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What Child Is This? - Part 3

Tom Pennington Isaiah 9:6-7


William Dix was the son of a British surgeon. He worked in Glasgow, Scotland as the manager for an insurance company. In the year 1865, at 29 years of age, William Dix almost died from an illness. His near-death experience changed him completely. Suddenly, at 29, he began to get serious about life and death and eternity. And while he was recovering, he began to read his Bible. He was converted. He became a follower of Jesus Christ, and it inspired him to start writing hymns. That year, in the year 1865, he wrote a song that was published some six years later.

The lyrics were eventually married to a popular 250-year-old tune, some even say was written by Henry VIII entitled “Green Sleeves.” His Christmas carol considers the birth of Jesus Christ from the vantage point of the shepherds who first saw Him in the Christmas story we just read. Here are the lyrics: “What child is this who laid to rest on Mary’s lap is sleeping, whom angels greet with anthems sweet while shepherds watch are keeping. What child is this?” And here was his answer: “This, this is Christ [Messiah] the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing. Haste, haste to bring Him laud, the babe, the son of Mary.”

Such a powerful reminder that the child whose birth we celebrate today is Messiah the King. On this Christmas morning, I want us to finish our study of the most familiar of all the Christmas prophecies. If you haven’t been with us, you’ll have to catch up to speed with us. But let’s go back to the book of Isaiah, Isaiah 9, the most famous of all of the prophecies in the Old Testament about Jesus, given by the prophet Isaiah some 700 years before Jesus was born. And this prophecy tells us that Jesus of Nazareth is in fact Christ the King.

Let’s read it together, Isaiah 9. I just want to look at two verses, verses 6 and 7. “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD [Yahweh] of hosts will accomplish this.”

As I’ve noted for you the last couple of weeks, the major point of this prophecy is that God is going to rescue those who believe in Him from both their sin and its consequences. And He’s going to do so through a great King who Isaiah says would come. Of course, at Christmas we celebrate the birth of that king. Verses 6 and 7 tell us, though, what our king and what His reign are like. In these verses Isaiah presents three defining qualities of Jesus Christ our Lord. In this passage we don’t just learn about the events of Christmas, but how our Lord relates to all of those who are His people yesterday, today, and forever. This is what His rule is like.

We’ve already looked at a couple of them. Let me just remind you, and for those of you who are guests, bring you up to speed. The first quality about Jesus Christ we discover in this prophecy is His unique nature. His unique nature. He is, first of all, a human person. Verse 6 begins, “For a child will be born to us.” We talked about the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ. The truth is, it was a miraculous conception, but His birth was just like yours and mine. He was born as a human child. He is, in fact, today still a human person, just like you are, in every way you are except for sin.

But that isn’t all that His nature was composed of. Not only is He a human person, but, secondly, He is God’s eternal Son. Verse 6 goes on to say, and this isn’t a redundancy; this is making a fresh point. “A son will be given to us.” God gave His eternal Son to us in the form of Jesus of Nazareth. He existed always with God as God, John says, but He was given to us in Bethlehem. He is a human person, but he’s God’s eternal Son.

The third part of His unique nature is that He is the universe’s king. That’s what that next line means in verse 6, “And the government [literally, the authority to rule] will rest on His shoulders...” He is the only person in the universe who has the ultimate right to rule over everything and everyone, over me, over you, over the universe. He is the universe’s King. That’s His unique nature. But notice His unique character. This is the second defining quality that we began last week - His unique character. Isaiah captures the character of our King, the character of Jesus of Nazareth, in four amazing names. Notice verse 6: “And His name will be called...” This doesn’t mean these will actually be His names. Instead, it means these things are so true of Him, that it would be perfectly appropriate to call Him these things.

So, last week, we discovered the first of those names. He will be a wonderful counselor. Literally, He’ll be “a wonder of a counselor”. He’s a supernatural counselor. We all need, desperately need, counsel as we walk through this world with all of the decisions that need to be made. But beyond the individual decisions that we need to make, counsel for how to live life here, counsel for how to know God, counsel for how to be with God, how to be reconciled to God. And Jesus provides all of that. Jesus Christ is the source of all wisdom for His people. And where is that wisdom contained? It’s contained in this book. The first, or excuse me, the second chapter of 1 Corinthians says in this book we have the mind of Jesus Christ. You want to know what His counsel is about anything that matters to you? It’s here in this book. He is a wonderful counselor.

