“Rejoice in the Savior’s Birth”
(Isaiah 9:2-7 – Christmas Eve – December 24, 2020)
Isaiah 9:2-7 – 2The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined. 3You have multiplied the nation and increased its joy; they rejoice before You according to the joy of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. 4For You have broken the yoke of his burden and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian. 5For every warrior’s sandal from the noisy battle, and garments rolled in blood, will be used for burning and fuel of fire. 6For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
Dear Redeemed of God in the name of our newborn Savior, Jesus Christ:
This is the day when the infinite God, whom the heavens cannot contain, came down and visited this earth. This is the day when the almighty God, whose power is without bounds, was born into the world as a helpless child. This is the day when the Savior appeared, for whom the fallen children of Adam had been waiting and longing for thousands of years. This is the day when all of God’s promises were fulfilled, which He had given since the beginning of the world, saying that He would come to us poor sinners to save us from the curse we had brought on ourselves by sin. This is the day when the eternal Son of God appeared in time, when the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. This is the day when Christ was born in Bethlehem, to a virgin named Mary, of the family of David, just as it had been foretold through the prophets.
The prophet Isaiah lived 700 years before the birth of Christ. Yet God allowed him to see the day of the Savior’s birth in a vision, as if it were happening in the present: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given.” Isaiah rejoiced to see that the promised Savior would be born as a Baby; yet, He would be “Mighty God” in our flesh! Every line of our text is filled with joy. The prophet speaks as though he could not find sufficient words to praise this heavenly Child.
How much more can we rejoice today, knowing that our Savior’s birth is an accomplished fact, fulfilled 2000 years ago for us? Let us “Rejoice in Our Savior’s Birth.”
1) Rejoice in His light
First, Isaiah’s prophecy invites us to rejoice in the Light of our newborn Savior:
Verse 2: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.”
What is that great Light Isaiah sees shining over the whole world? It is the Christ Child, the promised Messiah. It is the Lord Jesus, who came from heavenly glory to shine the light of His salvation on a sin-darkened world. As Jesus said in John 8:12: “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
On whom does Isaiah see this Light shining? He shines on “the people who walked in darkness… those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death.” This is the condition of the children of Adam, fallen in sin. Because of our inherited sinful nature we had lost the perfect image of God; we had lost a right a relationship with Him as those who no longer shared His holiness. We were walking under the power of the Prince of darkness, Satan and his lies. We were walking in spiritual darkness, not rightly knowing God, at enmity with Him. As such, we dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, living under the curse of sin, living in fear of judgment. If God had not intervened, eternal death and darkness would have been our doom.
But in His love for a fallen world, from eternal realms of heavenly light, God sent His Son to us as the Savior of sinners. Jesus is “the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world” (John 1:9). He is the Light who dispels the darkness that covers the earth and its people. He is the Light who brings forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life to those walking in darkness and living in the land of the shadow of death.
In place of our sin-darkened lives, the holy Child born at Christmas would live a bright and glorious life of perfect obedience to His Father in heaven. It is in the light of Jesus’ perfect life, that God now looks at us and counts us with His righteousness. Not only that; the holy Child born at Christmas would remove all the darkness of our sin from the sight of His Father. Even though there was no darkness of sin in Him, Jesus would go to the cross bearing all the darkness of our guilt, condemnation, and death. Then, having done everything to win our salvation, having crushed the prince of darkness and any claim he had on us, Jesus rose from the grave in glory. He lives to share the victory of His forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life with us.
2) Rejoice in His victory
Now, Isaiah’s prophecy invites us to rejoice in the victory our Savior was born to win for us:
Verses 3-4: “They rejoice before You according to the joy of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For You have broken the yoke of his burden and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian.”
Isaiah’s words remind us of a time when Israel experienced the Lord’s deliverance from the powerful Midianite enemy. God’s chosen leader Gideon, along with only 300 men, surprised the army of Midian by night, and they took their camp without any weapons! Each man had a jar with a lamp in it, and a trumpet. They surrounded the Midianite camp, broke the jars, held up the lamps, and blew their trumpets shouting: “The sword of the Lord and Gideon!” (Judges 7:20). At this, the Lord caused the Midianites to turn on each other with their swords, killing and fleeing in confusion. Imagine the great joy in Israel when the Lord delivered them from their powerful enemy.
But how much greater is our joy at our Savior’s birth! He came to deliver us from spiritual enemies too powerful for us. He came to break the yoke of our burden and bondage to sin, Satan, and death. He has come to remove the rod of punishment for our sins by taking our punishment on the cross. He has come to give us the victory of eternal life in His Kingdom.
