announcements are sent out after the baby has been born. The baby has been born, then we let everybody know the baby has been born. Now I know with technology and social media, we're able to get those announcements out quicker and quicker and obviously with technology we can see a baby really really early on in a mother's womb. I know for me that feeling of going in and having an ultrasound and seeing and hearing the baby's heartbeat and then seeing the baby, it is awesome. People hold extravagant gender reveal parties.
I was walking along the beach the other night and literally there were a couple hundred people there on the beach and there was this couple and they popped the balloon and out it comes, it's a boy! It's a boy! So you're seeing gender reveal parties all over the place. But I've got to say nobody really predicts the gender and the name of a baby 700 years in advance. Now, that is unless you are the prophet Isaiah, and today what we're going to do is we're going to study a birth announcement that were sent out 700 solid years before the actual birth of the baby, a birth that was to change everything everywhere forever. Now, the text I'm about to read today is one of the most studied and celebrated Bible passages at Christmas.
Now, I love Christmas. If you're like me and we're living in America now so our Christmas tree goes up straight after thanksgiving. If my kids had their way the Christmas tree would never go down. We're one of those families. We love Christmas. We love our trees, we love the lights, we love the whole festivity associated with it so this time of year is my favorite time of the year.
Now, when the prophet Isaiah announces the arrival of a child in the book of Isaiah chapter 9 verses 6 and 7, you see something so profound. And we're going to unpack this text today. You might be familiar with this passage if you've Handel's Messiah or maybe if you've sung Christmas carols or been around church for a while. There is no doubt that you are so familiar with this passage. It says, for a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us. And the government will be on his shoulders, he will be named wonderful counselor, mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace, the dominion will be vast and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom to establish and to sustain with justice and righteousness from now and forevermore.
And I really wish with all my heart that I had the spirit of gift of singing. If I was to sing right now, it would not bless you, but as I read that passage of scripture everything in me wants to burst out in the Christmas carol, for unto us a child is born, for unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulders. So you can be very blessed on the other side of the screen that my singing voice is just for me in the shower and where I make a joyful noise to the Lord because it would not be joyful to you but it would be a noise. But anyway, Isaiah was writing this during a really turbulent time in the history of the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah when they were being threatened by the expanding Assyrian empire.
Now, during Isaiah's early time as the prophet, Ahaz was the king of Judah and was considered by many to be a really wicked and evil king. Now, it's against this backdrop, that's what was happening in the background, it was during Ahaz's rule that Isaiah received this wonderful promise about the birth of a child that would literally change everything forever. Isaiah chapter 9 verse 6, it's clearly a Messianic prophecy predicting the coming of the King of kings which was fulfilled with the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem 700 years later. I mean, now this is a birth announcement. Now, most babies have one or 2 names on their birth announcement like my kids Catherine Bobbie, Sophia Joyce Grace, 3 is kind of a lot, but Isaiah's prophecy he gives the coming king four important names. He writes that this baby will be wonderful counselor, mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.
Now, names in the Bible they are extremely important. There's no throw away names because a name not only conveys who you are but a name says something about your character so just imagine reading on a birth announcement that the baby is -well, just imagine is an excellent piano player or the baby is an amazing basketball player, or the future CEO of a major corporation, or a brain surgeon. Now, listen. As much as we all want to predict who our kids are going to be and what they're going to be doing in the future, birth announcements don't generally list accomplishments before they've even happened, and that's primarily because when a baby is born, there are no accomplishments. They're not like a brain surgeon or a doctor or a lawyer. What does a new born baby do? Apart from basically maybe suck its thumb or blinking or crying or pooping or drooling, what else does a baby do? Because that's pretty much what a baby does.
But in this text in the book of Isaiah, Isaiah actually tells us what this child will be named. But I want to make it clear before I go on, now, that doesn't mean Jesus actually bears these names. It's not like as if his mother Mary might have said, go and tell wonderful counselor that dinner is ready. It's not that she said to his brother, go tell mighty God that his dad needs him in the workshop or go tell Eternal Father that he has to finish his homework, or go tell Prince of Peace to stop bugging his little brother. No, his actual name is Jesus. His actual name is not wonderful counselor, mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Rather these names or these titles are descriptive of his character and of his nature.
He's born for who? For us. For you and for me. Jesus was fully man with a human body, and a human soul. He possessed all the qualities and all the characteristics of humanity. He was conceived in the womb of Mary. Life starts right there at the conception. He was made from her very own body. This is absolutely essential because we see in scripture that God has determined that he who rules over all of humanity as humanity's Savior must himself be human. Now, I know this is a concept to wrap your head around, but in Hebrews 2:17 we read, therefore, he had to be like his brothers and sisters in every way so that he could become a merciful and faithful high priest in matters pertaining to God to make the atonement for the sins of people. In other words, according to Hebrews 4:15 and 16, "We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness so we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in times of need".
Now I hope you catch how powerful this is. Do you realize there is no temptation, there is no trial that you or I are going through that Jesus Christ cannot understand because he himself was fully human. There is no struggle, there is not one bit of sadness with which Jesus Christ cannot sympathize. There's no hardship, there's no difficulty for which Jesus cannot provide strength to endure. Jesus basically gets us because he became one of us and this means that you and i, we can go to Jesus at any time about anything he is not some kind of distance aloof God that's disconnected from the reality of pain and struggles in our normal everyday lives in living in this fallen world. Jesus understands what it's like to be human because he was human, and he gives us strength and mercy grace in our time of need.
