“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 Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Why is Christmas considered to be a season of hope? I mean, we celebrate the birth of a baby boy who, thirty-odd years later, ended up being crucified – that doesn’t bode well for optimism. And as we go through life, hope often eludes us as we are confronted with pain and suffering every step of the way. Nevertheless, there is reason to rejoice this holiday season, even in our COVID-infested world.
Let’s look at an often-quoted verse at Christmas-time to get some clues. The beginning fits right in with our image of baby Jesus in the manger. It’s important to note that this child was born for us, and he was given to us. His birth wasn’t by accident but had a specific purpose with us in mind.
The next part of the sentence can bring about confusion. After all, Jesus didn’t rule; he wasn’t part of any government. Quite the opposite. He even avoided political power when the people tried to force him to become king.
This verse highlights Isaiah’s tendency to combine several prophecies into one. He took two events that are thousands of years apart (no one knows precisely how many) and condensed them into one sentence. Jesus came to earth the first time as a baby, but he will come again as a king.
We know what happened during Jesus’ first stay on earth. His life demonstrated what love, joy, and peace are all about, and he willingly died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin. But death couldn’t hold him; he triumphed over the grave and ultimately returned to his rightful place in heaven.
This, in itself, gives us many reasons to hope, but the story doesn’t end here. If we are to experience hope in all its fullness, it’s essential to grasp the truths about Christ’s second coming. He will return to rule on the earth and to set right all that is wrong. I know this may sound like a fairy tale – too good to be true – but if all the prophecies concerning Jesus’ first coming have proven to be reliable and trustworthy, then why dismiss those about his future return to earth?
What kind of a king will Jesus be? Isaiah describes him for us. As a “Wonderful Counselor,” he will give us all the wisdom we need. “Mighty God” points to his divinity and power, of which there will be no doubt. “Everlasting Father” indicates that he is the father, or author, of eternity (not to be confused with God the Father). And lastly, “Prince of Peace” gives us the nature of his kingdom. There will finally be peace on the earth as we have never known before.
Christmas is a season of hope because we aren’t just celebrating the child in the manger; we are rejoicing over the future king as well. The world as we know it will be renewed, and when we remember this fact, hope fills our hearts.