Secondly, we discovered last week that His character is Mighty God. “His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God...” The Messiah would be human. He’s a child that would be born, but He would also be God. This word, the Hebrew word is El, and it’s E-L. And the only way Isaiah ever uses that word is of the true living God. So, this child who would be born as a human would be God. But the word “mighty”, the Hebrew word “mighty”, is a fascinating word. It’s a word that refers not just to power, but to power expressed, to someone who is a champion, a hero, a warrior. We sang it in the song this morning, “He is our mighty champion.” That’s the idea behind this phrase. He’s the divine hero, the divine champion, the divine warrior who redeems, defends, and protects His people. He is, if you’re a follower of His, He is your hero. He is your champion. He’s the one, the only one who can get you out of all of the messes that you have made with your life and that I’ve made with mine.

Today we come to a third description of Jesus Christ our King. Notice again how He’s described - “Eternal Father”. Now, as we did last week, I want to start before we look at the provision that comes in Christ, I want to start by analyzing our need.

Why do we need Jesus to be like an Eternal Father to us? Well, Jesus Himself said, in John 8, that all of us are born children of the devil. I was, you were, that’s what Jesus said. You’re a child of the devil until you become a child of God. Those are the only two options. We’re all born that way. And our father, by nature, Jesus said, Satan, he deceives, he lies to his children, he uses them, he brutalizes them, he enslaves them, he tricks them into thinking that what he has to offer is somehow going to satisfy and it always destroys. We’re surrounded by people who are just like him. Human beings desperately need a real loving father instead of the one that we were born with who hates us and seeks to destroy us.

We need a father to provide for our physical and spiritual needs, which is what human fathers are supposed to do. Matthew 7:11, Jesus said, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children...” Even flawed human fathers provide for their children. We need that spiritually. Deuteronomy 6:7 - God puts it on a spiritual front as well. “You shall teach [God’s Word] them diligently to your sons...” We don’t only need physical provision; we need spiritual provision.

We need a father to provide for our physical and spiritual needs. We need a father to treat us with compassion. Psalm 103:13: “Just as a father has compassion on his children...” He looks at that little one and there’s a heart of compassion that he has toward that little helpless, defenseless child. We need a father like that for all of us.

We need a father to discipline us. Proverbs 3:12 says, “For whom the Lord loves He reproves, Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.” The truest indication that you don’t love your children is that you don’t direct them, you don’t discipline them, you don’t try to direct them toward God, their Creator. We need a Father to love us.

Perfect example of how a Father should respond to His child is how God, the Father, responds to His Son. Listen to John 3:35: “The Father [Jesus says] loves the Son...” The Father loves the Son. That’s the human need we have, you have, for a spiritual Father. We’re all adrift, left to ourselves, with Satan as our Father.

So, what is Christ’s provision for that need? Well, His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father. The Hebrew literally reads, “The Father of Eternity.” The Father of Eternity. Now, that clearly speaks of the duration of our King’s rule. It’s eternal. But that’s not all it means. We could paraphrase the Hebrew this way, “One who is eternally a father to us.” One who is eternally a father to us. Now, don’t misunderstand, this is not some confusion in the nature of God. Isaiah doesn’t mean that Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, suddenly becomes the first member of the Trinity and becomes God the Father. That’s not what he’s saying. Scripture is clear that there is one God, eternally existing in three persons - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and those persons are always distinct. Instead, the expression “Eternal Father” describes our Lord’s attitude and His disposition toward His people. Now and forever, He acts toward them like a father.

