Jessica Albritton, Children’s and Family Connections Minister, LHBC
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.
Have you ever played 20 questions? It’s a spoken parlor game encouraging deductive reasoning and creativity. It originated in the US and was very popular in the 19th century. In the late 1940’s it quickly gained even more recognition when a weekly radio program used its format in a segment on the air. In the game, one player chooses a secret subject. Another player asks a series of questions, no more than 20, which can only be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”. Sample questions could be: “Is it bigger than a breadbox?” or “Is this person alive?” The rules are simple, answer the questions honestly. If the one asking the questions guesses the correct answer they win! If 20 questions are asked without a correct guess, the guesser loses. It’s a fun game to play, especially with young children. Kids will ask and ask their questions but I can typically stump them. “Ah, you’re so close, but you missed a little detail!”I was reading through the book of Isaiah the other day and had a similar moment, except this time I was the one that missed something.
The book of Isaiah holds major prophetic writings. The book was written concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, all former kings of Judah. Isaiah, the prophet called by God, received his commissioning in the year 742 BC, the same year King Uzziah died. King Uzziah’s death marked the end of an era, he had reigned for 52 years and his reign had been long and prosperous. Now back in Genesis God had promised to bless the entire world through Abraham and his family but God’s people were rebellious. Under Uzziah’s leadership God’s people had turned away from Him and His promises and placed their trust in the world instead. Instead of God’s blessing, the people had set themselves up to receive judgment. One might think that God’s plans were thwarted, however God has a way of making beauty out of the mess we often find ourselves in.
God sent Isaiah to preach a message of hope. Even though judgment was inevitable, God still had a plan to redeem. God planned to send a Messiah who would bring salvation to the world. Isaiah 9:6 records the words, “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.” Now I’ll be honest, I have always read this as a Christmas prophecy. A Child born referring to Jesus in the manger, a Son given meaning God gifting Jesus to be born of a virgin to redeem creation. But the other day as I was reading I had the greatest epiphany. A Son given is not referring to Christmas, it’s referring to Easter. Jesus wasn’t just sent to be born, He was sent to die. Sent to die for you and me, sent to die for sins He himself would never commit, sins only He could wash away. Later on in Isaiah 53 the prophet refers to Jesus again, this time calling Him the suffering servant. In this chapter God’s plan of redemption is described with more detail. An innocent Messiah would suffer and be the substitute for the sake of sinners. Isaiah wrote in verse 5, “But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed.”
Now I know what you’re thinking, how in the world has this thought never occurred to you? To be honest, it has, but the weight of it set in heavy that day. The fact that Jesus came to die has often crossed my mind, but let’s put this into perspective. God told a prophet over 754 years in advance that He was to send His one and only Son to not only be born, but to die. And this had been the plan all along! God, from the very beginning, knew His precious sinless perfect Son was to be offered as sacrifice for a wicked, evil, rebellious, creation. That wicked, evil, rebellious, creation includes you and I. He was sent for us! Oh how heavy that is to know our sin sent Jesus to the cross. But friend, I have good news, death couldn’t hold Him, and that sin He went to the cross for has no hold on you and I any longer! Jesus was born to die so that you and I could live forever with Him in heaven, if only we put our trust in Him! 1 John 1:9 assures us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Friend, have you confessed your sins and received Christ’s forgiveness? If not, call on Him today! If you have, are you living in such a way that honors Him? Are you looking more and more like Christ every day? Are you faithful in telling others that same great news that saved you? Let’s go now and tell someone!
PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of Your precious Son! Thank You for Christmas, but thank You even more for Easter! You knew from the very beginning of creation we would need a Savior and You so graciously made a way for us, even when we least deserved it! Help that fact to never be lost on me! Help that message of the good news of Jesus never fail to be on my lips! Help me to grow more and more like You each and every day, and help me have courage and boldness to share that good news with those that don’t yet know! In Jesus name, amen!
MEMORY VERSE OF THE WEEK:
Hebrews 1:3– 3
He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high