Skip to comments."The Era of Big Government Is Just Beginning" (Sermon for Christmas Eve, on Isaiah 9:2-7)
Posted on 12/24/2010 10:14:10 AM PST by Charles Henrickson
The Era of Big Government Is Just Beginning (Isaiah 9:2-7)
The era of big government is over. So declared President Bill Clinton in his State of the Union address in January of 1996. Of course, in the fifteen years since then, our big government has gotten even bigger. The size and scope of the federal government, its power, its spending, its intrusion into our lives--way beyond the limits set for it by the Constitution--big government is bigger than ever. The era of big government is over? Really? I must have missed it.
As you may have guessed, and as anybody who knows me could tell you, I am an adamant opponent of big government. So it may come to you as a bit of a surprise when I tell you that tonights message--and this is something Im actually happy about--the message for us on this Christmas Eve is this: The Era of Big Government Is Just Beginning.
What, have you lost your mind, Henrickson? No, Im serious! The era of big government is just beginning, and this is a good thing! You heard it in our reading from Isaiah: Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end. What is that, if not a prophecy of an ever-increasing, ever-expanding, unending government? This is big government on steroids! And its a good thing! In fact, it is good news of great joy for all people, including all of you here tonight.
Of course, the difference between bad big government and good big government depends on whos doing the governing and how its being done. And Isaiah tells us who will be doing the good big government and what that will mean for us. He writes: 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. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.
This big government, Gods big government--the kingdom of God, you could call it--will be placed upon the shoulder of . . . a newborn child! For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder. Hmm, that prophecy sounds like something the angels would announce some 700 years later: For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And its no coincidence. The child whose birth Isaiah foretold would turn out to be the Babe of Bethlehem, the great Son of David, the Messiah, Christ the Lord. It is his birth we are celebrating here tonight.
Isaiah has other names, four other names here, by which we call this child: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Each title tells us who this child born to us, this son given to us, is.
Wonderful Counselor: His plan, his wise counsel, for how he will run his government will be wonderful, marvelous, something to behold. Peace, justice, righteousness--not just lofty words, but living realities to be put into action.
Mighty God: This child born will be God himself, the Almighty One. Can you imagine that? The child to be born will be the Mighty God himself, and its prophesied in the Old Testament? But here it is! This is the mystery of the little boy born in Bethlehem. For in truth he is the very God, the eternal Son of God come in the flesh. And he is mighty. He will defeat our enemies for us. Sin, Satan, death, hell--all defeated by this little warrior.
Everlasting Father: Not that the Son is the Father, but he makes the Father known to us, and he will be the greatest expression and enactment of the Fathers warm care and protection for us. We know the Father only through his Son, Jesus Christ.
Prince of Peace: The rule and reign of Christ will be marked by a peace that passes anything any king of earth can bring about. Christ Jesus will make peace between heaven and earth, peace between God and man, by himself atoning for the rebellion of sinful men against their Creator, by himself suffering the just wrath of God against sinful humanity. The government shall be upon his shoulder precisely as and because he bears on his shoulder the awful weight of our sins, that heavy load you and I could not bear. Christ did this when he hung on a cross, suspended between heaven and earth as our Mediator, the blessed Peacemaker par excellence.
And now this peace extends to you and me. The war is over! Peace is made and declared. God is no longer angry with you, because of the coming of this child! Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!
And the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Now I ask you: Who would not want this kind of big government, when it can do big things like this and be governed by such a Lord and Savior--this risen, ascended, and coming-again King, whose kingdom will have no end? Bring it on, I say!
Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end. Yes, the era of big government is just beginning. We even mark our eras, divide them, by the arrival of this child: B.C., Before Christ, and A.D., Anno Domini, In the Year of the Lord so-and-so. Its a whole new era since Christ our Lord has come. The kingdom of God has come into our midst. The rule and reign of Christ has been growing and expanding, worldwide, for 2000 years now. Christ is building his church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy. More and more people, men and women and children from every nation, have been coming into the blessed realm of Christs governance, where he bestows joy and every blessing upon his people. It happens as the gospel of the kingdom is proclaimed and believed and people are brought into the church, people like you.
