Isaiah 9:6

INTRODUCTION

Isaiah preached God’s Word over 700 years before Christ was born. He is called the evangelical prophet because his writing is filled with prophecies of the coming King whom we know as Jesus Christ, our Savior. In the 16th Century John Calvin preached on the “Gospel According to Isaiah,” and in 1977 Dr. Allan A. MacRae published his work, “The Gospel of Isaiah.”  In between, multitudes have reflected on the wonder that God told His people so long beforehand about the birth, life, death, resurrection and kingdom of the Messiah. Now, in preparation for Christmas we are looking at the well known prophecy in Isaiah 9:6. You’ve seen it on Christmas cards and heard it in Handel’s “Messiah,” but what does it really mean to you? In this one prophecy God encompasses His whole plan from eternity past to the unspeakable glories of the world to come. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Here are eight words, four names, consisting of one noun and one adjective each on which everything else is suspended.



THE PROMISED MESSIAH, A PRUDENT KING
A WONDERFUL COUNSELOR


The prophet looks forward to a glorious future in which the coming king “will reign on David’s throne, and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.” (Isaiah 9:7)  But what was the situation like in Isaiah’s time? We must look first at the “Historical Perspective,” and then we will look at the “Hope Promised” and the “Help Provided” as we examine each of the names of the promised king.


THE HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

The message of Isaiah begins with the most awful indictment on the pages of history. God’s people, whom he redeemed and for whom he cared, had turned their backs on Him. “Ah sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers…they have forsaken the Lord; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him….From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness - only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with oil.” (Isaiah 1:4-6)  Add to this sad litany more bad news. Isaiah’s mission is one of doom. “Go and tell this people: ‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes…until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitant.” (Isaiah 6: 9-11)  At the heart of this disaster are the unbelieving political leaders and false prophets of Israel who cried peace when there was no peace. They formed ungodly alliances with their pagan neighbors instead of turning to God for help. Then, as now, there were bad leaders who gave corrupt counsel. Then, as now, those who oppose them are called treasonous. (Isaiah 8:12,13) The horrible moral decline in our culture closely parallels Isaiah’s time. Each successive Christmas in which we talk about peace on earth it seems more remote. We are following bad advice. But God promises his people that he will cut off the evil leaders and false prophets. “So the Lord will cut off from Israel both head and tail, both palm branch and reed in a single day; the leaders and the prominent men are the head, the prophets who teach lies are the tail.” (Isaiah 9:14,15)  In their place he is going to give us a miraculously wise king whose judgments will always be right. He will be a wonderful counselor. In this promise of a wonderful counselor there is hope for them and for us.

THE HOPE PROMISED

Is this hope still future to us? Must we wait for the blind leaders of the blind to be replaced? Must we tarry for the promoters of injustice to be cut off? Must we linger till the dreadful moral decline is replaced with a rule of righteousness? Isaiah says the promised King will establish and uphold justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. (Isaiah 9:7)  In the words of the Apostle Peter, Jesus, the Christ, is sitting on David’s throne now. “We tell you the good news: What God promised to our Fathers he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father.’…I will give you the holy and sure blessings promised to David.” (Acts 2: 32-34)  But, you ask, where is this hope in the midst of our dismal reality? It is not for those who have made government their false messiah. It is not for those who allow the same old false prophets to tell them that we need to throw more money at our problems. It is not for those who believe the falsehoods and succumb to the follies of  unbelieving leaders. It is not for the average man who sees the tragedies of abortion, euthanasia, same sex marriages, divorce, illegitimacy, violence and greed as some kind of inevitable progress to which we must consent. It is for Christians who understand that Jesus reigns. The Son has been given, the child has been born, and from this time on and forever justice shall come. Jesus speaks to the Church in Revelation 3:7 and he says, “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia, write, ‘These are the words of him who is holy and true who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.” To celebrate Christmas properly we must accept the challenge to live under the king and to bring his righteousness into this present evil age until his rule is recognized by all. We must not give up because he is our help.