When we say that, when we say that Jesus eternally acts toward those who are His followers like a father, here’s what we mean. First of all, we mean that Jesus loves us, like a father loves his children. John 13:1 - I love the way as Jesus begins the last night before His death, the Thursday night before His death, John records this: “...having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” Doesn’t mean to the end of His life. The Hebrew expression - the Greek word telos, has the idea of to the nth degree, to the maximum. And of course, He would prove that on the next day. He loves His people. John 14:21, Jesus says, “...he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” John 15:9, “Just as the Father has loved Me [Jesus says], I have also loved you...” That’s an amazing statement. “As the Father has loved me,” Jesus said, “I have also loved you.” And of course, the greatest proof of that was at the cross. In Ephesians 5:2, Paul writes, “and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us...” So, when we think about Him acting toward us as a father, He loves us as a father loves his children, if you’re His follower, if you’re His disciple.

Secondly, Jesus shows genuine concern and compassion for His people. Turn over to Isaiah 40. There’s another prophecy here about our Lord and when He would come, what His manner, His disposition would be like. Isaiah 40:9, just after the prophecy of John the Baptist announcing Jesus, earlier in the 40th chapter, we find this in verse 9 of Isaiah 40: “Get yourself up on a high mountain, O Zion, bearer of good news [of the gospel], Lift up your voice mightily, O Jerusalem, bearer of good news; Lift it up, do not fear. Say to the cities of Judah, ‘Here is your God!’“ And here’s a description of how God will come in the person of his Son: “Behold, the Lord GOD will come with might, With His arm ruling for Him. Behold, His reward is with Him And His recompense before Him.” In other words, He’s going to reward those who are His and He’s going to act in judgment on those who are not. But verse 11, this is how our Lord treats those who are His: “Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs And carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.” You just see the compassion and the tenderness God has, in Christ, toward His people. Christ has genuine concern and compassion. Isaiah 42:3-4: ”A bruised reed He will not break And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish...” In other words, when there’s just something faint left, He doesn’t break it. He doesn’t extinguish it. He doesn’t throw it away. There are no disposable people to Jesus Christ. Instead, He exercises care and compassion.

Thirdly, Jesus provides for our needs. There are a number of verses, but this is a familiar one. Philippians 4:19, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory [and how will He do this?] in [or through] Christ Jesus.” If you’re a follower of Jesus Christ, He’s taken up a responsibility to make sure your needs are met. That doesn’t mean we never go through hard times or lean times. He uses those as well, but it means that He will never abandon His responsibility to care for you.

And Jesus corrects us. Revelation 3:19, He says to the church there, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.” If you’re one of His, then He’s going to discipline you. If you start living in a pattern of unrepentant sin and you’re truly a Christian, He’s going to step in. He’s going to discipline you for your good, just as a loving, earthly father disciplines his children for their long-term good. Of course, if you’re not His, then He’s not going to discipline you. You don’t discipline other people’s kids. But if you’re His, He will. He is always a father to us.

You know, let’s just be honest. I think we’re often afraid, even of those of us who are believers, to think of Christ in this way that He’s like a father to us. And I also need to say that sadly for many, this picture of Jesus as a father has been terribly damaged by sinful or even abusive fathers. But most of us know a great human father, someone that we think of, if I could arrange it, I would love to be that kind of father or I would love to have had that kind of father. Think of that person for a moment and then realize that that person is a faint shadow of the reality of how Jesus treats His people, of how He treats you, if you’re His follower. There’s incredible tenderness and love and comfort in Jesus’ name, “Eternal Father”, always treating us as a loving father treats his children. This is how He’ll think of us and treat us forever in the new heavens and the new earth. He is the Father into eternity.

