Christmas Eve 2017 | Light in the Darkness - Isaiah 9:2-7

December 24, 2017 Speaker: Christopher Rich Series: Stand Alone Sermons

Topic: Stand Alone Passage: Isaiah 9:2–9:7

Christopher Rich – December 24, 2017
Light in the Darkness | Isaiah 9:2-7
Good Moring! Merry Christmas! Welcome to Damascus Road Church where we are Saved by Jesus Work.  Changed by Jesus Grace.   Living on Jesus Mission.  This morning we gather as we do each week. It is a morning of routine and one of significance. We’re here because of Christmas. Odd things happen with churches and Pastors at this time of year. Everyone wants to be creative and innovative. We feel this pressure to attract and bring something new and forget this a time where we celebrate something as timeless, eternal and true, as God’s pursuit of His people in and through Jesus Christ. As the church, as the people of God we arrange our years around these annual rhythms of significant remembrance Christmas (Arrival), Good Friday (Cross), Easter (Resurrection) because we’re fickle and fail to remember and rest quietly in the chorus that sings truth of life with God in Jesus, because we’re in a world that screams a cacophony divergent claims about God, the world, and ourselves that are lies which do not bring life but lead instead to decay and death. If you know Jesus you don’t need something new, because you’ve been made new. This timeless song of Christmas is celebrating advent. The word advent means coming or arrival. Specifically, the arrival of Jesus as crucified savoir and risen Lord. The incarnation, or, God in the flesh. The divine mystery and Truth of God as a Man entering in to History to identify with and save people who have rejected and ignored the God who created them. The advent shows us Jesus’ coming characterized by true Hope, Love, Peace, and Joy. So what we do each year may be as formulaic and predictable as a the plot of Hallmark Christmas Movie, but it’s not trite, sanitary, or impotent, it’s as raw and dramatic as great war movie and as vitally true and illumining as a faithful documentary.  Today we come not be entertained but to worship a God who came to establish His kingdom, to conquer Satan, Sin, and Death, and submit Himself to humiliation, that we may be glorified with Him. Christmas is a time of great celebration for the Messiah has come! Why?
PART I | HOPE | His Creation - Our Fall
Why do we need hope? To have hope or desire hope is to recognize our current state is not sufficient or satisfying. At it’s heart HOPE is a longing for something more or better than what is. Hope has not always been needed. You don’t need hope when the present is perfect, but do need it when you cannot imagine an eternity with things as they are at this moment. Consider your life now. Is it perfect?  The good parts as it gets (no better) and the bad parts will never improve. Now tease that out into eternity. What a prison of hopelessness. We need hope and are given hope. The Bible opens with God creating the world and He created it Good! He made men and women in His image, placed them in a garden paradise with perfect provision and purpose. They were in communion with and presence of God. They were given everything needed for their earthly satisfaction. They had perfect relationship with the God who made them. There wasn’t anything they could desire that was actually “better” than what God had given to them or created them for. Hope wasn’t need, sinless perfection was experienced.
But a lie entered creation from the enemy. The lie that “God didn’t really love them, there was something more he was keeping from his people that was good.” That Joy wouldn’t be had by following God commands, but by following our individual desires and that independence from God wouldn’t bring death but would instead bring a better life. The lie was believed, God’s word was rejected, sin, darkness, brokenness, and death entered the world. Sin promised greater life but instead it robbed joy. Love, naked and unashamed was replaced by suspicion, separation, and shame. A war began, between a holy, perfect, loving, just God, and people (He created) in full rebellion against their creator. Sin blocks light with darkness, it changes peace to conflict, and replaces communion with Exile. Where sins impact grows so does our need for HOPE. The God of Justice is also a God of mercy and grace; despite our sin, God gives the world HOPE in the promise of His victory. God says this is not all there is what is broken will not remain so forever. In the midst of paradise lost a thread of hope is found.
Gen 3:15 “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” You’ll bruise  - He’ll crush you.
PART II | LOVE | His Pursuit - Our Redemption
The brokenness of the world breaks God’s heart. God’s answer to the rebellion of sinners is to wage a war of his own. There is no war on Christmas because Christmas its self is a war. It’s God seeing the darkness, sin, and evil, not being satisfied to let it remain under siege so he wages a war of His own.  His war is a war of light waged with love for the world and His people in it.