THE HELP PROVIDED

Do you also ask, “Where is the Help?” It is right in front of you. I need hardly remind you that Jesus called himself a wonderful counselor! He said “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever...I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.” (John 14:16,18)  The risen Christ, on David’s throne, leads us into all truth through the Holy Spirit. This is perfect counsel and you have it in your possession. Jesus says “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name will teach you all things, and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.” John 14:25-27) The Holy Spirit has given us the Bible. In it is the perfect counsel we need. In it is the help provided. God’s help was available to Israel in Isaiah’s time, but it was disregarded. In Isaiah 8: 19,20 we learn that the people walked in darkness because they ignored the Word of God. “When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living. To the law and the testimony. If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.” In contrast to the leaders then and now, Isaiah declares, “Bind up the testimony and seal up the law among my disciples.” (Isaiah 8:16)  How much greater will our folly be if we neglect the perfect counsel of the King? The Apostle Paul says, “  ‘The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,’ that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming…As the Scripture says, ‘Everyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.’ ” (Romans 10:8,11) We who believe the word will not come to shame because we will not experience the bewilderment and confusion of those who have no hope. We have a real and present hope in Christ, the son of David, which is more than a distant promise of heaven. The wonderful Counselor is on the throne and he is extending his dominion through those who obey His word. The true beauty of Christmas is that he not only saves us from our sins, but he is exalted on David’s throne reigning and conquering his enemies. The sword of the Spirit is in your hand. Celebrate by using it to demolish the pretensions of those who oppose your King.


THE PROMISED MESSIAH, A POWERFUL KING
A MIGHTY GOD


As we have already observed, the prophet Isaiah defines the faith and hope of both Israel and the Church as he describes the coming King. The Child who is to be born will not only be a Wonderful Counselor, He will also be a Mighty God. In order to relate this precious promise of divine intervention and incarnation to our situation today, we must look at the Historical Perspective before we look at the Hope Promised and the Help Provided. The meaning of this promise to the people of Isaiah’s time is indispensable for our understanding of its significance for ourselves.

THE HISTORICAL SITUATION

The leaders of Israel in Isaiah’s day consulted mediums and spiritists, who whispered and muttered, instead of inquiring of their God. (Isaiah 8:19)  Doesn’t it alarm you when you hear about astrologers being consulted in the White House? It is a frightening prospect when those who hold our destiny in their hands ignore the counsel of God and consult with false gods. The same fear that brings about this folly also engenders ungodly alliances with other nations. These unprincipled alliances seek safety and comfort over truth and justice. Isaiah opposed these arrangements and was called a traitor. He maintained that God would fight for his people, and he announces that the coming King will be a Mighty God. The Hebrew noun means God, Himself, and is never used metaphorically of rulers. The Adjective translated mighty is from the Hebrew root for “warrior.” At some point the people must trust God to fight their battles.
Every Christmas it perplexes me that people are taken in by the liberal delusion of peace epitomized in the misinterpretation of the angelic message to the shepherds in Bethlehem. “Peace on earth, good will to men,” is twisted to mean only that we should be kind to one another, as if we really could or would. Actually the “goodwill” in view is God’s, not ours, and the message is “Peace on earth to men on whom God’s favor rests.” The angels did not announce an end to human conflict. Nevertheless, people draw their little circles shutting out the  misery of others, and become so absorbed in their private peace and plenty that they forget the wars and rumors of wars that pervade our reality. It reminds me of the little girl who went with her family to see the Christmas lights in town. At one church they stopped at a live nativity. Her Grandmother said, “Look at all the animals, Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus, isn’t it beautiful?” The little girl replied, “Yes, it’s nice, but one thing bothers me. Isn’t the baby Jesus ever going to grow up? He’s the same size he was last year.”  Many people, then and now, choose a false peace by keeping the Messiah in the manger, but Isaiah says He is the Warrior King. He is born in the trenches, born to battle, and he will grow up a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

THE HOPE PROMISED

Thus the hope promised is God’s call to victorious battle. “Raise the war cry, you nations and be shattered! Listen all you distant lands. Prepare for battle and be shattered! Prepare for battle and be shattered! Devise your strategy, but it will be thwarted; propose your plan, but it will not stand, for God is with us.” (Isaiah 8:9,10) Clearly, the war that the Mighty God will win is a war to end all wars for, “Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God…” (Isaiah 9:5,6)  Christ has won the victory through his death and resurrection, but God said to Him, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” (Psalm 110:1)  We are called to battle but our culture is one of increasing spiritual cowardice, and this manifests itself in physical cowardice. What is our trust? I have observed our philosophy in a multiplicity of television shows and movies. The heroes we manufacture are a parable on what we think we need. We combine humans with bio-technology and robotics to solve our problems. We imagine the military establishment secretly creating the universal soldier. We invent Terminator, Robocop, and the Bionic Man. In our techtopian delusion we believe that humanity and technology can combine to bring peace. This propaganda will destroy our children if we are not discerning. First we have negotiations which ignore the Wonderful Counselor and then we have technology that ignores the Mighty God. God’s answer is not the unity of humanity with technology, but the unity of humanity with deity in Jesus Christ. This is the hope offered by Isaiah. A child will be born who is the Mighty God.

