Christine Caine - A Wonderful Promise - Part 2
Hey, everyone, I am so grateful that you've joined us today. I know that God has a word for you. I love this time of the year. I mean, we are in the Christmas season and you've picked a great day to tune in. We are talking about a prophecy that was given 700 years before Jesus was born prophesying about the birth of our Messiah. I mean, we celebrate this Christmas season. It's all about Jesus. You've heard it said before. Jesus is the reason for the season. And you kind of go, "Okay, how does that all fit together"? Well, in Isaiah 9:6, the scripture says, "For a child will be born for 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". It goes on in verse seven, "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 sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever. The zeal of the Lord of armies will accomplish this".
Now, I don't know about you, but this has me wanting to run laps. I mean, I know when I read that scripture, some of you are thinking of Handel's Messiah, others of you, you are thinking of Christmas carols and you're wondering if I'm going to burst forth in song. But that is not going to bless you if I do that, but it is still my favorite Christmas carols, for unto us a child is born. Unto us a son is given and the government will be upon his shoulders. And last week at the first part of this series we talked about and we unpacked, what does that mean that unto us a child is born and a son is given and that the government will be upon his shoulders? Very, very, very significant when a birth announcement goes out and when it declares the character of who that person is going to be, you listen and you get excited. And we know that God was at all times, Jesus Christ as the Son of God was at all times fully God. But he came to earth and became fully man. And because of that, he gets us. He gets us because he walked on this earth as one of us. The other name we see listed is wonderful counselor.
Now, the way we often use that word, wonderful counselor, it's a little bit different to the way that Isaiah uses that word in this scripture. You know, when we tend to use the word wonderful, we mean that something is good or something is excellent. Like, let me give you an example. Like I might say, "I had a wonderful time last night," and I'm often going to say that, meaning I had a good time. I had a wonderful time, it was awesome. But when Isaiah describes the coming king as wonderful, he means more than just this thing was good or excellent. I'm definitely, definitely not a scholar or an expert. But as I was studying for this message I discovered that in the original language, for the word wonderful is Pele, P-E-L-E. Pele is used in Psalm 78:12, which says that God did wonders in the sight of their fathers in the land of Egypt. In other words, it means that God is a doer of miracles.
And so if God is a doer of miracles, of marvelous and wonderful things which are way beyond our human ability and our human understanding, then when we read the gospels and we see the life of Jesus and the teachings of Jesus and the wisdom of Jesus and the signs and the wonders and the miracles that Jesus performed, it's evident that Jesus is the fulfillment of this prophecy. He was truly wonderful. He performed wonders and signs and miracles. Now the role of a counselor is to impart wisdom and to impart experience in order to lead people from darkness and confusion and chaos into light and also to lead people out of danger into safety. So this is what Jesus actually does for you and for me. And this is why he is the wonderful, awesome, miraculous counselor. He brings light into our darkness and he guides and he directs us in the chaos of this world.
Now you and I are living in a day where so many are encouraged to seek out counselors and therapists. And if you know me, you know that I'm a big believer in both of these things and I'm all about it. But as important as it is to seek out help and wisdom and guidance and counsel from other people and from specialists and people trained and professionals, you know what I want to remind us all of today is that you and i, if we are in Christ, we actually have access to a wonderful counselor. His counsel is unfailing, his counsel is flawless, and he gave us his word, which is full of wise counsel.
I want to remind you today that Jesus is the one who understands us when nobody else on earth gets us. Jesus is the one who stands by us when everybody else turns away from us. Jesus is the one who really can help us confront the past and begin again in life. Why? Because Jesus faced what we face, and therefore he understands the experience that you and I go through. He understands our tears, he understands the deepest needs of our heart, our deepest desires, our heartbreaks and our heartaches, and our longings and our yearning. And he also has the power to help us. Every single one of us, without exception, battles with various kinds of weaknesses and vulnerabilities in life and strongholds and dysfunctions in life. Jesus Christ knows our human frailties, so we can be totally honest, we can be totally transparent, we can be totally vulnerable with him. When we go to him for help we don't have to sugarcoat it. We don't have to hide it. We can come as we are because he already knows.