John 3:16-17  | 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 
These familiar verses make a surprising claim. God loves the world and sinners in it. This seems unlikely at best and impossible at worst. God doesn’t need us, we need him. We chose to reject him and yet He chose to love us. We are infinitely far from being worthy of His love. Because of our sin, Pure, infallible God, would be perfectly just to let us perish and condemn all sinners to eternal torment as prisoners of war. God justice must be satisfied. We are not capable of atoning for our sin against an eternal God without receiving an eternal punishment. We need mercy.
Romans 5:6-8 | 6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
God’s love for sinners is not universal; it is specific. He shows show his love exclusively through the person and work of His Son Jesus. In Jesus, we see God’s love is not professed in mere words but in dramatic action. His love is not unsatisfyingly sentimental; it is ultimately sacrificial. 
1 John 4:10 | 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
The word “propitiation” means absorbing the wrath we justly deserve for sin. The Good News of Christmas is Jesus arrived on a mission to wage war on our sin not by our death, but by his own. Jesus comes to show us Gods love for sinners by securing our redemption on the cross in our place. This is all necessary and right because our God has perfect love. Not our feelings of liking things we find likable  but His actions to lovingly save and change that which is unlovable because of sin to something lovely. We presently remember and celebrate in response to the loving actions of God in Jesus because it happened in the past. But for countless generations hope in God was in the promises of intervention.   
Isaiah 9:2-5 | 2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. 3 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. 4 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. 5 For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire.
This the condition of people apart from God. We are walking around, we have a sense of where we are, is not all there is, but we are not illuminated to the truth. We are in darkness. Early this month, I ran at night during my son’s basketball practice. In was a terrifying run because it was along Lake Stevens with no street lights. The lights of the cars were a bright and overwhelming contrast from the darkness. But the light was inconsistent, disorientating, and transient. I ran in darkness, I did not dwell in a place of light and so each step was one of tension and fear. I knew I was in the dark to those driving, I didn’t know where the ground was at times. The darkness had separated me from others, my assurance of where I was and going and my relationship with the environment around me. Where are you walking in darkness…. Where are you dwelling in darkness? God Promise to shine light into the darkness in Jesus.
Boots of battle are taken off, Soldiers aren’t needed after the victory is won.  Blood soaked garment from the sting of death and destruction will be useless because there is new life. This imagery is striking. The energy and intensity directed towards a brutal bloody war will be turn to pure warmth and light. This is the end of the greatest conflict, between man, sin, death, God, light, and life.  What is going to be the cause of this great transition of darkness to light? What will the promise look like? A child.
PART III | PEACE | His Victory – Our Restoration | Isaiah 9:6-7
Isaiah 9:6-7 |6 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. 7 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.
Jesus arrival not only shows God’s mercy to sinners, not receiving the wrath we justly deserve, but also displays the grace of God giving us good gifts we did nothing to earn. He gives us the gift of Peace.  The Hebrew word for Peace is Shalom. It does not only signify the absence of conflict and hostility, and is not limited to feeling of calm, it is most realized in wholeness of perfect relationship with the God who made us, this if found in Jesus Christ alone. When God brings Peace it comes through victory over evil. We see God’s victory in Jesus resurrection, death could not defeat him. Jesus is alive! This is good news! Our restoration begins when we conceded our defeat and pledge our allegiance to victorious Jesus.  Christmas celebrates not only the savior who came to die for us, but point to Easter and the King who came to rise, rule, and reign forever. The child will go to the cross. The yoke of burden, rod of oppression was bore for us by Him. It will be defeated on the cross as greatest oppressor sin and death are neutralized by the God man who dies the death we deserve for sin and rises again showing his resurrection power over death. So gift given in the son is God’s presence with His people AND His sacrifice FOR His people. No longer will oppression be on His shoulders, but instead the Government ie: Kingdom of God and His people will be. The arrival of Jesus signifies the beginning of powerful victory.
These names of this child, this person, this man, who is Immanuel (God with us) betray His greatness:
Wonderful Counselor – We have foolishly rejected God and walked down a path of destruction. He restores us with His peaceful wisdom and guides us as a perfect teacher. He knows what we need and what guidance we require and shines light in to our dark understanding with His words.
