A few weeks ago, I wanted to bake a cake my mother used to make, but I didn’t know the name of the cake. I only knew it contained pecans, coconut, and crushed pineapple, and Mother always baked it in a Bundt pan. Since mother passed, I asked my dad if I could look through her recipes. He happily handed over her cookbooks and handwritten recipes. My sister, Sherry, and I hurriedly copied and assembled our families’ favorites into a recipe booklet for the holidays. Even though I recalled some of the ingredients in the cake, I had to reach back to the original recipe to find measurements, correct ingredients, and directions.
When I reread Isaiah 9, it refreshed my memory of all the good things that would accompany the birth of the Messiah. Listed in verses one through seven, are delectable, detailed blessings under the chapter heading, “To Us a Child is Born.”
God foretold through Isaiah that he would someday honor Zebulun and Naphtali, “Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan” (v 1). They would become privileged to live during the time when Jesus walked the earth, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned” (v 2). That beam of light continues to shine through the ages.
Isaiah also foretold the reaction of joy in those who would participate in and see the miraculous works of God done through his servant-son, Jesus, “They rejoice before you as people rejoice at harvest” (v 3). We know that an abundance of rejoicing did take place – from the birth of Christ to his resurrection from the dead, and between those lavish happenings, joy occurred because many were cured of illnesses, evil spirits, and dull faith.
Isaiah also revealed that in the day of Christ a new rule would be set up, a kingdom not of this world, governed by a loving Godhead, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. This government could happen right alongside any man-concocted form of rule, and those who would choose to be under the personal governing of Jesus would have as their constant help, “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (v 6). Those are only a sprinkling of the identifying characteristics of Jesus. The Bible text attributes over 200 names and titles to him: Lord of Hosts, God with Us, Morning Star, the Way, Light, Rock, King, Wisdom of God, Bread of Life, Alpha and Omega (Beginning and End), and more. Want reminders of more: Bridegroom, Word of Life, Servant of Rulers, Root of David, Rock of Offense, Only Begotten, Redeemer, High Priest, Judge, Lion of Judah, and Good Master. See Nave’s Topical Bible for a full listing.
The part that most thrilled my heart in Isaiah 9 was this, “Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end . . . . establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever” (v 7). Revealed within that verse are so many full and time-honored promises of an ever-increasing reign of Jesus in hearts. This reign would happen from the time of Christ until now and on to an appointed time when this old world shudders and shuts down.
That means, even with the dreary newscasts of doom and financial gloom, that something good will continue in 2012. Jesus’ government and peace will increase in the hearts of humankind, founded on justice and righteousness, and going on forever.
If you long for a better recipe for 2012, reflect on and believe in the ingredients of Isaiah 9:1-7. Filled with promise, they offer hope because “To Us a Child is Born.”
Index card verse for week 50: “And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us” (1 John 3:23).