THE HELP PROVIDED

And so we are commanded to be good soldiers of Jesus Christ, to fight the good fight of faith, and to follow the Captain of our salvation. But on what front is this battle fought, and where is our help? In ancient Israel the enemies were visible nations, but the ultimate enemy was always the same for them and for us. The parameters of our struggle are set forth in Genesis 3:15 where God says that there will be warfare between the seed of the woman and Satan’s seed. The devil will bruise the heel of the seed of the woman, but He will bruise Satan’s head. The Apostle Paul elaborates on this in Ephesians 6:12 when he reminds us, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” We fail to struggle against sin and unbelief in our own hearts. We fail to speak out against the evil philosophy of our time. We should not be deceived by our material success and prosperity. The structure of the family, the church, the nation is crumbling around us because we believe the cries of “Peace,” when there is no peace. When are we going to realize that our real problem is spiritual. Let us look at our warrior King, our Mighty God. In Revelation 19: 11-15 Jesus is pictured in his glorious conquest over his enemies. “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called faithful and true. With justice he judges and makes war….He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him….Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike the nations.” The sword proceeding from Jesus’ mouth is the written Word of God, and it is the weapon of our warfare. Right now, when I fail to endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ, or when I do not put on the whole armor of God, or when I am not committed to fight the good fight of faith, I have surrendered to the enemy. I have forgotten that I follow El-Gibbor, the Warrior King, who was born and died for me. Christmas should be a time when I re-enlist in the army of the Mighty God. I need a warrior to conquer me, to teach me to stand, and to evangelize the world.





THE PROMISED MESSIAH, A PERPETUAL KING
THE EVERLASTING FATHER


The prophet Isaiah describes Israel’s Messianic King as Prudent and Powerful. The Descendant of David who will sit upon the throne shall bring the wise counsel and the necessary power to deliver his people.  We cannot know this Wonderful Counselor and Mighty God except through the Scriptures where he is exhibited. Only through the Word of God can we experience His wisdom and power. As Paul says in II Corinthians 10:4,5, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” And now the prophecy of Isaiah 9 adds a third dimension to our understanding of the coming King. It is as vital for us as it was for Israel in Isaiah’s time to comprehend that this King is the “Father of Eternity.” His reign will never end.  And so, as before, we must look first at the importance of this promise to ancient Israel.

THE HISTORICAL SITUATION

The sadness of Israel’s history is recorded in the Bible. Long before the holocaust in Nazi Germany, Israel was victimized, violated, devastated and destroyed by enemies. No Gentile would dare to presumptuously suggest that the holocaust was deserved. God’s providence is inscrutable and his purpose hidden. We have nothing but supreme sympathy for such suffering.  However, the affliction of the Jewish nation throughout the Old Testament times by the Assyrians, Babylonians, and Romans is not mysterious. Israel’s prophets made clear to their own people that God’s purpose in those torments was to judge his people for their unfaithfulness. Such judgments came in the period of the Judges when every man did what was right in his own eyes, and in the time of Saul, the first king, who betrayed his calling. In the time of David Israel’s enemies were progressively conquered, but although David’s son, Solomon, reigned over a vast united kingdom it was divided soon after his death and decay set in. First in the Northern Kingdom and then in the Southern wicked idolatrous rulers reigned. The occasional appearance of a righteous king only served to accentuate the downward trend until the Assyrians decimated the Northern Kingdom. It was left to Isaiah to predict that a century later the Southern kingdom would also be destroyed and the Babylonian captivity would follow. In Isaiah 11:1-3 we see Israel  reduced from a great tree to a stump and roots, but out of that stump will come a shoot. “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him - the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and power, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord - and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.”  Here is your Wonderful Counselor, your Mighty God, and he is an Eternal Father. This message of hope was desperately needed where hope had been crushed by continual disappointment.