Mighty God – Jesus came to earth fully man, and fully God. This profound mystery is also a hope-filled promise. Jesus as God means our salvation is safely secure. We are weak, but He is strong! We need a overwhelmingly stronger God to overpower the brutal enemies of sin and death. We have peace in His protection. We cannot have an experience of greater strength that in His secure presence.
Everlasting Father – John Calvin says the name “father” is used to mean “author” because Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith and He adopts us into the eternal family of God. 
Prince of Peace – To be restored to relationship with God means being restored to the source of all happiness, calm, life, and safety. Jesus is the one who brings and rules with Peace.
This victorious King rules and reigns over a forever kingdom. His kingdom will continually expand and with it more and more Peace. God’s kingdom expands as our hearts are turned to submit to Him. He changes us turning us from enemies to family. How long will this reign last? It’s not temporary it’s eternal. So we’re talking about a forever peace! There is forever Justice, forever righteousness. This is a peace that doesn’t compromise with our sin but overcomes it.  This a cause for great joy! Why would God do this?  God’s zeal for His victory, justice, and our restoration means his government never stops increasing and neither does our peace. God is about God’s glory and that is good because it leads to our Joy. 
PART IV | JOY | His Glory - Our Joy | Luke 2:10-20
Luke 2:10-20| 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ
the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Humble Shepherds near Bethlehem are the first outside of the new royal family to know what had taken place. An encounter with the God of the Universe (even some of his angelic messengers) should lead to a little awe and even fear as you consider how glorious God is! God’s being glorious should lead us to joyful worship of him. The arrival of Jesus as the messiah, the Savior King, the promised son/child is always accompanied with Joy and a bit of healthy fear.
Fear of God makes way for Joy in God when we understand his arrival is provides the means for us to be redeemed from our sin and restored to relationship with him. This happens at the announcement of Jesus birth. Joy comes from what we behold as glorious. Glory was shone to them about the identity of Jesus. Glory drew them to come to Jesus. Glory of Jesus propelled them to tell others about Jesus. Glory of Jesus led to joyful worship of Jesus.
Joy is in the glorious certainty of God’s ultimate victory of satan, sin, darkness, and death.
A God who comes to people who for generations have rejected and rebelled and does so in great humility, fragility, and vulnerability as a new born baby is one who is pretty confident of victory. When we see a baby we see vulnerability, because we know how little control we have our life or the lives others. We know the feelings responsibility for a new baby to sustain it’s life. God doesn’t see vulnerability in Jesus because He has perfect authority over everything. God knows the whole story.
Jesus came as a baby, but this is infancy of His mission not the culmination or completion of it. We like our Jesus as a baby because he’s less obtrusive. He’s humble, he doesn’t say anything or ask anything of us. Yes our God came in humility, lived in obscurity, dwelled among poverty, and died in humiliation but that is not the entirety of His character. Baby Jesus is the beginning of light in the darkness not the end.
PART V | Our  Lasting HOPE and PEACE is in His Return | Revelation 19:11-16
Revelation 19:11-16 | 11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13He
is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
Baby Jesus has come and we praise God! But, this is the Jesus that comes back. This is the forever victory. This is the time when no more hope is needed because it is realized. This is the Jesus we celebrate and the King we follow, and return we eagerly anticipate. He is the one who ends all wars who bring total victory who enacts perfect Justice and exhibits pure righteousness. We praise God Jesus came in humility so we can engage with and receive Him without begin consumed. Because when Jesus comes back it is not in humility but total overwhelming glory. Those who are part of His kingdom will rejoice and those who have rejected His rule will be in agony. Victory is promised and will be realized.
Our hope in God’s love gives us peace through Jesus victory, and secures our joy now and forever. 
We remembering that Jesus coming is not the end of the story. Jesus came to save us from death, to a new life. He is on His throne, victorious, and He has chosen His bride, the church, to carry His mission forward.
If you don’t know Jesus you don’t need something new, you need to be made new. This happen when you place your faith, your hope, your joy, finding peace in the love of God found in Jesus alone.
If you are a Christian you don’t need something new to sustain or excite you, you need something eternal and timeless to renew you. This happens when we Trust Jesus.
Go in Hope, LOVE, PEACE, and JOY.  Our King is on His throne. AMEN.

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