by Lasserre Bradley, Jr., Baptist Bible Hour
God’s judgment is just as terrible as his salvation is wonderful. Nowhere is this made clearer than in the Isaiah 9, as the Lord describes in vivid detail the impending doom that He will bring to those who have continued in rebellion against Him:
“The Lord shall set up the adversaries…against him, and join his enemies together …and they shall devour Israel with open mouth. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still” (9:11,12).
Describing here a judgment in which an entire nation is devoured, or “eaten alive” as we might say, God says even this destruction will not satisfy His righteous anger against them. His anger is still not turned away; his hand of judgment is still not finished inflicting punishment. In verse 19, God says that “the people shall be as the fuel of the fire,” yet again the phrase is repeated: “For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still” (21). In other words, no amount of temporal punishment can satisfy the eternal justice of a holy God. Even after we are brought to the grave, God’s anger against sinners is not satisfied, is not finished.
It is in the midst of this stark reality that we read the promise that Handel’s Messiah has so famously, memorably, and beautifully celebrated: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (verse 6). And with the backdrop of God’s insatiable justice, we are made all the more appreciative of this prophecy.
Unto Us a Child Is Born
Just two chapters before, Isaiah had stated that “the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (7:14). Immanuel means “God with us.” We might expect, though, that the sign that God himself—Creator, King, and Judge—had come to live among us would be mountains melting (like at Sinai), sinners being slain (like Uzzah coming in contact with the ark), and the glory of God forcing us all to our faces (like at Solomon’s temple dedication). But instead the sign—all the more remarkable for its unexpectedness—will be a virgin-born baby.
Larry King, the talk show host, was once asked who he would most want to interview if he could choose any historical figure. He replied, “Jesus Christ.” The questioner then inquired, “What would you like to ask Him?” King said, “I would like to ask Him if He was indeed virgin-born. The answer to that question would define history for me.” Truly, this sign was so striking, so unmistakable that unbelievers millennia later would still recognize the force of it.
And when Jesus Christ fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy by being born to the virgin Mary, angels would reiterate the truth that this miraculous child was born “unto us” by declaring: “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Not for angels was this sacrifice made, not to perfect people was this gift given, but this child was born into the world to save sinners from their sin (Matthew 1:21).
And so here’s the point that Paul draws from God’s gracious gift of His Son: “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).
Jesus does wonders, as God incarnate: “Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” (Exodus 15:11).
But Jesus does not just do wonders, He is wonderful!
Jesus is the only human being in all of history, who was able to choose the time, place and circumstances of His birth. And what does He choose? He chooses the scandal of illegitimacy, as He was conceived out of wedlock. He chooses an uncomfortable one to two week journey for His parents from Nazareth to Bethlehem for a census. He chooses to be born not in a palace, but a draughty stable in the middle of the stench of animal faeces and urine. Just imagine as that little baby - Jesus - drew His first breath, the Son of God's nostrils were filled with the stench of animal excrement. So ... what does this say about the God who chooses these circumstances for Himself? "The Father's Heart for You this Christmas" by Berni Dymet
They sang, the story out, for they could not stay to tell it in heavy prose. They sang, "Glory to God on high, and on earth peace, good will towards men." Me thinks they sang it with gladness in their eyes; with their hearts burning with love, and with breasts as full of joy as if the good news to man had been good news to themselves. And, verily, it was good news to them, for the heart of sympathy makes good news to others, good news to itself. "The First Christmas Carol" by C.H. Spurgeon
This is the message of Christmas! It is God's gift to the world that attaches meaning to our tradition of exchanging Christmas gifts. It is in giving, as God gave, that we discover the true spirit of Christmas. Let us meditate for a moment on what it was that God gave the world that first Christmas. "The Greatest Gift" by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.
Source: OneVoice Devotional
John Chrysostom Homily on Matthew 1:22-23
"Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the Prophet, saying, Behold, a Virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel."
The Audacity of Christmas by Mike Pohlman
Christmas marks the "fullness of time" when God, in his sovereign freedom, "sent forth his Son." The One who dispenses times and seasons determined that it was time to send forth the Son who had existed with the Father from eternity.
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