What a joy and a blessing it is to be in Christs kingdom! What a delightful change from the domain of darkness and death we were trapped in! Think of those Chilean miners who were trapped in that mine for so many days and weeks until finally they were freed. What joy there was! Thats a picture of what Christ has done in bringing us out of our dark dungeon of death and bringing us up into the light of life. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined. From deep darkness to great light? This truly is change we can believe in!
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. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end. Friends, the era of big government is just beginning--and its a good thing! Gods big government starts out small with this baby born in Bethlehem, but it has grown to include us in its joyous kingdom of peace and light. It begins on Christmas, and it will never end. Glory to God!
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shined.
You have multiplied the nation;
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff for his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire.
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.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
Thanks for sharing.
God the Avenger of the Righteous
1 O Lord, you God of vengeance,
you God of vengeance, shine forth!
2 Rise up, O judge of the earth;
give to the proud what they deserve!
3 O Lord, how long shall the wicked,
how long shall the wicked exult?
4 They pour out their arrogant words;
all the evildoers boast.
5 They crush your people, O Lord,
and afflict your heritage.
6 They kill the widow and the stranger,
they murder the orphan,
7 and they say, The Lord does not see;
the God of Jacob does not perceive.
8 Understand, O dullest of the people;
fools, when will you be wise?
9 He who planted the ear, does he not hear?
He who formed the eye, does he not see?
10 He who disciplines the nations,
he who teaches knowledge to humankind,
does he not chastise?
11 The Lord knows our thoughts,*
that they are but an empty breath.
12 Happy are those whom you discipline, O Lord,
and whom you teach out of your law,
13 giving them respite from days of trouble,
until a pit is dug for the wicked.
14 For the Lord will not forsake his people;
he will not abandon his heritage;
15 for justice will return to the righteous,
and all the upright in heart will follow it.
16 Who rises up for me against the wicked?
Who stands up for me against evildoers?
17 If the Lord had not been my help,
my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence.
18 When I thought, My foot is slipping,
your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.
19 When the cares of my heart are many,
your consolations cheer my soul.
20 Can wicked rulers be allied with you,
those who contrive mischief by statute?
21 They band together against the life of the righteous,
and condemn the innocent to death.
22 But the Lord has become my stronghold,
and my God the rock of my refuge.
23 He will repay them for their iniquity
and wipe them out for their wickedness;
the Lord our God will wipe them out.
1. The people that in darkness sat
A glorious light have seen;
The light has shined on them who long
In shades of death have been.
2. To hail Thee, Sun of Righteousness,
The gathering nations come;
They joy as when the reapers bear
Their harvest treasures home.
3. For Thou their burden dost remove
And break the tyrant's rod
As in the day when Midian fell
Before the sword of God.
4. To us a Child of hope is born,
To us a Son is given,
And on His shoulder ever rests
All power in earth and heaven.
5. His name shall be the Prince of Peace,
The Everlasting Lord,
The Wonderful, the Counselor.
The God by all adored.
6. His righteous government and power
Shall over all extend;
On judgment and on justice based,
His reign shall have no end.
7. Lord Jesus, reign in us, we pray,
And make us Thine alone,
Who with the Father ever art
And Holy Spirit, one.
The Lutheran Hymnal
Text: Is. 9:2
Author: John Morison, 1770, alt.
Composer: Nikolaus Herman, 1554
Tune: “Lobt Gott, ihr Christen”
Merry Christmas--Christ is Born: Glorify Him!
Of course I've got that hymn slated for tonight, since it's the one that fits most closely with the Isaiah 9 text.
I will be thinking of your excellent sermon as I accompany our choir on “For Unto Us a Child is Born” from Handel’s </i>Messiah</i>.
You blew me away. Epic is the word I’d use too.
Merry Christmas. And thank you.