THE HOPE PROMISED

What we all require is a ruler, a leader, a king who is a Father who will not fail. We need a permanent benefactor who makes justice prevail forever. In spite of his failings, King David came the closest to this ideal among the human rulers in Israel. He was a spiritual care-giver. He was a Shepherd for his people. But his house decayed and there was no guarantee that that would not happen in the future as it had so often in the past. When Isaiah reviews the history of Israel in Chapter 63, he says, “ In all their distress he (God) was distressed and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted up and carried them all the days of old. Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them.” This leads to the question in Isaiah 63:11, “Where is he?” And the answer in Isaiah 63:16 is, “But you are our Father, though Abraham does not know us or Israel (Jacob) acknowledge us.” That God was still their merciful Father is clear in the promise of Isaiah 9:6. The messianic King who will come will be an Everlasting Father. This hope reminded Israel that a just and compassionate king was coming. This hope reminds us that
earthly fathers and earthly leaders are not enough. We live in a world with millions of fatherless children. Millions more have fathers who are either absent or have abdicated their responsibilities. The effects of this disaster are only beginning. In a fallen world even faithful Fathers who are trying to fulfill their role frequently fail.  What we need is a Father who will never fail. Some adopted children desperately seek to know their biological parents. But even if you could trace your ancestry all the way back to Adam, it would not fill the void in your heart. It is meaningless if we do not have a heavenly Father through faith in Christ. This is the hope of Isaiah 9:6.

THE HELP PROVIDED

Our help comes from the Lord who has come to us as an Everlasting Father in Jesus Christ. And this help is all that we need. The promise of an Everlasting Father is not sexist or gender insensitive. God has all the qualities of both Mothers and Fathers. When he created Adam in his image and then created Eve out of Adam he separated out and focused the male and female qualities which existed first in his character. God says through Isaiah in Chapter 49, verse 14, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast - though she may forget, I will not forget you.” And again in Chapter 66, verse 13, “As a mother comforts her child so will I comfort you.” God is concerned with our greatest necessity. Without him we are orphans. Even though we may have earthly parents, as sinners we have no heavenly Father unless we have Jesus as our Savior. If the child of Isaiah 6 is born to be our eternal Father, then to refuse him is to be an orphan. The children of the devil are all orphans. Only the children of God belong to a family. The Apostle John says it best in I John 3: 1,2, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” The Apostle Paul echoes the same theme in Romans 8:14-17, “…those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “ Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ…” The birth of a king in Bethlehem who is an Eternal Father to his people is good news to the fatherless in the family and to all who are abandoned to injustice throughout the earth.
The mother of a mentally challenged child took her toddler to the Doctor’s office. The world says a child with this kind of disability has nothing to offer. In the waiting room there was an old man dirty, disheveled, and foul-smelling. The mother went to the receptionist’s desk to register and when she turned around the old man was crying. Her first thought was what did my child do now. The little one’s behavior was unpredictable. She rushed over and said, “I’m sorry, what did he do?” The old man said, “Nothing, it’s the first time I’ve been hugged in thirty years.”  On the first Christmas a baby came down. They didn’t call him deprived, or disabled, or disadvantaged. Instead they called him charlatan, fake, crazy, mythical and unbelievable. But he surprises you because he gives you the hug you always needed. He is the Eternal Father. I need a Counselor to guide me, a Warrior to guard me, and a Father to love me.




THE PROMISED MESSIAH, A PEACEFUL KING
THE PRINCE OF PEACE


The Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father is also a Prince of Peace. As we need His prudence, His power, and His paternity, so we need His peace. In our time everybody wants peace. There was a song in the 1960’s entitled, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”  But singing the song is a long way from doing the deed. Jesus said “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)  Jesus envisioned a change  in men’s hearts which would be salt and light in the world. It makes you wonder about our commitment to the ideal of peace. Everybody in our home is in favor of saving energy, but you would never know it to look at our electric bill. Every one of us lacks commitment. As the mystic Thomas a Kempis said, “All men desire peace, but very few desire those things that make for peace.” When Isaiah promised the birth of Sar Shalom, the Prince of Peace, Israel wanted peace but they were not committed to it. We may be thankful that God was!