So I wonder, would you go to God with everything that is weighing you down? You are not going to shock God with your weaknesses. You don't have to clean yourself up to go to God. He came to us. That's what this whole season is about. God's not fragile. Jesus can handle anything that we bring to him. And you know what? He can help us to find a path through our pain, through our suffering, through our torment, through our questions, through our temptations. You don't have to pretend with God. You could talk to him about your relational issues, about your trust issues, about your doubts and your fears and your insecurities.
Wherever you're sitting right now in that lounge room, in that hospital room, perhaps in that prison cell, you could talk to God about whatever is going on on the inside of you. Bring it all to him. Be brutally honest with him. Your God sees, he knows, and he cares. He's a wonderful, awesome, miracle-working counselor. Isaiah goes on to say that he is the mighty God. Now, this means that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus. He is holy. He's infinite and sovereign over all. That to me is so comforting. It just doesn't get any more powerful than that. When you are holy, when you are infinite, when you are sovereign over all of things in the universe, now that's power. Now that is authority. And yet Jesus, the one who has all power, Jesus, the one who has all authority, actually turned our notions of power upside down, both in the place where he was born and in the very way that he lived his life.
Not only was his birth less than extravagant to say the least, Jesus really messed with our notions of power and authority. He himself declared that the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. You know, in Philippians chapter two verse five to 11, in that beautiful, powerful poem, Paul exhorts us to adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, who existing in the form of God did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. Instead, he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity, and when he had come as a man he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even to death on a cross. For this reason, God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every other name so that at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
You know, that was one of the first things that I memorized when I became a Jesus follower over three decades ago. Really, the book of Philippians is where I started, but I've never forgotten that, that Jesus Christ, who was God, took on the form of a servant, humbled himself and he expects us as his followers to be the same. What an example for each and every one of us to follow, a mighty king who reveals himself to us in love and humility. Isn't that different to so much of the spirit that's in the world today? So much of that spirit that wants to have all power and all authority and make all the decisions and to be served rather than serve. The nature of Jesus is so antithetical to all of our worldly notions of power and authority. Jesus was one who did not come to be served, but to serve other people.
I think in the day in which we live if we could model that for the world around us, we'd bring a whole lot more peace and joy, which is the whole message of Christmas, into a very lost and a broken, narcissistic, chaotic, divided, angry world. Everyone just out for their own thing. Everyone want to climb to the top of some imaginary ladder and make all the decisions and have everyone do. Could you just imagine if we, like Jesus, took on the form of a servant, if we served people and loved people rather than wanting to Lord it over people? It's interesting to me, a third way that Jesus is described in this passage in Isaiah chapter nine verse six is that he's called the Eternal Father.
Now this of course said, this is a really important distinction to make. This is not speaking of God the Father, the first person of the Trinity, the father, son, and the Holy Spirit. So father, the word father, is a name given to king Jesus that describes the role that he will fulfill over humanity. Jesus is fatherly and father-like over us. He is not God the Father. Jesus provides love and security and protection and provision. He's so tender and so full of the compassion and sensitivity of an you know, I know that we all have our own story, and every single one of us on the other side of the screen has an experience of an earthly father, and perhaps yours was awesome. I know my husband is a awesome father to our daughters. Their testimony is going to be fantastic in that area. But I know that for many today, the word father can be really triggering. It really, really can be triggering for you.
But I want you to know today that your Eternal Father cannot be anything but good. He is kind, he is loving, he is gracious, he is compassionate, he is merciful, he is forgiving. He protects us, he guides us, he supports us. He encourages us. I want you to know your Heavenly Father is not distant or mad or bad. He's light. The Bible says God is light and in him there is no darkness. I want you to know that God has no dark side. You can trust God if you are from a background like mine, a background of sexual abuse. You know, I needed to know that God had no dark side. It was so important to me to know that God was light and in him there is no darkness, 'cause a lot of other people stepped into my life and pretended to be one thing and they had a really dark side. So I get it. I get why that might be triggering for some of you, but I want you to know God is not like that. He is light and in him there is no darkness. You can trust God. You can trust him. Finally, Isaiah tells us that this coming king will be the Prince of Peace.