The fourth name of our Lord back in our text, in Isaiah 9 is, “Prince of Peace”. Prince of Peace. Again, let’s consider briefly the human need. Why do we need a prince who is characterized by peace, who is by nature the prince of peace? Why do we need that? It is because by nature, as each of us is born, we are born at war with God. We’re born at war with God. We don’t like to think of it this way. Most of us like to think God and us are tight, you know, that He’ll be there when we need Him. And, you know, I can ignore Him most of the time, but if I need Him, I can call, and He’ll come and He’ll help. But that’s not how God sees it. Here’s the apostle Paul in Romans 5:10. He says unbelievers are the enemies of God. That’s God’s perspective. If you haven’t believed in His Son, you and He are not okay. You’re His enemy. And in fact, Romans 8:7 says, “because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God...” If you’re not a follower of Jesus Christ, your mind is hostile. There is a deep-seated antagonism between you and God. Why? Well, Romans 8:7 goes on to say, “...for [because - here’s the reason for that antagonism] it [the unbeliever] does not subject itself to the law of God...” There’s the source of the antagonism. You see, God made you, He sustained your life, He’s given you every good thing you have, and He said, “Here’s my expectation.” And yet, we as sinners ignore that expectation. We do what we want to do. You see, the hostility toward God is rarely open defiance. It’s just refusing to do what He says. To disobey God’s Word is to disobey God and to declare yourself God’s enemy from God’s perspective. So, all you have to do to be God’s enemy is just don’t do what God says. That’s how we all are by nature. That’s how I was, that’s how you were, or still are.

Secondly, we are in constant relational conflict. Not only are we at war with God, but we are in constant relational conflict. Tragically, the sin in our hearts, sins like selfishness, anger, etc., those sins leak out and infect and destroy our relationships, even those most precious to us. That is because, by nature, we are at war. We have a predisposition to anger. In Romans 3, Paul describes this sort of relational conflict that goes on. He says it this way. He says, “THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD...” That doesn’t mean you’re going to kill everybody that crosses you or that I have. It means that we are quick to anger, like violent anger. And then he says we demonstrate a pattern of destructive actions: “DESTRUCTION AND MISERY ARE IN THEIR PATHS...” Destruction has to do with destructive actions toward our relationships. Misery refers to the misery that results from those destructive actions. Sadly, there are homes represented here today who are characterized by destruction and misery. And then he says these things “are in their paths”. That’s kind of like the expression we use in English, “in their wake.” Wherever they go, they leave destruction, destroyed relationships in their wake. “AND THE PATH OF PEACE THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN.” By nature, we don’t know how to find the path that leads to peace in our relationships, and we have no personal experience of what it means to live in peace. So as humans, by nature, as we’re born into this world, there is constant relational conflict. And by the way, that starts in the nursery if you want to go watch it unfold. And it doesn’t stop. It doesn’t stop. That’s the sad thing. It continues with adults that should know better. Because we’re sinners, we need the Prince of Peace. There is also continual war on earth. So, even beyond our individual relationships, at the larger scale we see this. We see it in our world today. Why do you think there is a war raging in Europe? Jesus predicted it. Matthew 24:6, “You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end.” In other words, Jesus says, “Listen, there’s always going to be war and rumors of war, because that’s who human beings are. Just like they destroy their individual personal relationships, they cannot live in peace with anyone.” That’s the need.

So, let’s consider, then, Christ’s provision. Back in our text, verse 6 says, “His name will be called [His character will be such that He is the]... Prince of Peace.” He is the Prince of Peace in several ways. First of all, in that Jesus brings peace with God. Jesus brings peace with God. In Luke 2:14 (we read it just a few moments ago) the angels say to the shepherds, “Glory to God in the highest [that is, in heaven], And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” Now, in one sense, they were announcing the birth of one who would ultimately bring lasting peace on earth in the way we normally think of it and the way the song reflects it. But the angels meant more than that. They were proclaiming peace with God is now available to all men and women. This Prince would secure peace with God, the cessation of hostilities between God and those who are His people. Paul puts it this way in Romans 5:1, after explaining the gospel, He says, if you’ve believed in that gospel, if you’ve believed that Jesus lived a perfect life, He died as a substitute for the sins of all who would believe in Him, and that God raised Him from the dead, and if you will abandon your sin and you will turn to Him as Savior and Lord, then here it is, “...we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ...” You can have peace with God.

