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, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. ~ Isaiah 9:6 KJV
Do you hear the music? I can’t read this verse without Handel’s Messiah singing through my heart!
Hallelujah! (Pun intended. Get it?) The message cannot be held back or trampled down! Even without a background of Christmas celebration, the joyous worship, seeped in Scripture about Christ’s birth and passion is forever engraved upon my life (and no doubt the lives of countless others) through Handel’s great work, created under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
This book on freedom—a book that includes a set of Advent devotionals—isn’t complete without meditating on the first seven verses of Isaiah chapter nine.
Read the whole following passage slowly. I chose a version that might be less familiar so we can think about the words instead of blazing past them:
The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. The light will shine on those living in the land of dark shadows. . . . You will give them great joy. They will be glad before You. . . . For You will break the heavy load from their neck and shoulders. You will break the power of those who made it hard for them. . . . For to us a Child will be born. To us a Son will be given. And the rule of the nations will be on His shoulders. His name will be called Wonderful, Teacher, Powerful God, Father Who Lives Forever, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to His rule and His peace, upon the throne of David and over his nation. He will build it to last and keep it strong with what is right and fair and good from that time and forever. The work of the Lord of All will do this. (Isaiah 9:2–7, NLV).*
The first phrase that jumps out at me is “land of dark shadows.” I don’t know about you, but some of my most painful seasons felt shadowed. It was almost like life played out in black and white instead of in color. But God “has rescued us and has drawn us to Himself from the dominion of darkness, and has transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13, AMP). Because of His work on the cross, the heavy burdens of sin and condemnation are lifted from our shoulders, and He breaks the power—the control—of the evil that seeks to weigh us down and make life hard on us.
When we see God as He really is—the glorious One who is wonderful, our teacher and counselor, all-powerful, and full of peace, the God who gave so much to set us free, the God who is love—we learn to look to Him for identity, leadership, and strength. As we discover who we are in Him, mining Scripture for our identity instead of listening to the false voices, praying and seeking God’s perspective and learning His voice, we live more and more in the freedom He purchased for us at the cross.
We were taken out of the land of shadows.
Remember the despair? The depression? The feelings of self-loathing? He moved us “outta” that awful place and took us to a place full of light! The light shines all around us illuminating a beautiful, colorful landscape. In this Kingdom of Light, He tells us things like:**
I love you. “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness” (Jeremiah 31:33, NIV).
You are my treasure. “Of all the people on earth, the LORD your God has chosen you to be his own special treasure” (Deuteronomy 7:6, NLT).
I gave my most precious Son to make you my own. “For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16, AMP).
You are free to live outside of bondage! “It was for this freedom that Christ set us free [completely liberating us]” (Galatians 5:1, AMP).
You are My precious child. “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure” (Ephesians 1:5, NLT).
You are pure, righteous, holy. “Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin” (1 Corinthians 1:30, NLT).
I never condemn you, My child. “Therefore there is now no condemnation [no guilty verdict, no punishment] for those who are in Christ Jesus [who believe in Him as personal Lord and Savior]” (Romans 8:1, AMP).
You are my masterpiece and through you we will do good works. Who you are and what you do is valuable to Me. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10, NLT).
I’ve prepared a place for you to live with Me forever. “There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2, NLT).
You are my beautiful bride. “[(The Bridegroom)] Behold, how beautiful you are, my darling, Behold, how beautiful you are! Your eyes are dove’s eyes” (Song of Solomon 1:15, AMP).***
Oh sweet friend! The birth of Jesus changed everything!
Let’s ponder our passage again in light of what you just read:
“But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish. . . .
The people who walk in [spiritual] darkness
Will see a great Light;
Those who live in the dark land,
The Light will shine on them. . . .
You will multiply their joy;
They will rejoice before You
Like the joy and jubilation of the harvest,
As men rejoice when they divide the spoil [of victory].
For You will break the yoke of Israel’s burden and the staff (goad) on their shoulders,
The rod of their oppressor . . .
For to us a Child shall be born, to us a Son shall be given;
And the government shall be upon His shoulder,
And His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
There shall be no end to the increase of His government and of peace,
[He shall rule] on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness
From that time forward and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this”
(Isaiah 9:1–7, AMP)
Hallelujah! For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth! And “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty [emancipation from bondage, true freedom]” (2 Corinthians 3:17, AMP). Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is love, for God is love (1 John 4:8)!
Praise to Almighty God, Omnipotent Father! Praise to Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lord, who came as a vulnerable baby and died as a courageous God-man to set us free! Praise You Triune God, Lord of heaven and earth! You establish your kingdom of freedom and uphold it with righteousness and justice. You liberated me. In You I have true freedom. I am emancipated! I am loved and free to love!
* This prophecy was originally given to the nation of Israel. The New Testament makes it clear that when we accept Jesus we are adopted into the promises given God’s people. In quoting this passage I left out phrases I thought might distract you from the message of these verses. Most of the ellipses replace phrases that would make sense to someone in Israel when it was written, but that might not give you much clarity. It might be fun for you to look these Scriptures up in your Bible and think further about the passage in its completeness.
**I could go on and on about how wonderful God is and how wonderfully He loves us! I could write books about who God says you are and how He talks to you! Actually I guess I have. It’s the heartbeat of the first three books of the Soul Scents series.
***Scripture calls us the bride of Christ. One of my favorite places to discover His love for me is in the reading of the Song of Solomon as a statement of His love for me, personally. Have you read it lately?