Now, I want to remind you that this prophecy was spoken to a people who were under threat from their enemies, real live enemies. The tension was high, their enemies were attacking them and their own leader, Ahaz, was so corrupt and he was so evil. Their lives were full of darkness, full of chaos, full of divisiveness, and full of fear. I mean, we see this on the earth today. Can you even imagine what it must have been like to hear this prophetic declaration that a child is going to be born to us and that his name will be called Prince of Peace. These people would've been desperate for some peace in their lives. And I imagine every single one of us is desperate for this peace as well. Our world is so divided, there is so much chaos, there is so much pain, there is so much suffering. We are living in such turbulent times, personally, politically, economically, relationally, environmentally, and spiritually.
It seems like each and every time we just come up for air, there's some new chaotic situation that arises that sends us all into a tailspin. It's been a relentless few years and I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say, "Chris, I just want some peace in my life". Maybe on the other side of the screen, that's you. "Chris, I just want some peace". I know that during this time of the year it can just be extra chaotic, actually. Christmas is anything but peaceful for you. Things are crazy with everyone's schedules leading up to Christmas, like we have to go and get everything done and we're constantly on the go. We try to get all the presents done and get them wrapped. We have to get them under the tree and, you know, without the dog ripping off all the wrapping paper and we have to get the house cleaned up and get the decorations done and all the meals made and we have to somehow get to everybody's grandmother's house and everything can just be chaotic.
Some of you are dreading the extended family get-togethers that you are facing because you know it's just going to basically be another episode of Jerry Springer at that place. So instead of being a peaceful time for so many people, it's seriously just a time full of anxiety and stress. I know that our A21 team from Ukraine desperately wants peace. Man, we've got staff living in Warsaw that have not seen their spouses or parents for over a year. Children that have not seen their father for a solid year. They will not even get to hold them or hug them this Christmas. So many milestones are being missed in the lives of these families because of war, which is the most obvious example of the absence of peace.
So can you even imagine their pain and their suffering? It breaks my heart. The whole world feels anxious right now and on the verge of literally losing it. There's something palpable in the air no matter what continent I visit. Homes and families are full of conflict. Workplaces are full of tension. Social media is making people lose their minds. There's relentless pain and suffering and loss and betrayal and disappointment, and we've got to navigate it all. And we are wondering, when are we just going to get some peace in our lives? The truth is that if we keep waiting for things to get better externally and find peace, it's not likely that it's going to happen this side of eternity. And that is why we must personally invite the Prince of Peace to take up residence in our hearts and in our minds. True peace can only be found in Jesus and true peace flows from the inside out of us and not from the outside in. If your peace is determined on the external conditions, then you will lose your peace every time you lose control of your circumstances.
Now, I don't know if there's anything more important this Christmas than knowing the Prince of Peace himself. Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace because through his sacrifice on the cross, we are made right with God and can experience peace with God. Ultimately, it's only through Jesus that we can experience the peace that surpasses all understanding. And that is something every single one of us longs for. The Hebrew word for peace is shalom, which means completeness, wholeness, well being, health, peace, and harmony. True biblical shalom means an inward sense of completeness or wholeness. So peace is not about the absence of trouble from our lives, because we all know that it's not possible. Peace is about the reassurance that no matter what we face in life, Jesus is with us.
Paul writes in Ephesians 2:14 that for he is our peace who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility in his flesh. Let those words wash over you today. Jesus Christ himself is our peace. Yes, a day is coming when he will establish peace among the nations and subdue all opposition to his rule. But now in the present, he is here on your behalf to bring peace and joy and tranquility and calm to your heart. Jesus himself said, "I have said these things to you that you in me may have peace in the world. You will have tribulation. Take heart, for I have overcome the world". So in all the business that accompanies our run up to Christmas during this advent season, I want to encourage you to take time to welcome king Jesus who has come and is coming again afresh in your life as the wonderful counselor, the mighty God, our Everlasting Father, and our Prince of Peace. In Jesus' name.