In fact, it’s interesting, in 2 Corinthians 5, Paul talks about the fact “...that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself...” God saw us as His enemies, and we were because we refused to submit to Him. We refused to obey Him as our King. But God took the initiative: “...[He] was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them...” And then Paul goes on to say that “He made Him [Christ] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” In other words, if you’ll believe in Jesus Christ, Christ gets all your sin and on the cross God treated Him as if He had committed them. And you get all of Christ’s righteousness, His perfect life credited to your account, and God will forever treat you as if you’d lived Jesus’ life. That’s the gospel. And you know what Paul says in response to all of that? He says, “...we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” That’s my plea to you today. Be reconciled to God. He is the Prince of Peace.

There’s a second way that Jesus brings peace, and that is He brings peace with others. You see, sin brings alienation and conflict. You don’t have to look any further than the first sin in Genesis 3 to see what happens. What happens immediately after their sin? They begin to attack and accuse each other. Sin brings conflict. It brings alienation. But Christ has become our peace. He’s not only reconciled us to God, not only made it possible for us to have peace with God, but when He changes our hearts, He calls it the new birth. When God changes our hearts at the moment of salvation, makes us a new creation, as Paul puts it, we become, we get a new heart, new loves, new desires. When that happens, He also creates peace between us and others. He makes it possible for us to be at peace with other people.

In fact, Paul says in Ephesians 2:14, “For He Himself [Jesus] is our peace...” And, in context, he’s not only talking about peace with God, he’s talking about Christ made peace between two impossibly reconcilable groups, the Jews and the Gentiles. And He brought them together in the church. Sitting around this church, there are people who are Jews and there are people who are Gentiles. There are people who are rich and people who are poor. There are people who are of one race and people of another race. We are all different in so many ways, but Christ is our peace and makes it possible for us to dwell at peace with one another. Where Christ becomes truly known, the hostility between people begins to end.

Thirdly, Jesus brings peace to the heart. Isaiah, later in his prophecy, says that if you don’t know God, your heart is like the sea. You ever gone to the sea and just gone down below the water and looked at what happens to the sand, just as you’re going out into the ocean and watch the upheaval that’s happening in that sand, just below the surface of the water. God says your heart is just like that. It’s never at rest, never at peace, if you don’t know Jesus Christ. But Jesus brings peace to the heart. In John 14:27, He said this to His disciples, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” Where Christ comes, where He becomes the king of your heart, your heart can finally be at rest, finally at peace.

Number four: Jesus will someday bring peace on earth. You know, many rulers make a name for themselves in war, but Christ establishes His kingdom in peace. Peace on earth - it’s proverbial, it’s the subject of so many songs, both Christmas songs and others. Peace on earth. It’s a common desire but, folks, it’s never been true. In the history of the world, there have only been a few years without war somewhere on this planet. But one day our King will establish an earthly kingdom characterized by peace. He will have the power, notice how it says it, to initiate and sustain eternal peace on earth. He is the Prince of Peace. That’s why earlier in Isaiah, Isaiah predicts a time like this in Isaiah 2:4, “...And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war.” That’s what only Jesus Christ can do. Our King has provided peace with God, He’s provided peace with others, and He’s given the peace of God in our hearts. And someday, He will establish peace over the entire earth under His sovereign rule.

Listen, if you want peace, if you want peace with God, if you want peace with others in your relationships, if you want peace in your heart, if you really long for there to be ultimate peace on this planet, it’s only found in one place. It’s found in a person, Jesus of Nazareth. He is the Prince of Peace. If you’re a Christian, as we celebrate Christmas, we’re really celebrating the reality that the baby born in Bethlehem has become our King. Our King has defeated sin, and someday He will destroy sin and destroy its consequences in the lives of everybody who knows Him. He’s established peace between us and God. The war is over.

But how? How did this unique Son, our King, deal with the darkness of sin and its consequences? Well, turn to Isaiah 53. Later in this very prophecy, Isaiah explains how this unique Son, who would be born, would make peace between us and God. Isaiah 53:4: “Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. [Verse 5] But He was pierced through for our transgressions [our breaking of God’s law], He was crushed for our iniquities [for our guilt]; The chastening for our well-being [shalom, our peace] fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are [spiritually] healed. [And look at verse 6] All of us [without exception, every human on this planet] like sheep have gone astray [from God, our Creator], Each of us [individually] has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity [that is, the guilt] of us all [that is, all who will believe in Him] To fall on Him [Messiah].” This is, of course, referring to what happens in Jesus’ death. And this is how God makes peace between us and Him. This is how He reconciled us to Himself.