Now, I don't know about you but I personally am so grateful that Jesus knows what it is like to be us. And he still loves us unconditionally but it's also very important to understand he is not only a child who is born for us, he's also the son, capital s, who was given unto us. So the second thing we see is that this king is not only fully human but he's also fully divine. He is unequivocally the second person of the triune Godhead. He is God the son. He was fully God from eternity but became fully human in a point of time without ever ceasing to be God. This is one of the mysteries of being a Jesus follower. Jesus Christ was fully human but never ever stopped being fully God. I know it's a lot to wrap our minds around this Christmas, but Jesus Christ is fully God and he is fully man. He is wholly human and he is wholly divine. Both the son of a virgin peasant girl and its son of the Almighty God of the universe.
Now, this part of Isaiah's prophecy was fulfilled 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem, but the next part of this prophecy where Isaiah says that the government shall be upon his shoulders will not happen until Jesus Christ returns again. Now, I love this about Christmas, I really do, because we do not only celebrate something that happened back there 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem, but we also look forward to something that is yet to happen in the future. It is so comforting for me to know Jesus' shoulders are strong enough to bear the weight of the world. The government will be upon his shoulders. The good news is that if Jesus can bear the weight of the world, then he can surely bear our own personal burdens.
I want you to know this Christmas you do not have to carry your burdens alone. You can bring them to Jesus. We were not created to be able to carry the weight of the burdens of this world. I know that with our cell phones in our pockets and access to 24/7 news cycles we are bombarded with so much pain, so much loss, so much grief. I mean, we hear within seconds when a war breaks out or when there's a natural disaster and the fact is we just cannot bear the weight of that 24/7. We weren't created to do that. In Psalm 55:2 we read, cast your burdens on the Lord and he will sustain you. He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. Cast your burdens. In 1 Peter 5:7, we're told to cast all our burdens on him because he cares about us.
I wonder this Christmas whether you would make a decision to release all of the burden. It's been a big year. I mean, it's just been a big life, and some of you are going into this season carrying so many burdens. I wonder whether you would put them in the hands of your loving, gracious, kind, compassionate Savior? I want you to know you might think but Chris, how could God be interested in my little burden? I want you to know that if it matters to you, it matters to God. If it concerns you, it concerns God. Oftentimes we think God is just up there in heaven and all he cares about is all the big stuff. He just cares about all the global issues and he does care about all of those issues but he also cares about what's on your heart. He sees your need. He knows the desires of your heart. He knows the pain and the suffering and the things you are carrying, the worries about your children or your spouse or the fact you'd love to have a spouse or a child.
The worries you think about, how am I going to bring up my kids in this world that is just spiraling out of control? Lord, what about that job or promotion or what about that book I want to write? Is that opportunity ever going to open? I want you to know you can cast your cares upon him. Why? Because he cares for you. Have you ever thought about that, the God of the universe actually cares about you? You're not an after that. You're not an inconvenience. Some of you you've grown up in families and communities where you were always made to feel like you were just an inconvenience, that just sit in the corner and children should be just not even seen or not even heard, and if you're seen, definitely not heard, so you've grown up with this thought what I think or feel or want doesn't matter. Why would the God of the universe care about me?
I want you to know this Christmas is all about the fact the God of the universe does care about you. The God of the universe does see you and does know you. The God of the universe does care about you. Your pain, your suffering, your burden, your hurt. God, God became man, a human. That's what the incarnation is all about us. Emmanuel, God with us. Christmas is all about the witness of God, that God left the comfort of heaven to step into a broken world, to bring forgiveness and peace and joy and abundant life and purpose. That's how much he cares. So I want to invite you and we're going to pick up next week and continue with this series, but I want to invite you during this Christmas season to put it all out there before God, to cast your care. Now, you know, if you've ever been fishing, I'm not really a fisher woman but I love walking out by the ocean and I often see people fishing. And when they take their fishing rod and they cast that rod, they cast it out and they hurl it. In fact, the Greek word for that is to hurl.
Now, for some that might be the imagery of if you've ever thrown up you hurl in Australia, we say that. But it's that kind of force. You hurl. You thrust. And God is saying to us this Christmas, you know what? You can hurl, you can thrust, dare I even take the image a little bit further, you can vomit your worries all over God. Some of us we contain them. We sit on them. We get anxious because we think I can't put this all out there before God but I'm here to tell you God already knows. He knows what's going on. He knows what you think, and the Psalms in the scripture gives us permission to just put it out there. Have you ever read some of those Psalms? I mean, David just goes for it. He just goes for it often.
And the other writers of the Psalm they just lay it all out there before God. God can handle your lament and your pain and your concerns and your frustrations and your anger and your grief and your loss. You can hurl it upon him because only his shoulders are broad enough to be able to carry the weight of that. You and I were not created to bear the burden of this world, to carry the wait weight of the world on our shoulders. We place it on his shoulders. The scripture says unto us a son is born. Unto us a child is born. God, fully human, he gets us. Unto us a son is given. God gave us his son, fully divine. And the government shall be upon his shoulders. You don't have to bear the burden of it. Jesus Christ took the burden of the world on his shoulders 2,000 years ago at Calvary. So today during this Christmas season, make a decision to cast all your cares upon him because he cares for you.