Assyria was quickly becoming the world’s superpower. The growing power of Assyria, however, was not the result of political skill, military dominance, or economic strength. God raised up Assyria to execute judgment on his unrepentant people. Resin, king of Syria, and Pekah, king of Israel sought to establish a treaty with Judah’s king, Ahaz, hoping their coalition of nations would stave off the armies of Assyria. Ahaz refused. So Pekah and Resin turned against Ahaz.
In the midst of this political intrigue, God’s faithfulness to his chosen people, to his covenant promises, and to his redemptive plans did not change. But it would be put on display by the most unlikely means:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
This divine promise spoke directly to the crisis Ahaz and Judah faced as Assyria advanced. The ultimate fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy would happen seven hundred years later.
The Birth of a King
A virgin named Mary was betrothed to a man named Joseph. The angel Gabriel announced,
And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end. (Luke 1:31–33)
Have you ever received a birth announcement? They all have one thing in common. Birth announcements are sent out after the child is born. Gabriel, however, announced the birth of Jesus to Mary before she conceived. This angelic announcement is a divine sequel to the prophetic announcement of Christ’s birth in Isaiah 9:6–7. This is the real meaning of Christmas. The birth of Jesus is the arrival of the ruler of the world! What does the birth of Jesus mean? Isaiah 9:6–7 declares three fundamental truths about the birth of Christ.
His Birth Was a Miracle
Jesus asked, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” The Pharisees answered, “The son of David.” Jesus responded,
How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying, “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet’”? If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son? (Matthew 22:43–45)
Jesus Christ is the answer: “To us a child is born, to us a son is given.” “To us” means “for us.” Directly, this is a reference to Judah. Ultimately, this is a reference to all who believe in Christ. Jesus was born to die for us (Isaiah 53:4–6).
His Birth Was a Revolution
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder.
The baby Jesus rested on Mary’s shoulders after she nursed him. Yet the government rested on the shoulders of this baby. The wise men asked Herod, “Where is he who has been born King of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:2). Many babies have become king. Only once has a King become a baby. The government is on the shoulders of Jesus.
Jesus later declares, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:18–19). The claims of Jesus are political. The question is not “Do you agree?” It is, “Will you follow him?”
His Birth Was a Gift
It is customary to give a gift when a baby is born, especially a royal child. This is what the wise men did when they found the baby Jesus (Matthew 2:11). Jesus deserves our best gifts. But he does not need them. Jesus is first the gift of God to us, and we desperately need him. Isaiah 9:6 says, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulders, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Kings were given royal names to honor their majesty. The prophet Isaiah ascribes four names to Christ. But these names are not honorific. They reflect the total sufficiency of Christ to meet every need in our lives. Jesus alone is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.
Christmas is not finally about a baby in a manger. It is about the incarnation of the Son of God himself, who came to save his people from their sins. The born-King was nailed to the cross, rose from the dead, and reigns forever!