THE HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

The time in which Isaiah prophesied was filled with conflict. The Assyrians who had devastated the entire Northern Kingdom came knocking at the doors of Jerusalem. The Babylonians were waiting in the wings to destroy the Southern Kingdom and carry the people off to captivity. The conquerors’ lust for power was not the only reason for this. The people of God no longer trusted their redeemer. In better times the Psalmist had written, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.” (Psalm 20:7)  Now this sentiment was forgotten. Isaiah reveals the current tragic situation in Chapter 8, before he promises the birth of the Prince of Peace.  In verse 13 through 15 he says, “The Lord almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread, and he will be a sanctuary; but for both the houses of Israel he will be a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. And for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare…” Those who remembered the name of the Lord would find sanctuary, but those who did not believe would trip and be trapped. Do we think this has changed? God does not change! We say we Want peace and we spend our money on pseudo-psychology, social welfare, peace negotiations, armaments, treaties, NATO, the UN, jails and rehabilitation programs, but we do not trust in the Lord, and peace is farther away than ever. As Billy Graham once said, “Peace is not arbitrary. It must be based upon definite facts. God has all the facts on his side; the world does not. Therefore God, and not the world, can give peace.”

THE HOPE PROMISED

In the midst of the turmoil and tumult of Isaiah’s world, God made a promise of a messianic King who would bring peace.  The designation “Prince” refers to the unique ability of the promised King to make peace. He alone can make peace because the real enemy is us, the real war is spiritual, and the real problem is greed, ambition, envy, anger and pride. The Bible says that while we were powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. God demonstrates his love for us in this that while we were still sinners Christ died for us, and when we were God’s enemies we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son. In the years from 1914 to 1918 Americans vainly believed they were fighting the war to end all wars. With each successive conflict in the 20th century that dream has been shattered. The reason is that there is only one war to end wars. Listen to Isaiah’s description of the Prince of Peace in Chapter 9, verse 5, “He will burn up every warrior’s boot for battle and every garment rolled in blood?” Can you dare to say this has come to pass when you see the conflict, the bitterness, the hatred, and the malice all around you? You should! Too often we make our family celebration of Christmas a little oasis of peace in which we pretend there is peace on earth by closing out reality. Instead we need to listen to the apostolic preaching in the book of Acts. The Apostles declared that their resurrected Lord was on David’s throne establishing and upholding justice and righteousness both now and forevermore. In Acts 2:29-33 Peter says, “ Brothers I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was ahead he spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.” We miss the hope that God has given because we are looking in the wrong place. Like Israel of old we are looking for the imposition of peace from without, while God is bringing the initiation of  His peace from within.

THE HELP PROVIDED

We miss the help as well as the hope of peace because we fail to see that it is a present reality, not a future hope. We readily succumb to this mistake because all around us husbands and wives are fighting, children and parents are alienated, Christians are in conflict, neighbors at war, communities are hostile, minority segments in society are battling for privilege and earthly security and wars of hatred and bitterness are being waged in Africa, the Middle East and Bosnia. Although you cannot solve all these problems, you can recognize one fact. You are the problem and Jesus is the answer. James says, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” (James 4:1)  Isaiah says, “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.” (Isaiah 9:6) You cannot begin the process of peace on earth until you are at peace with God. Paul says in Romans 5:1 that it is not until we are justified, that is, forgiven through repentance and trusting in Jesus alone, that we have peace with God. Without this peace, the birth of Jesus Christ is meaningless. Have you been alienated from someone and then resolved your conflict. Do you remember making up? Can you recall the exquisite joy of the handshake, the hug or the kiss? Have you ever offered the hand of peace and been rebuffed? How did you feel then? God comes to each of us with the offer of peace. Perhaps you think you have peace with God, but you are still at war with your neighbor. Don’t excuse it by claiming that Jesus said there would be wars and rumors of wars before the end comes. Unless we make peace with others we are sanctimonious, hypocritical and insincere in our Christian profession. No one has to live in a world that’s getting worse and worse without making a difference, but you must realize that the solution always begins with you.  Exceptions are not permitted. Jesus died for his enemies, and so must you. John tells us that “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness.” (I John 2:9) This means anyone who claims to be a Christian and is content to live in unresolved conflict with his brother is not a Christian at all. At best he is not acting like a Christian. Celebrate Christmas by humbly extending the forgiveness you claim to have received.
There is a man named Abie Nathan floating around the Mediterranean on a yacht operating a pirate radio station. He calls it his “Peace Ship,” and he has promised to give a scroll to any child who smashes his military toys. On the scroll is a Biblical quotation from Isaiah, “And they shall not learn war anymore.” He has offered to buy the complete stock of war toys from any store which agrees not to sell them in the future. Excuse the pun, but he has missed the boat. Peace comes by reconciliation with our loved ones, brothers, friends and neighbors. And every lasting reconciliation on earth is the direct result of being reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.