On the rear window of our automobile is a rectangular decal. It has a bold red border, and within that border are two blue stars. Those stars tie into government, service, and commitment. They’re a symbolic declaration of both dedication and relationship.
Though someone once the decal meant I was a two-star general, it actually signifies that we have two sons who are currently serving in the military. It reflects the dual devotion and dedication of child and parent. They are not equal, to be sure. The dedication of the child actually serving far outstrips that of the parent. But there is no way to totally separate the two, because if the former is called to make the ultimate sacrifice, a part of the latter dies with them.
If that ever happens, then the star representing that life is changed from blue to gold. And though it was their son or daughter who died in the line of duty, Gold Star Dads and Moms are forever recognized for their loss.
Today’s verse says:
UNTO US A CHILD IS BORN, UNTO US A SON IS GIVEN.
AND THE GOVERNMENT WILL BE UPON HIS SHOULDERS.
AND HE WILL BE CALLED WONDERFUL COUNSELOR, MIGHTY GOD,
EVERLASTING FATHER, PRINCE OF PEACE.
This prophecy from Isaiah reveals several characteristics of the promised Messiah.
UNTO US A CHILD IS BORN
This is a phase that would typically be spoken by a parent. It is the fulfillment of the promise of pregnancy. A child is born; and if it is born to us then, typically, we are the parents. But Isaiah is not speaking as a parent. He is speaking as a prophet, and he is speaking to the people of God. We are the “us” to whom he refers. It is strange to say “unto us a child is born” when you are neither the father nor the mother. How does this make sense? Perhaps only in light of the next part of the verse.
UNTO US A SON IS GIVEN.
The Father has given us His Son. It is far too easy to glibly skip over that verse; or to read it only in the context of the Christmas story. But in the giving, the Father knew the gift He placed in the cradle would end up being the gift that went to the cross.
The gift of His Son contained within it the commitment to the ultimate sacrifice. God the Father is a Gold-Star Dad. His Son laid down his life in the line of duty.
AND THE GOVERNMENT WILL BE UPON HIS SHOULDERS.
The Son was born to reign. Royalty. Not some powerless titular position, but an actual monarchy whose King rules supreme, whose authority is absolute.
AND HE WILL BE CALLED WONDERFUL COUNSELOR
He counsels us to establish our relationship with Him. He upon whose shoulders the government rests invites you to submit to His Lordship. To do so opens the full benefit of the gift that is being given. His counsel is wise and wonderful, for the day is coming when every knee will bow. But for some, their submission will come too late. Submission offered in love is invaluable; the submission that will be compelled in the judgment will merely be an acknowledgement of His authority, and of no saving value whatsoever.
Listen to the voice of Him who counsels you with such wonderful wisdom, and give Him your heart. The Son who is given is the Gift of Christmas. As everyone knows, gifts are intended to be received.
Another aspect of His character is revealed to us. The gift is divine. Immanuel is GOD WITH US. The very concept overwhelms the intellect. Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking that His might is limited. There is only one God. The Mighty God is also the Almighty God, the loving God, the all-knowing God and countless other things as well.
Our minds fail us here as well. How can He who is the Son that is given ALSO be the Everlasting Father, the very one who gives? Full comprehension of this is not within our grasp. And so we accept the WHAT by faith, because we know WHO that speaks it. Even if the HOW remains unknowable for now.
PRINCE OF PEACE.
The King of Kings and Lord of Lords is also a prince. He is the Prince of Peace. And as such, He comes and offers us peace, His peace.
He comes to bring us both the peace OF God, and to enjoy peace WITH God. One opens the door for the other and makes it possible. The unsubmitted have no peace with Him, those who have followed His wise counsel and accepted His lordship have it all.
Today in this verse we have a veritable banquet table laid before us with several different dishes. It is a buffet of blessings.
The child who is born is offered to us. In the sweet innocence of a babe is contained all of the untold majesty of divinity. And though His judgment against us would be totally righteous (for we have all rebelled against Him in our hearts and sinned grievously, both in what we have done and in what we have failed to do) — His Majesty the King extends His grace and makes us an offer of peace. And then an offer of forgiveness. And THEN an offer of adoption.
Now those, my friends, are gifts worth having.