You see, God is a perfect judge, and no perfect judge just lets a criminal walk. You go down to the courthouse in Fort Worth or Dallas, and you hear a case, and watch it unfold where someone has committed a terrible crime. You don’t want that judge to say, “I forgive you. Walk.” No, you want justice to be done. Well, God is a perfect judge. He can’t just forgive your sin. He can’t just forgive my sin. He wouldn’t be a perfect judge if that were true. Somehow, that sin has to be paid for. It has to be dealt with. Justice has to be done. And that’s where Christ’s death came in. Justice was done for all of those who will believe in Him. Christ paid the penalty of the sin of all of those who would ever believe in Him. And that’s how we can be forgiven.

The wonderful Christmas prophecy in Isaiah 9, as it turns out, is the New Testament gospel. Remember for whom this child does all these things? “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us [that is, for our benefit]...” But the question is, who’s us? Well, if you’re willing, there’s an invitation to you. This wonderful passage in Isaiah 53 is followed by an invitation. Go over to Isaiah 55. Isaiah 55:1: “Ho! Every one who thirsts [listen, the only requirement is that you’re thirsty], come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy and eat...” In other words, you can’t bring anything to buy this. What do you do? Verse 6: “Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way [that is, his predictable patterns of sinful behavior] And the unrighteous man his [sinful] thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.” And you say, “What kind of God could do that? Look at what I’ve done to Him, my Creator. How could he accept and receive me?” Verse 8: ”‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.’“ If you’re willing to repent of your sin and to submit to this king, then He will have been born today for you. And God will have given His Son for you.

I just want to touch on one final defining quality of our King back in Isaiah 9. We’ve seen His nature; we’ve seen His character. Let me just give you an outline in verse 7 of His unique reign. His unique reign. Verse 7 describes what His reign will be like. Now, in context, verse 7 is referring to the Messiah’s future, literal reign on earth, but it highlights several qualities about our King’s reign that you need to see.

First of all, consider the extent of His reign. It is a universal kingdom. Verse 7 says, “There will be no end to the increase of His government...” No end to the expansion of His kingdom. Jesus’ kingdom will be a vast empire that includes every square inch of this planet, and every intelligent being in the universe will acknowledge Him as Lord, Paul says. By the way, on a personal level, if you’re a follower of Jesus Christ, Jesus’ spiritual reign over your soul will continue to grow and increase as well until every dark corner of your heart is fully under His dominion and rule. The extent of His reign is universal.

Secondly, the effect of His reign is an everlasting peace. Verse 7 says, “There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace...” The Hebrew word for peace is shalom. It describes complete well-being, peace, safety, spiritual prosperity. It’s true in the future and it’s true right now. You see, Christian, whatever happens around us, whatever happens to us, under the reign of our King, we can still enjoy peace and spiritual prosperity. We can, in the words of James, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials...” His reign is marked by everlasting peace.

Thirdly, the basis of His reign is the Davidic promise, the promise God made to David. Verse 7 says, “...[He will reign] On the throne of David and over his kingdom...” Jesus is the royal son of David. He is both the legal son, through his adoptive father Joseph, and He is the physical son of David through His mother Mary. Both of them were descendants of David. You can see it in the genealogies in Matthew 1 and in Luke 3. Jesus is the fulfillment of the promise God made to David in 2 Samuel 7:16 when He said, ”Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.” Well, He didn’t mean David. He meant David’s greater son, the Messiah, who would come from David. Jesus alone has the right to rule forever based on the promise God made to David. That’s exactly what Gabriel said to Mary in Luke 1:32: ”...the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David...”

