CHRISTMAS AND BEYOND
“For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this” (Isa.9:6-7).
The magic mantra (chant) of success in marketing is all about putting the right product in the right place, at the right price, backed by right promotion (Marketing guru E. J. McCarthy). Now can you believe it – that the Messiah, as far as His apparent earthly nature is concerned, is an irresistible mix of the 4 Ps? Confused? Let me explain.
The promised Messiah, who is to be worshipped more than anything else for His unique qualities, would be fully divine (mighty God) and fully human. Events in Jesus’ life, especially towards the end of His earthly journey, attest to this fact. There you see Him dying on the cross (Lk.23:46). Hey, can the divine die? No! His earthly body died as the atonement for sins of mankind even as His divine being was entrusted, not to the grave but into the Heavenly Father’s hands, into the ethereal realm, to perform supernatural works as the following Scripture portion proclaims, “So He went and preached to the spirits in prison— those who disobeyed God long ago when God waited patiently while Noah was building his boat” (1 Pet.3:19-20).
Besides His divine attributes, it is the magnitude of greatness in His apparent ‘human’ traits which would make us fall in love with Him again and again. Isaiah the prophet, toeing the line of a creative modern day Biblical scholar, could well have used the words omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient to capture the essence of the Messiah’s character. Why then was he guided by divine inspiration to prophetically describe the Messiah as Everlasting Father, Wonderful Counsellor, Prince of Peace, besides declaring that government would rest upon His shoulders? The answer is as simple as it is profound. For only then would the Messiah instantly and truly appeal as an ‘irresistible mix’ to the Jews, truthfully embodying the four different types of leaders in the Jewish history!
To the uninitiated, let me explain that Israeli history spanning 2000 years before the advent of Christ divides itself neatly into four parts of approximately 500 years each. At every stage of their ‘four-instalment’ history, they were led by towering personalities whom we can classify, on the basis of their calling, into four categories beginning with…what else…the letter P!
And He will be called… Everlasting Father
Any recounting of Israeli history, be it in OT or NT times, begins by first training the spotlight on the call of the greatest patriarch of them all, Abraham (Josh.24:3/Acts 7:2 KJV) who is reverently addressed by one and all as Father Abraham. Agreed, the twelve tribes may have originated from another great patriarch Jacob (Abraham’s grandson) but there was none greater than Father Abraham amongst the patriarchs for it was with him the divine covenant was made (Gen.12:1-3) and the ceremony of circumcision initiated (Gen.17:9-13). Well, Father Abraham who was mortal and rejoiced to see the first advent of the Messiah was not even born when the everlasting Father – the Great I Am – was in existence (Jn.8:56-59) from eternity.
The Jews may take pride in identifying themselves with Father Abraham, calling themselves even as his children (Matt.3:9). Be that as it may, this Christmas, how about becoming a child of infinitely greater Everlasting Father (Jn.1:12) by accepting Him into your hearts? Everyone born as a descendant of fallen Adam needs to accept Him, for all of us by birth inherit the fallen Adamic nature (Rom.5:12).
And He will be called… Wonderful Counsellor
The Oxford Dictionary would give the definition of the word counsellor as one who gives guidance. Starting with that peerless prophet Moses and ending with the redoubtable Samuel, the people of Israel for the next 500 years (after the era of patriarchs) were led by the prophets. The principal calling of any prophet is to guide the people in the ways of the Lord. Moses not only guided the people geographically all the way from Egypt to the brink of the Promised Land but also, most importantly, was the first of the prophets to guide them in the matter of holy living. (Lev.20:7-8).
Moses, bound by limitations of time and space, could not guide all the people all the time but our Messiah who excels Moses (Heb.3:3) is a wonderful Counsellor guiding us at all times by being within us (Jn.14:26;1Cor.2:11-16;1Jn.2:27) advising us in all matters, including those so private that some are known not even to our spouses! Are you listening to His still small guiding voice (Jn.10:4, 27) in all areas of your life (Isa.30:21)?
“And David perceived that the Lord had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for his people Israel's sake” (2Sam.5:12). “…the government will be on His shoulders. Of the greatness of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom” (Isa.9:6-7).
For the next 500 years after the prophet Samuel made way for the first of the Israeli kings (largely people’s choice –King Saul who faltered after a promising start), the princes would lead the people of Israel. It was under King David that the nation which began as a family 1000 years ago became a mighty empire, holding sway over the whole of Mid West Asia. King David besides being the most powerful monarch in the annals of Jewish history would also become a benchmark to his successors in the matter of obedience to the Almighty (2Chr.17:3;28:1;34:2).
What about the Messiah’s superiority over King David? Well, the latter himself calls the Messiah his Lord (Psa.110:1;Matt.22:44;Heb.1:13).
Is David’s Lord the Lord of every area of your life? Before Jesus sets up His universal millennial rule at His imminent second advent, He needs to rule first unopposed in the lives of His chosen ones, ransomed by His precious atoning blood. Before His will is done on earth as it is done in heaven (Lk.11:2 KJV), should it not be accomplished first in the life of every Christian?
And He will be called… Prince of Peace
“But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous” (1Jn.2:1).
The last 500 years of Jewish history, coinciding towards the end with the first advent of the Messiah, witnessed the leadership of priests beginning with Joshua (Ezr.2:2;3:2;Zech.3:8) and ending with capricious, self-seeking ones, the likes of Annas and Caiaphas (Lk.3:2), who were ‘yoking’ people with their own ‘heavy’ traditions, so much so the Redeemer made the clarion call, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
As per the Law, what was the primary calling of the priest? To stand in the gap and intercede for the people. He would be people’s representative before God and vice-versa. In other words, he would virtually be a peacemaker between Holy God on one side and unholy people on the other. The Messiah by His unique virgin birth alone qualifies to be the perfect peacemaker. By virtue of being the Son of Man (Lk.19:10), He would be man’s advocate before God, and by the same token, by being the Son of God (Jn.3:16) He would represent the interests of the Almighty before men. Now by shedding His precious atoning blood on the cross the Messiah has become the Prince of Peace of the entire world. (Heb.9:12).
Before He establishes world-wide peace at His second advent, Jesus is keener now on establishing the peace that passes all understanding in the heart of everyone who accepts Him as his ‘personal High Priest’. How is that done? The Holy Spirit in our hearts by His joyous presence at all times (except at the times of our disobedience) assures us that all is well between us and our Creator. Is anything more important than this realisation which at once puts our troubled minds at rest? “If the Lord is on our side, then who can be against us?” (Rom.8:31).
Those of you who have never accepted Jesus as the High Priest of your life, why delay any further? And those who have done so but have back-slidden since, isn’t the time right now for appropriating this Biblical promise in your lives, “But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness” (1Jn.1:9).
Sadly, hardened in their hearts, amongst His own people there were very few who accepted Him (Jn.1:10-11) when He came for the first time. However, the good news today for those who accept Him is that He gives them the right to become His children (Jn.1:12,13). Have you accepted Him? Then merry, merry Christmas to you, brother! Merry, merry Christmas to you, sister!