When it comes to our joy in our Savior’s birth, Isaiah sees two pictures in his vision – harvesters bringing in the grain, and soldiers dividing plunder in the enemy’s camp. How great is the joy of harvesters, as they gather grain into the barn! They shout and sing as they bring in one load after another and store away the crops of the field. Now they can enjoy the bounty of God’s blessing! And how great is the joy of warriors after battle, having fought through all the noise and confusion and garments rolled in blood, they have finally conquered the enemy. How great is their joy when they have driven the enemy from his camp and taken possession of his goods, dividing the spoils! Now they can enjoy the peace of victory!
This is the kind of joy Isaiah sees in us, as we rejoice in our Savior’s birth. It is like the triumphant joy of the harvester and the conqueror. Is there any event in the history of the world that has brought you and me greater gain and greater victory? Our Savior’s birth has brought us victory and deliverance from Satan’s kingdom! Our Savior’s birth has brought us the joyful harvest of everlasting life in His Kingdom!
3) Rejoice in His gracious rule
Now, Isaiah’s prophecy invites us to rejoice in the gracious rule of our newborn Savior:
Verse 6: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
When a royal child is born as heir to the throne, the citizens watch with eager interest. They wonder what his character will be like, and how he will rule over them. Here, Isaiah assures us that that the royal Child who was born to us, has come to rule for our good, as our powerful and gracious King.
First of all, this heaven-sent King is no ordinary child. He is the eternal Son of God, conceived in the Virgin Mary and born in our flesh. How can this be? As the angel explained to Mary: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).
“Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given.” The Savior is God’s personal gift, presented to each of us in His birth. The Son of God has come to rule for our good. His gracious rule is seen in the humble and lowly manner He came to us, born in a stable, laid in a manger.
Now Isaiah tells us what His rule is like. The newborn King is called “Wonderful, Counselor,” because He is here to counsel and comfort us by His Word. Jesus is the Word of God made flesh, come from the Father full of grace and truth (John 1:14). What wonderful counsel He gives, day by day, as He guides our way by His revealed Word of Holy Scripture. What wonderful comfort He gives, as He speaks His Word of forgiveness, and reassurance that He cares for us each day, and promise that He is bringing us home in eternal life.
He is called “Mighty God,” because He rules for us by His unsurpassed power. Jesus has conquered every enemy for us – He has set us free from the power of sin, Satan, death. As our risen and ascended Savior, all things have been placed under His feet – every principality and power, even death itself. As Mighty God in our flesh, He rules over all things for our good.
He is called “Everlasting Father,” because He rules with the kind of compassion a father has for His dear children. As a father cares for and protects his children, so the Savior who was born unto us, is here for us each day. We can cast all our cares on Him, knowing He cares for us.
He is called “Prince of Peace” because He is here to fill our hearts with the peace of God that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). He has won the peace of forgiveness, the peace of knowing we live each day in God’s favor, the peace of knowing that our life will not end in a dark grave, but continue in the glorious light, joy, and peace of His heavenly Kingdom.
4) Rejoice in His everlasting kingdom
Finally, Isaiah’s prophecy invites us to rejoice in His everlasting Kingdom:
Verse 7: “Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.”
Throughout history, many kingdoms have risen and fallen; many kings have lived and died. But the Savior who was born unto us at Christmas has established His Kingdom that has no end. As God had promised King David, the Messiah would be born as his descendent according to the flesh; yet He would be the eternal Son of God. God told David: “I will establish the throne of His Kingdom forever. I will be His father, and He shall be My Son” (2 Samuel 7:13-14).
As the Son of God and Son of David, Jesus lives and reigns forever. He has established His Kingdom of Grace among us, as He brings His forgiveness, life, and salvation to us through His Gospel in Word and Sacrament. And He continues to increase His government and peace without end. With zeal, He sends His Good News of salvation to the ends of the earth, bringing sinners His blood-bought peace, bringing more and more souls into His Kingdom of Grace! And at last, He who descended from His heavenly Kingdom to be born in time as our Savior will bring us home to His everlasting Kingdom of Glory.
So let us rejoice in our Savior’s birth! “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given.” Rejoice that He was born to shine on you the light of His salvation. Rejoice that he was born to win for you the victory over sin, death, and Satan. Rejoice that He was born as your gracious King, who rules for your good even now. And rejoice that He was born to bring you into His everlasting Kingdom and the never-ending peace and joy of heaven.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Amen.