The character of His reign will be absolute justice and righteousness. Absolute justice and righteousness. You see, human government is a blessing. It’s flawed, but it is a divine creation for our good. However, rulers are sinful and fallen, and they often misuse or abuse their power. They’re often unjust and unrighteous. In fact, Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Index ranked 180 countries in our world on a scale from 100, meaning they’re very clean, no corruption, to 0, highly corrupt. The global average was 43. And only 57 countries scored above 50. 53 ranked lower than 30 on the scale. The governments of our world are filled with corruption, but that’s not how it is with Jesus’ reign. Look at verse 7: “To establish it and to uphold it with justice [decisions that are fair and impartial] and righteousness [He always does what’s right]...” This is how Jesus always is, how He is today, how He’ll always be.

Notice, fifthly, the length of His reign. It is an eternal kingdom. Verse 7 says, “...From then on and forevermore...” Throughout human history, and it’s still true, it’s common for the subjects of those under a good king to say, “Long live the king!” Why did they say that? Because they understand that when you have a good king reigning a long time, it brings peace and stability to the country and to your own life. Once our King begins to reign, it will never end. The fact that He reigns forever separates Him from every human ruler, even the greatest of them. Even the greatest of them, however long their reign, they die.

We’ve just witnessed that with Britain’s monarch. My mind goes back to Louis XIV of France. He was one of the greatest rulers in the history of Europe. In fact, he was known as Louis the Great. He was so captured by his own greatness that he organized his funeral to show his greatness. He told his chaplain, Massillon, that he was to lie in state in a golden coffin in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. And the cathedral was to be entirely dark. Imagine this room entirely dark. Of course, that great cathedral has windows, but no artificial lighting whatsoever. Completely dark except for a lone candle. And that lone candle, Louis said, is to be placed on my coffin. And it’s to symbolize His greatness. Massillon did everything that Louis instructed him to do. And as everyone came into the cathedral for the funeral of Louis XIV, there was darkness, there was the golden coffin, there was the single lit candle atop it, picturing the greatness of Louis the Great. And as Massillon ascended into the pulpit to begin his sermon, he took a moment and paused and he leaned over and with his fingers, he snuffed out that lone candle. And he began his funeral message for Louis the Great with these words, “God alone is great!” Once the kingdom of Jesus Christ begins, it will never end. He alone is great.

Finally, the guarantee of His reign is God’s zealous love. Verse 7 ends, “The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.” The word for zeal means to burn red. It describes a face burning red with deep emotion. What’s the point here? The idea is that Yahweh, that’s God’s personal name, Yahweh who has at His command the hosts, meaning the armies of heaven, He has in Himself this intense devotion to the ones that He loves. And, combined with a passion for His own glory, His own honor, and His intense burning zeal, guarantees that Jesus will reign forever. It will happen. There are very few things in this world that are certain. We tease death and taxes, but even those aren’t always certain. Jesus will one day come and not everyone will die. But Jesus will reign wherever the sun shines because God says it will happen.

Today we celebrate the child that Isaiah prophesied. He’s been born. He’s Jesus Messiah, the King. He’s my rightful King. He’s your rightful King. So, how should you respond to Jesus the King? Well, the last verse of Dix’s Carol explains it. Here’s what he writes: “So, bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh. Come peasant, king, to own Him. The King of kings salvation brings, let loving hearts enthrone Him. This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing, Haste, haste to bring Him laud, the babe, the Son of Mary.” Jesus Christ, Jesus the Messiah, the one born on this day is your rightful King. You should own Him as your King. You should enthrone Him in your heart, and you should praise and worship Him as the only One worthy of all praise and honor. That’s the Christmas prophecy fulfilled today.

Let’s pray.

Father, thank You for these magnificent truths. Lord, thank You that so many of us in this room this morning have acknowledged our sin, we’ve turned from it, we’ve acknowledged Jesus as our rightful King and Lord. Lord, today these truths fill our hearts with joy and just become a source of praise and adoration. But Father, there are undoubtedly others here with us this morning, either a part of our church family or perhaps guests who’ve come, who have never acknowledged Jesus’ right to rule them. I pray that today, on the day we celebrate His birth, the only rightful King of the universe, that they would finally lay down their rebellion and they would bow their knee to Jesus Christ the King. It’s in His name that I pray, Amen!